It is a common sight in any metro of India to see piles of garbage on street corners. Ironically, even under signs which warn against dumping garbage!
Dry and wet garbage are mixed together and this makes it a cumbersome process for ragpickers to segregate the waste. This is where Green Worms, a social enterprise set up in 2014 and based in Kozhikode, Kerala, enters. Preferring to be called a social enterprise rather than an NGO, these waste warriors collect non-biodegradable waste, segregate it and send it to different outlets which in turn help in the recycling process.
Jabir Karat, the founder and CEO of the organisation said, “We collect only dry waste since the wet waste is already taken care of in the city. After segregation, we send the glass to glass factories and plastics to plastic factories to recycle these items”. Karat added, “We have our own plant in Kozhikode which helps in recycling low-grade plastic”.
The organisation has plans of expanding to Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Thrissur. However, Green Worms is not currently looking at going beyond Kerala as they wish to establish themselves in the state and first create awareness in their own backyard.
While Karat has not expanded into the neighbouring states, he has buyers outside who take in the waste. For example, there are buyers in Mysuru and Coimbatore who take in plastic and glass. His own plant manufactures papers, PET bottles and aluminium containers which are made out of discarded aluminium foils. The e-waste goes to Coimbatore.
Image courtesy: Green Worms; Segregated plastic covers.
Karat explains, “Our plants manufacture biodegradable plastic bags while non-biodegradable plastic is shredded and sent to Coimbatore where it is mixed with tar to make it stronger, and other types of plastic go to pipe manufacturing industries which make pipes for agricultural purposes”.
Karat said, “We haven't grown big enough to collect waste from the entire city of Kozhikode but we try to do a good job with the two garbage trucks with us. They go to the buildings and houses. Sometimes, we even cater to weddings where we collect the garbage there and put it to good use. In total we collect 120 metric tonnes of garbage per month ."
Green Worms is also creating awareness on the importance of composting in the district. They provide compost bins to interested buyers as well as hold tutorials to those who are doing it for the first time. They even help in clearing the compost when the bins are full. To expand on the advantages of composting, they have tied up with a Bengaluru based NGO called the Daily Dump which helps with composting in the city.
Image courtesy: Green Worms; Recycling plant, Kozhikode.
When asked why he started this venture, Karat, a post graduate from Delhi University said, “I just want to make people’s waste disposal methods better and make their lives easier. I wanted to start this when I walked by a slum in Andheri, Mumbai, and there was garbage everywhere. No one had come to collect it for a while. It was then that I thought of the idea for better means of garbage disposal”.
At the moment, Jabir Karat is trying to tie up with ITC Coimbatore as it will help him dispose waste in a more efficient fashion.