PANAJI: The pollution levels are increasing across India, but it is more visible in coastal destinations like Goa. According to the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) report prepared by the central environment ministry and Society of Integrated Coastal Management, Goan beaches are the most littered (205.75 g/m2) in India. The Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) also released a report this month which reiterated that the efforts taken for collection, transportation and disposal of waste by the govt departments are inadequate. Last week, the Goa Environment ministry held a meeting with scrap dealers to formalise a mechanism to mobilise ragpickers who currently only pick PET bottles, to also pick non-recycled waste like multilayer packaging(chips/biscuits), tetra pack, glass bottles, plastic pouches etc from the local beaches.
Clinton Vaz, founder - vRecycle - a local waste management service company that services about 10,000 homes in Goa, “The collection of household waste needs to be strengthened but the real challenge is non-treatment/recycling of collected waste. We need to segregate waste at source on basis of recyclables rate and promote the local waste management and recycling industry to ensure that maximum amount of waste is getting recycled. While, plastics like multi-layered packaging (chips/biscuits), plastic cups almost never get recycled but plastics like PET/HDPE bottles are the most recycled globally. A waste collector can earn between 20-30 rupees for 1-kg of PET bottles.
The collected plastic bottles can be recycled into textile grade fibre to make t-shirts, bags, mattresses etc and benefit the local waste pickers in earning daily wages. We can generate thousands of newjobs and revenue through strengthening the waste management and recycling ecosystem.
Goa is slowly losing its charm because of the growing amount of waste generation, calculating to over 600 tonnes per day. Of this total waste generated each day, most of it is litter. In the collection drive undertaken by the NIO, a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Centre for Coastal Research and the Ministry of Earth, 1078-kg of plastics, 486-kg of organic waste including paper and other trash, 720 glass bottles and 125 metal cans were found in a kilometre’s stretch. It further established the severity of the situation. Wastes like broken glass bottles can even lead to severe injuries.
Mac Vaz, director of Madame Rosa Distillery and founder president of The Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association said, “As Goa is the apex watering hole for tourists, preserving the original clean quotient of the state, as much as practically possible will always be a challenge until there is a mindset change. Our Indian culture of hygiene and cleanliness within our homes needs to be applied to our homeland too. With regard to littering and civic sense there is a need for kindling a civic sensitivity of “Do onto others as you would like to be done unto you" which unfortunately as on date is celebrated only in slogans in our country. A collective effort, involving the local government, recyclers, NGOs, corporates, clean technology experts and the student community is needed to raise awareness and strengthened the waste disposal, collection and plastic recycling ecosystem in Goa.