solid waste management

We are happy to announce that our two organisations, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship BV and Saahas Zero Waste have come together with a deep driving desire to address the corrosive inequality within our society.

Our starting point is a social inclusion programme for the informal sector working with waste. This includes the communities of recyclers, waste aggregators, scrap dealers and waste pickers. Collectively this community has traditionally and even today, manages more than 90% of the country’s waste.

Social inclusion will be addressed through a two year intensive incubation programme for micro-entrepreneurs working with waste. The objective of this incubation programme is to demonstrate an approach where micro-entrepreneurs who work within the informal sector now have access to financial as well as managerial support so that they can have a fully formal and healthy business.


The investment of 1.1 million Euros from IKEA Social Entrepreneurship will be used to set up 3 plastic recovery facilities for 3 micro-entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Each of the entrepreneurs will have now have access to appropriate technology in the form of machinery and data management for tracking and tracing the waste. They will also be shadowed and closely supported in their daily business operations by Saahas Zero Waste, an India partner of IKEA Social Entrepreneurship.

The programme looks to demonstrate and deliver on a framework that will result in mainstreaming the informal sector. Access to minimum wages, social security and safe working conditions will remain the core of this framework

This will be executed through a ground level impact team that will not just develop a business plan for our micro entrepreneurs but also hand-hold them through the day to day challenges.

Along with government we need industry and civil society to step up and clean up the channels through which waste flows. This pilot project looks to deliver a road map for micro- entrepreneurs to cross over and deliver holistic and formal waste management solutions.

Paper Bottle


The life cycle of plastic is strewn with contradictions which have enormous repercussions on the health of the planet. Plastic as a material is designed to last forever but a staggering 43% (70Lakh MT/year) of products are in fact single use and throw. Of this packaging alone contributes 80% to the total quantum of plastics coming into the system. Over the last 50 years, just 9% of this plastic has been recycled.

We need a disruptive shift to a cradle- to- cradle concept
Managing plastic waste consists of an upstream supply chain of collection, sorting, aggregation and logistics to a recycler. Processing at the downstream includes recycling, manufacturing and sale of products. Cheap and convenient are characteristics that make plastic packaging popular. It’s now pay up time and we are all in this together which is why we need to critically access the emerging solutions. It’s important that our learning’s are integrated into solutions which are holistic instead of a mere half measure. Cheap and convenient can no longer be attractive parameters. Instead we look to choose options only after the entire life cycle is closely analysed and the environment and social impact measured. Undoubtedly, a cradle to cradle approach would be a good beginning.

Refill, reuse and paying for the environment cost of packaging are all options that are there before us and included in the cradle to cradle approach. These options will reduce the dependence on single use packaging and also address the excessive consumption behaviours which also need to make a shift.

We are therefore at this point calling out industry for not getting diverted and focus more on a holistic and long-term solutions. We refer specifically to paper based bottles which are now being introduced as a solution to the plastic pollution problem.

A closer look at what’s on offer
Reports in the media show that 2 years of R&D have gone into creating paper bottles that are claimed to be “recyclable and 100% bio-based”. Here are some facts revealed through a Q & A which we conducted with the bottle designers through social media.

Q) Is this 100% paper based and is it recyclable?
A) The target is to be fully recyclable in the regular paper stream. For Gen 1.0, the bottles have abarrier which needs to be separated by either the consumer or the recycler!
Q) Are you using a barrier coating inside the bottles?
A) We are currently using a thin plastic (rPET) liner but are also testing new integrated bio-based barriers, including bio-plastics.
Q) Will the bottles use plastic closures?
A) Yes it is currently plastic and a paper-based closure is in development. Everything will not be simultaneously addressed. We need to learn along the way, so you will probably see different generations and closure solutions and, step by step, improved recyclability levels.
Q) How does the Life Cycle Analysis of paper based bottles look against the regular plastic bottle?
A) We work with LCA and industry experts to verify that our approach is delivering a sustainable choice to the market. We do know that our first-generation bottle with the thin rPET liner has a 58% smaller CO2 footprint than a conventional PET used for the same product.
Q) Is there a need for alternatives? Can we not focus on achieving maximum recovery and closed loop recycling of existing plastic grades?
A) We also think alternatives are needed, such as PET, because we can’t entirely depend on one stream.


