It's a story of meticulous planning and one that involved all stakeholders.

Colossal cleanup How Keralas capital cleared 15 tonnes of T20 food waste in 2 days
news Waste Management Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 07:40

When the announcement of the India - New Zealand T20 match in Thiruvananthapuram was made, the city’s Mayor V K Prasanth and top corporation officials – were worried that without a well-thought-out waste management and disposal plan, the Greenfield Stadium might very well turn into a garbage dump yard.

They held a meeting with the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), urging it to follow ‘Green Protocol’ to maintain a clean venue. When the KCA authorities cited various security reasons as hindrance to follow the conditions laid out in the protocol, the municipal corporation assumed responsibility of the waste management at the venue.

The corporation deployed 150 workers to clean the venue under the supervision of 20 health inspectors from the health wing of the corporation. But that’s not the whole story, the corporation then made a meticulous plan involving all stake holders to keep the venue clean and green.

As part of the mission, the corporation then entered into an agreement with PEPSICO to implement extended producer responsibility (EPR). This is also the first major collection through EPR for a large-scale event in the city.

What is Green protocol?

Green protocol, introduced in Kerala as part of Suchitwa Mission, is a set of measures implemented to significantly reduce waste by focusing on the minimised use of disposables and using reusable alternatives like glass/stainless/porcelain cutlery. When green protocol is implemented during any event, there is practically zero generation of non-biodegradable waste. Therefore, the question of waste management post the event becomes virtually non- existent.

According to the protocol, only steel utensils are to be used to serve food. Disposable materials like paper cups and plates are to be avoided. Water bottles are to be avoided completely; instead water is expected to be served in huge jars, kept at multiple places at the venue. Even for venue decoration only biodegradable materials are allowed. Waste materials are to be segregated in biodegradable and non-biodegradable bins.

A week prior to the T20 match, the corporation informed all the food stalls, which were given temporary license, of a special store opened by the municipality for purchasing eco-friendly materials to serve food. The eco-friendly materials for sale included containers and plates made of sugarcane.

The officials also strictly asked all the food stalls to keep two bins, one each for collecting bio and non-biodegradable waste. The stalls were also asked to keep Thumburmuzhy model composting bins to manage biodegradable waste. Thumburmuzhy model bins are basically 4’by4’by4’ cubicles made of ferro cement reapers which provide maximum aeration. A single cubicle itself can handle 2 tonnes of waste.

Soon after the match, the 150 workers swung into action under the supervision of the health inspectors. In the cleaning mission that lasted two days, corporation workers segregated and collected huge quantities of waste.

Fifteen barrels of food waste amounting to 1.5 tonnes was collected. Around 25,000 eco-friendly plates provided by the corporation were collected. Approximately 10,000 aluminium foil containers, 1,000 aluminium cans and around 10,000 paper cups were also collected by the workers. Other plastic waste collected weighed approximately 500 kg and paper waste weighed around 1,500 kg.

PEPSICO collected 35,000 pet bottles from the venue which will be handed over to a recycling plant at Veli.

Much to the disappointment of the corporation officials, it was found that Kudumbashree had violated the rules by using around 3,000 styrofoam plates.

A health official expressed concern saying, “We had given clear written details regarding the usage of eco-friendly materials at the venue to accomplish zero waste. To our sheer disappointment, we collected around 3,000 styrofoam plates used by Kudumbashree.”

Corporation officials confirmed that a letter will be issued to Kudumbashree citing violation of agreement.

Another challenge was to segregate unsold food from various containers, as the food had to be then separated from the aluminium foil.

Despite the challenges, a health official says, “This is the first time in the state that EPR was introduced for a big event. We are really proud of our workers who co-operated; we couldn’t have accomplished this without them. We cleared the entire venue in a matter of two days and have successfully segregated the waste. We are planning to continue the same method for all such big events in the city.”

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