Year Gone by at SZW & Way Forward: Wilma Rodrigues on Waste Management, Circular Economy & Sustainable Development Goals
Last year, waste as a critical global problem came into sharp focus. Plastic, in particular, was called out as a huge threat to our environment. The word single-use (products which are used once before they are thrown away) was also chosen as the word of the year by Collins Dictionary bringing attention to the huge burden that a “use and throw” culture brings on to the environment.
At Saahas Zero Waste, we observed the changes in the narrative around Waste Management. From Garbage Disposal a term which actually contradicts the principles of waste management, the conversation across India in the last year shifted towards Resource Recovery, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development Goals.
This is where we believe we have added the most value to the sector – our organization has been able to penetrate deep into the mind of a generator and get him and her to look at waste as a resource which can and should be recovered so as to minimize our footprint on planet earth.
The impact in terms of a reduced footprint is seen very strongly in our Zero Waste programme which works in large corporate offices as also in apartments and educational institutions. With ground planning at the front end and intensive back end operations, we have been able to transition our customers into zero waste entities that recover up to 95% of all their waste.
By the end of 2018, across Bangalore and Chennai, we managed 40 Tonnes of wet and dry waste including low-grade plastic and paper waste.
The changing face of waste management in India is now also recognized by the United Nations. Saahas Zero Waste is one of the few companies in India to be accepted as BCtA (Business Call to Action) member. Worldwide there are 230 BCtA members. This recognition is based on the fact that our business is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.
Launched in 2008, BCtA is a UN initiative which aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage and employ people from the Base of the Pyramid.
While welcoming us into the BCtA fold, Paula Palaez, Head BCtA said “Saahas Zero Waste is not only tackling a monumental waste issue, which will have a positive impact both on the environment and the communities where it operates, but it is transforming the lives of the people it employs and in particular, improving the lives of vulnerable women in India,”.
Our company is now looking to grow exponentially in 2019. The year began well with closure on a critical round of impact investment into the company. The money which we have received as an investment will go towards expanding our presence in other cities in India including Hyderabad and Mumbai.
We will also be looking at setting up a second Material Recovery Facility which will support our commitment and vision towards 100% Resource Recovery and a Circular Economy.