Our Analysis and comments

  • We believe that it will be difficult to retrieve and recycle the plastic barrier and the closures from this packaging
  • When it comes to single- use products, paper in its production has a large environmental footprint. Also the recycling of paper is not closed loop.
  • The designers need to provide more technical evidences of a holistic life cycle analysis of alternative packaging which are aligned to the SDGs and the Cradle to Cradle concept.


Written by Arun Murugesh, Regional Director, Saahas Zero Waste

Goa Trash

Helping Football Take the Lead in Fighting Waste in Goa

SZW began waste management operations in Goa to keep our coastlines plastic-free. We started working with the Panchayat in Calangute to support source segregation of waste and optimize its collection.

Goa is the only Indian state to declare football as its official sport. In 2019, FC Goa noticed our work and invited us to support them this season to manage waste generated during the matches. The team is nicknamed The Gaurs, and owned by Virat Kohli, who had earlier endorsed responsible waste manageent during IPL matches in Bengaluru – where SZW manages waste. The colours on FC Goa’s logo, blue and orange, symbolize the Goan coastline and sunrise.

For our first match –

  • We got more bins of uniform colours – blue for dry waste and green for wet waste
  • We positioned our twin-bin system near the stalls and food vendors, and then labeled each with clear signs. 
  • Reusable HDPE bags were provided to replace and phase out single-use bin liners. 
  • Near water stalls, blue bins were placed to collect PET plastic separately.
  • Housekeeping staff at the stadium was trained to handle waste sustainably and effectively.

We went on to handle all other matches for FC Goa at Fatorda stadium. With each match, the number of spectators increased and we tweaked our operations to improve efficiency and raise awareness.

Smaller bins were used as they were easier to transport, and mixed waste easier to spot and remove. 

  • Primary segregation of dry waste into further categories was done in-house. More staff was stationed at the bins and strictly instructed to adhere to segregation guidelines. 
  • Police, bouncers and other staff were also briefed. 
  • Waste was cleared out before every match and all extra bins were removed to avoid mixed waste. 
  • FC Goa even requested their fans to pay attention to segregation of waste during their games.

Within a span of 6 games, we observed that segregation levels had improved, especially from children. Spectators were sensitized to the cause and we’d eliminated all dumping of waste in and around the stadium. We also diverted a total of 5.5 TONNES of waste from landfills.

FC Goa’s social media post on the sustainable waste management done at the ground

Dry waste was recycled into different products. Water & beverage bottles, which are primarily PET plastic, were made into fabric and T-shirts. Paper waste went to paper mills for recycling. Low-grade plastic, mainly wrappers and other packaging material, was used as alternative fuel in cement kilns.

FC Goa gave our team some unique T-shirts. 

We also collaborated with FC Goa for multiple plogs and clean up drives, as part of the Goa vs. Garbage program adopted by the club, and collected hundreds of kilos of waste. Runners were provided with gloves, garbage bags and water. All waste collected was brought to the stadium where our team segregated it further into 13 streams in line with our commitment to maximum resource recovery. 

Post clean-up drive in Badem Sunset Point where 320 kg waste was collected

‘Top 10 Trends of the 2020s’ was an engaging programme presented by Ruchir Sharma in association with Prannoy Roy. The programme was aired on NDTV last month.

The trends for businesses in this decade made repeated reference to companies working with a head and heart. Moral Capitalism was the headline used to describe this new phenomenon.

The Millennials (current age group 22-37) together with Gen-Z (age group 7-22) make up about 60% of the world’s population. This large group of consumers are far more socially conscious compared to the previous generation. It was explained that they are known to demand social and environmental accountability from brands that they engage with. Businesses, therefore, have been forced to look beyond profits and demonstrate a ground-level implementation of their commitment to people and the planet.

For us at Saahas Zero Waste, we have always been convinced that companies should have social good as the primary objective of their existence. This is how it was in the ’50s and ’60s of the last century. We are thrilled that the trend is coming back in this decade.

We are then more than happy to take our place as a ‘trendy’ company that works on the ground to bring impact and social good.

