Chennai, Jun 23 (IANS): Catch-them-young to spread a good concept is what diversified corporate ITC Ltd. has decided to follow in propagating its wealth-out-of-waste (WOW) initiative.
The WOW initiative started in 2007 in the Andhra Pradesh capital, Hyderabad, to spread the concept of source segregation of waste for efficient recycling.
The WOW initiative collects a total of around 4,000 tonnes per day (tpd) in Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Chennai, Madurai, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore, and plans to increase collection to around 6,000 tpd this fiscal, and also cover major southern Indian cities by 2015.
"We are planning to involve Chennai schools and their students in this initiative. Children have more persuasive power with their families than anybody else. We want to involve around 15,000 students in Chennai in our WOW project," Jogarao Bhamidipati, divisional head at ITC, told IANS.
Elaborating, he said ITC would provide bags to students in which they would collect dry home waste - mainly paper, metal and plastics.
At periodic intervals the students would bring the WOW bags to school, where these would be collected by the ITC agent after paying for the waste.
"With this initiative we are spreading the WOW concept to several thousands of households. We will formally kick start the initiative on National Recycling Day on July 1," Bhamidipati said.
"We have also invited several corporates for the function so that they can be initiated to the WOW activity. Already several large corporate houses are part of this initiative," he added.
ITC has also started collecting old note books and other papers from students in exchange for its own new notebooks, geometry boxes and like. This year ITC ran the programme in Hyderabad and Coimbatore and collected around 125 tonnes of old text or note books.
According to Bhamidipati, around 30 percent of garbage generated in a city could be recycled through source segregation, which also saves huge tracts of land from turning into garbage dump.
"15,000 tonnes of garbage needs one acre of landfill," Bhamidipati remarked.
India consumes around 10 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), which is set to increase to 30 mtpa by 2025. The per capita consumption of paper will rise to 15 kg from the current 10 kg by 2015.
"Unfortunately only 2 mtpa of paper are recovered. India imports around 4 mtpa of waste paper at around $2 billion. While around 5 mtpa of paper are dumped in garbage," he said.
Recycling one tonne of paper saves 22 trees and several thousand gallons of water, while a tonne of waste paper recycled gives an equivalent quantity of paper.
ITC has tied up with Hyderabad-based Ramky Group for the logistics.
"The WOW initiative costs ITC around Rs.10,000 per tonne of waste. Sometimes we break even, many other times we incur loss. The initiative is not with an eye on cutting costs. If the initiative grows, then it can become a key corporate activity," Bhamidipati said.