International lessons for Swachh Bharat
Garbage is a problem that developed countries have solved to an extent, and developing countries are seeking to solve it. Some have come up with enterprising solutions for a stubborn problem that you cannot simply wish away.
The Swacch Bharat campaign can take a few leafs out of these books - surely there is no harm in copying a successful model.
1) Malang, Indonesia, hit on an ingenious solution, when it allowed people to trade garbage for medical services and medicines. Such a project had a social spinoff too. It targeted both waste and poverty. Low-income households were encouraged to recycle their trash, the incentive being that they will be able to self-finance their health micro-insurance.
Basically, clinics there take trash from people and sell it to recyclers. The money collected is then spent on giving people basic health insurance.
Do Delhi's blooming mohalla clinics ring any bells? But we need a policy, not to mention synergy between the state and central government, which are more often than not at each other’s throats.
2) Sweden is perhaps the world leader in trash management. Puns apart, the model is so successful that Sweden has literally run out of trash. No wonder even the corners of picture postcards appear squeaky clean. The reality is that Sweden is actually asking other countries for their trash just to keep its network of recycling plants running.
We need a policy, not to mention synergy between the state and central government, to clean up our act.
About half a percentage of Sweden’s household waste goes into landfills. The rest is recycled - rubber, plastic, bio-waste, metals, computer waste etc, the list is endless. A good indicator would be that 30-odd waste management plants in Sweden produce heat for over 8 lakh households and electricity for over 2.5 lakh houses.
3) Closer to home, Singapore has shown the way. Here even the local dump is an eco-park with lush green trails and migratory birds. Singapore recycles over 98 per cent of its waste through recycling and power generation. Only about 2 per cent ends up in landfills.
4) Colombia has got many problems - social, political, economic but not of waste. The several municipalities produce over 30,000 tonnes of solid waste daily, with the main cities contributing to around one third of trash. To tackle the issue the country promotes a recycling initiative. It gives incentives for recycling besides running awareness campaigns.
One of the initiatives is a reverse vending machine which is located in public places like malls. It encourages the process of recycling plastic bottles via automated machines that receive trash and the user receives a coupon - it may be a restaurant coupon or movie tickets and even shopping coupons. The bottles are sent to recycling plants.
Even countries much lower down the development ladder have shown that when it comes to waste management innovation is the name of the game.
5) An amusement park for slum children in Kampala, Uganda, is built entirely by waste. Waste generated by villagers was collected and then refashioned to make swings and life-size board games. Uganda aims to have more such parks in the future. more