Last year, we worked closely with brands to support them build a reverse logistics system for plastic packaging. This is an essential part of compliance which is now required under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The current supply chain to bring back post-consumer plastics is largely dependent on the informal sector.

Our intensive engagement with the sector is now focused on moving scrap dealers and waste pickers towards social inclusion. This means minimum wages, no child labour, and compliance to health and environment regulations.

Process formalising the work of informal waste workers

1,900 individuals across 17 states in India were impacted as we worked with scrap dealers, dry waste collection centres, waste picker colonies, the transport network, and others to move them towards compliance and social inclusion.

The impact numbers are as yet relatively small but the approach is being widely accepted. We are excited to now go full throttle and notch up the numbers so that our social inclusion programme becomes the new normal for the informal sector in India.

This is a tremendous opportunity for us to clean up not just the county but also the system.

Asian Paints, Tata Consumer Products Ltd and others walk the talk

In 2019, Saahas Zero Waste collected approximately. 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste. Out of this, 12,000 tonnes of waste was multi-layered plastic (MLP) for 6 key brands who are our customers. This was as part of compliance with the regulation known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) under the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016.  

Multi-layer plastic packaging currently is difficult to recycle and hence co-processing in a cement kiln becomes practically the only viable option for safe disposal of this material. Brands who work with us are now sensitized to the fact that they need to work with us closely and support us as we use this opportunity to clean up the reverse supply chain and ensure that all activities around collection, aggregation, compaction, and transport to the recyclers or cement kilns is executed through a workforce which complies with labour laws and environmental regulations.

Tata Consumer Products Ltd. (formerly Tata Global Beverages Ltd.) and Asian Paints are two of our customers who – like us, believe that the new EPR regulations serve as an opportunity for the industry to support social inclusion and ethical sourcing.

For TGBL we started a campaign in December where we worked with key collection partners in Karnataka to introduce health and hygiene to their waste worker teams. 

The programme has reached out to around 750+ waste workers in Bengaluru, Chennai, Tiruchy and Pondicherry. We will be conducting more engagement sessions with waste workers in the upcoming months at different locations.

The sessions spoke about simple practices that can be followed to mitigate health issues. Waste workers typically carry very heavy bags as they move materials. Our sessions and training included safe manual handling techniques to ensure safe handling of heavy waste. We also worked with them to understand the connection between wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and skin related ailments.

For companies like Asian Paints, we have gone a step ahead and enrolled entrepreneurs from the informal sector. We are hand-holding these entrepreneurs and taking them through our entire social inclusion process so that they implement complete compliance to environment and labour regulations.

There has been a lot of talk recently of Municipalities and Urban Local Bodies in the country opting for incineration Waste-to-Energy as a method to deal with Municipal Solid Waste. And not for the first time. 

WTEs have been hailed as the saviours for India’s waste problem time and again. But existing logic and evidence suggests that it might not be what it is hyped up to be. 

In this article, we go over some of the most common issues with WTE and why it proposed as a catch-all solution to India’s waste management woes is perplexing. 

1. Quality of Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in India has large organic content with moisture and high volumes of low calorific inorganic waste. This feedstock is hence unsuitable for combustion. Thereby, decreasing the efficiency & effectiveness of the plant.

2. Pollution

If the technology is not carefully selected and operations closely monitored, WTE releases pollutants that contaminate air, soil & water. In 2016, the NGT fined Okhla WTE plant in Delhi Rs. 25 lakh for pollution violations.

3. High Tariff

High capital, high operating costs, cost of additional burning fuel etc. increases the unit cost of electricity produced (Rs. 7 compared to Rs. 3-5) in WTE plants rendering it difficult to find buyers for this electricity. 

4. Failing Model

Out of the 15 WTE plants setup in our country since 1987, 7 have shut down. This brings into question why this method is brought up time and again as a solution for our waste management issues.

All of these factors clearly indicate incineration WTE cannot be the first choice to manage MSW in India. They do have a role to play but only as a solution to manage the residual waste which forms about 10% of the waste in India. 

Waste management

In 2015, lawyer Afroz Shah started picking up trash from Versova beach in Mumbai. Since then, his weekend clean-ups have attracted scores of volunteers who have till date removed 13 million kg of waste!

Soon after, for the first time in decades, volunteers spotted 80 Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings on the same beach, heading towards the sea. 

We’ve been organizing clean ups for a few years now; the largest being the Bengaluru Plog Run last year. With 5 clusters, 10 routes, 54 collection points and 5000+ ploggers, this was our largest cleanup. This event resulted is us collecting and transporting over 6 tonnes of waste to our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in a day.

In the weeks leading up to Swachh Bharat month, we decided to get out there and tidy up our streets. Our Sustainable Sunday initiative saw 20 volunteers get to work on a hot day in Jigani. We managed to collect 460 kg of waste in just 3 hours.

Cleanup effort in Jigani

In association with the Jigani Town Municipal Council (TMC), we also asked offices in the neighborhood to segregate their waste in proper bins and send it to our MRF for further processing.

A few weeks later, Tata Global Beverages Limited approached us to clean Chikkabanavara Lake. Bengaluru’s oldest lake was now littered with single-use plastic and other waste. 60 volunteers and 10 local waste workers joined SZW for the cleanup and to understand issues with waste management in our city.

Little Waste Champion

In a few hours, we’d recovered 2810 kg of waste. Shoes were also distributed to waste workers before the event.

The elated team after the cleanup efforts

On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, nearly 100 determined volunteers gathered in Whitefield to do their bit for the city- this time it was Britannia Industries that needed our help to clean the streets choked by trash.

This one posed added difficulty with biomedical waste like diapers and pads lying around, which indicated a complete lack of waste management in the area. We still managed to collect 490 kg of waste.

The team at one of the three blackspots in Whitefield

Within a span of 30 days, we’ve diverted 3.7 tonnes of waste from landfills through cleanups alone! That’s 2.2 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions averted, as per the EPA WARM tool.

While conducting such drives it is imperative to remember that without an authorized service provider on board, the collected waste would just go back to another landfill or get burnt in the open. All waste from our cleanups is taken to our Material Recovery Facility, where it is processed and sent to suitable recyclers.

Further, for the area to remain clean, dumping of waste which creates these black spots, needs to be stopped and this can happen only through strict enforcement of laws and public awareness. 

by Wilma Rodrigues

The Swachh Bharat (SB) movement has Gandhiji as its core. He is the Ambassador of the project. Gandhiji was as much a doer as a thinker. If we are to sincerely celebrate his life and honour his memory, then especially in executing the SB movement our actions must speak louder than our words.

Let’s look closely at 3 stakeholders who play a critical role in the implementation of the Swachh Bharat programme – Government, Industry and the Aam Aadmi. What should each group do so as towalk in Bapuji’s footsteps and bring us to our goal of a Swachh Bharat?


Gandhiji believed in symbols. The Dandi March stood for his principals of non-violence and civil disobedience but this was followed up with persistent action and intense execution through multiple approaches.  While the broom and clean up drives have become symbolic of the movement, the path to a Swachh Bharat will need comprehensive and robust action.

For the last twenty years, both the state and the central governments have introduced comprehensive waste management rules. If there is one reason why waste has become a serious threat to our well- being, it is because our regulations are just not enforced. This is the time then that the government needs to lead from the front and put out stringent measures and plans to enforce its own laws and regulations.

There cannot be talk anymore of mafia-like elements ruling the waste sector. There cannot be compromises and apologies for absence of waste segregation. Consequences for non-compliance to the rules through government action is mandatory.


Industry is a huge waste generator and as such their role in the Swachh Bharat movement is focussed on post-consumer waste which is generated as part of their business. Industry is now required by law to facilitate and take responsibility for collection and recycling.

Walking in the Mahatmas footsteps for a Swachh Bharat, in reality, would translate into the company’s CEO working with the Head of Sustainability or someone similar in the company to review audited statements on how much waste the company has put out in the form of packaging. The Head of Sustainability would be accountable to a collection and recycling programme in line with environment and labour laws. Likewise, they would also drive innovation to the point where new business models would reduce packaging and encourage reuse.

Aam Aadmi

In a democracy every citizen of this country is first an Aam Aadmi.

Walking in the footsteps of the Mahatma, the common man cannot afford to let go. They have to pull out all the weapons used so effectively by the Mahatma. Come out on the streets when required to insist that government enforces its own legislation and industry takes responsibility for waste created through its own business.

More importantly, the Aam Aadmi must be the change they want to see on the ground. So yes, they will refuse single use products, abandon e-commerce companies who use excessive packaging, choose only those food aggregators who give us an option of reusable food containers and comply with all the waste regulations including waste segregation at source and recycling.

Nelson Mandela, an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi believed that when the head and the heart work together a formidable force is created.  Imagine if 3 critical stakeholders worked with their head and heart – this formidable force would surely deliver a Swachh Bharat.

Nature.  People.  Technology.

These are the three pillars upon which Saahas Zero Waste is built. Over the past seven years, SZW has grown into a reliable, formal waste management organisation that is currently operational across four cities – Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa & Hyderabad.

As a modern waste management company; technology, traceability, and innovation are now at the forefront of our focus.

SZW established its first Materials Recovery Facility in Bengaluru, in 2017. This 16-tonne capacity plant is one of the first such factories designed in India to manage waste formally.

A regular day at the SZW Materials Recovery Factory

At the MRF, incoming dry waste is secondary sorted into more than 20 different categories. Each category of waste is then baled and sent to authorised end destinations for recycling or co-processing. The baling of waste plays an important role in improving transport efficiency by three times. While a large truck can take only 3 tonnes of a certain unbaled stream of waste per trip, about 9 tonnes of baled waste can be sent out in the same vehicle, in one go.

Baling personnel & equipment

The MRF enables SZW to effectively manage both high & low value waste, mitigate vehicular pollution that stems from waste-transportation, all while giving the best costs to our clients. SZW has now begun to institute greater innovations at the MRF – such as the use of AI systems to secondary sort waste. We are also taking the same model of MRF across the country in the near future.

We have also started to expand our scope in wet waste management. While composting is a timeless option for managing small quantities of wet waste to create a nutrient-rich end product, it isn’t the most optimal solution for large quantities.

Composting over 200 kg/day of wet waste is laborious, and also requires a fair amount of real estate – about 500 sq. ft. Additionally, the greater the quantum of waste to compost, the harder it gets to control the process, potentially resulting in bad odour and fly infestation. Thereby, not being the most hygienic solution, either.

With this in mind, SZW had begun hunting for more innovative wet waste management solutions – and that’s when we came across GPS Technologies, an ambitious, ecologically-inclined start-up. SZW, in partnership with GPS, offers biogas plants with patented technology that helps create a temperature-controlled environment within the biogas digester.

Decentralised Wet Waste Management – Biogas Plant

This helps in the production of highly-efficient biogas that could be a great substitute for LPG. In some cases, it can also be converted to electricity. The infrastructure is sleek, customizable, self-sufficient, and is capable of generating an ROI within 2-5 years.

Feature Composting Biogas
Two people can manage 500 kg/day Two people can manage a 3-tonne
biogas plant
Hygiene May produce bad odour & attract flies No hygiene issues observed
Requires 1,000 sq. ft. Only 600 sq. ft.
ROI 50 paise/kg Will generate ROI in 2 – 5 years
Compost Biogas – fuel for cooking or electricity

Currently, only 19% of the total electricity generated in India come from renewable energy. And 5% of the total LPG consumption comes from biogas. However, biogas industry is placed amazingly well with India having set an ambitious target of generating about 10 GW of its energy from biomass by 2022.

SZW currently diverts 53 tonnes of waste away from landfills each day – that’s reducing 12,400 MT of GHG emissions every year. With India and the world awakening to the urgent need to move towards sustainable development, SZW is leaving no stone unturned to bring together nature, people and technology in our quest fight climate change.

Fast fashion is like fast food. Post the initial sugar rush, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

– Livia Firth

Textile Pollution

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to the oil industry. 20% of water pollution is due to garment manufacturing, and 85% of all clothing ends up in landfills.

As per existing data, 4% of Bengaluru’s Municipal Solid Waste is textile waste. That’s 220 tonnes of textile waste generated by Bengaluru every single day.

Piled up textile waste like this is a common sight across the country

Existing Solutions

Upcycling adds value to waste fabric by creating new products from it.

Only some clothes can be recycled.

In recycling, textile waste is first segregated by colour and size. It is washed, processed, shredded to smaller pieces, converted into stable fibers, turned to thread and finally new fabric. 

Only cotton/polyester commonly get mechanically recycled. We lack technology to separate different fibers, so recycling is not feasible for clothes with mixed fabrics and these should be avoided.

Lack of Government policies leads to textile recycling falling short in two big ways:

  1. There is no authorized textile waste data even for the big brands.
  2. There is also no reverse logistics in place to routinely collect pre and post consumer waste and recycle it.

Big Guns Getting in on the Act

Many retail giants are taking action to make their products more sustainable. Nearly three quarters of Nike footwear now contains materials made from its manufacturing waste. H&M is investing in recycling technology and offering points to customers who deposit old clothes.

Closer home, Bhaane is a brand that actively tries to source recycled handwoven fabrics.

SZW and Circular Textiles

As a recognised member of the United Nations’ Business Call to Action (BCtA), we work towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SDG 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption means we only create and support sustainable products that are made under fair working conditions.

2019 marked the start of our venture into circular textiles. It began as a pilot with a garment manufacturer Aquarelle.

We were able to make 30 different products from their textile waste, and these were brought back into the market or used for corporate gifting.

We are also working on pilot basis with India’s first billion-dollar fashion powerhouse Aditya Birla Fashion Retail to understand the problems better. We aim to holistically reduce and sustainably handle their waste.

For this we identified self-help groups, primarily consisting of women in rural regions of Karnataka, who can benefit from the employment. These SHGs add value to textile waste by making new bed-covers, laptop bags, sleeves and other products from it.

SZW Textile Vision

We aim to be the go-to platform for sustainable textiles – getting export houses on board to source recycled fabrics, facilitating recycling/upcycling and raising consumer awareness.

We want to create a systemic shift by designing an efficient value chain and formalizing the current informal ones. 

Bag made out of pre-consumer waste from apparel manufacturing factories.
Similar bags & other products like this will be in SZW product portfolio soon.

Consumer Awareness

Worldwide, consumer demand is of utmost importance to curb textile pollution. Enthusiasm by brands to venture into sustainable fashion is only an attempt at catering to raised consumer awareness.

Until sustainable fabrics are economical for everyone; buy less, pay more, and value the story your clothes tell.


Plastic Disposable Cup

Karnataka Plastic Ban: The Progress & Where We Are Now?

In 2015, the Karnataka state government banned the use of all plastics below a thickness of forty microns. A year later, in March 2016, the government issued a notification banning the use of all plastic and thermocol products, regardless of their thickness. The notification also banned manufacturers from producing, storing, supplying and transporting plastic. However, the notification allowed for three exemptions. It allowed plastic to be used to package milk and milk products, to be used in nurseries and horticulture, and to be used for export purposes in Special Economic Zones.

It has been three years since the ban on all plastics has been issued. How far has this ban been enforced and carried out? And what impact has it had on the production and circulation of plastic in the state?

Soon after the plastic ban was declared, authorities conducted multiple raids to seize plastic materials, especially targeting bulk producers and vendors. However, the ban was not properly implemented. The manufacture and use of plastic bags continued to be rampant, right from the vendor, up till the individual consumer. The challenge of enforcement was further exacerbated by collusion between officials and the garbage mafia.

Cut to 2018

In 2018, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) announced that they would be enforcing the ban more strictly, with the help of new technology. Officials who were in charge of implementation were given hand-held devices that could capture the picture and location of any individuals using plastic bags. In place of the manual receipts that were being issued up until then, the machine would also generate a spot penalty receipt for those caught using plastic.

On 31st August 2018, workers and owners of plastics units, united under the name of the Karnataka State Plastic Association, protested against the plastic ban, claiming that it supported only large multinational corporations. Their argument is that while the ban has reduced the use of single-use plastics, it has left multi-layered plastics almost untouched.

Statistics support their claim, as, after the ban, 1,000 units of single-use plastics have been closed down, resulting in a loss of more than 350 crore rupees to the industry. Waste management centers confirm that the amount of single used plastics coming into dry waste collection centers has reduced tenfold. However, the circulation of chips and biscuit packets, shampoo sachets, PET bottles, carbonated drink bottles, and juice cartons have not been affected at all.

It is unfair to maintain, as many critics claim, that the ban has had no impact at all on plastic production and use in Karnataka. It has been quite effective in cutting down the manufacture and circulation of single-use plastics in the state.

However, what remains unaffected is the amount of multi-layered plastics that are in circulation. These are a serious problem to the environment as they cannot be recycled and must be disposed of through incineration. It is now imperative that, just as the ban has been implemented in the case of single-use plastics, it must be strictly enforced and carried out with regard to multi-layered plastics as well.

PM Modi: Can we free India from single-use plastic

This Independence Day, the Prime Minister urged the citizens of the country to curb the use of single-use plastics, starting 2nd October.

Why are single-use plastic a problem?

Single-use plastic items are discarded after being used once. They are made from very low-grade plastic and cannot be recycled, hence they do not command value in the scrap market.

Given their low cost of manufacturing along with growing consumerism and demand for convenience products and services, the generation and use of single-use plastics has sharply increased in recent times, putting increasingly immense pressure on the state’s overburdened waste management system.

Ultimately, this waste is found dumped or burnt along the road or discarded into rivers, finding its way into our oceans. The rivers Indus and Ganga are among the 10 rivers that deposit 90% of the plastic waste into the ocean.

PM’s Address to the Nation

Acknowledging the problem, Modi said, “We should first take an important step to finally bid goodbye to plastic”. He invited start-ups to recycle plastic and develop technologies for the use of recycled plastic.

During his Mann Ki Baat address on 25th August as well, he urged municipalities, gram panchayats, government, and non-governmental bodies to strive towards ensuring adequate arrangement for the collection and storage of plastic waste.

Modi said “We shall lay the foundation of a new revolution against plastic, by the effort of people throughout the country. We have to commit ourselves towards cleanliness at public places. This time our emphasis must be on plastic.”

Some states including Karnataka have already instituted a ban on single-use plastic.

We are happy to see the Prime Minister personally address this problem on the national stage and “nudge” the nation towards more responsible behaviour. However, we are keenly looking forward to October 2, for some strong policy intervention in this direction.

Saahas Zero Waste Waste Management

At the Stroke of the Midnight Hour… Questions on my Mind

by Wilma Rodrigues

I have spent a good part of last week critically evaluating my contribution to the country as one its citizens.  Two generations before me, a large part of our population came together and fought relentlessly to give me a free country and hand over a legacy which I now cherish and value as a proud citizen.

As I look to prepare my own report card through a process of self-evaluation, I am faced with some critical questions   which I would like to share herewith so as to find answers through a dialogue.           

  • What should I do to mitigate the negative impact of climate change across India? How should I ensure that my voice is heard and my actions motivate an entire population to move towards a development agenda that does not comes at the cost of environment?
  • How can I contribute towards India becoming a more equitable society so fair wages are paid to all and families across India can afford, at the least, nutritious meals and basic housing?    
  • Can I consume less so that the Indian economy will grow substantially but also shift towards producing goods and services that will improve the lives of 100% (instead of 10%) of our population?   
  • How can I be an instrument of peace so that having fought together for our independence, all communities can now live and work together for a better India?
  • Will I be able to hand over to the next generation the same rich legacy which I inherited from our founding fathers?

This Independence Day, I hope and pray that my generation as also all other future generations will work together to bring alive the Idea of India.

One of the most pressing issues in the waste management sector is the immense exploitation of the majority of the members who are a part of this sector. This exploitation is facilitated by the fact that the waste management sector in India today is largely informal. We at Saahas Zero Waste are developing a new model of social inclusion, which aims to bring the informal actors in the waste management sector into the formal economy.

Why is there a need to develop such a model? It is because, apart from the exploitation that they face, most actors in the waste management sector face a severe lack of identity, recognition, acknowledgement, appreciation, and basic human rights. Most do not have any social security as they do not have bank accounts and are forced to depend upon unpredictable cash flows. They are not made aware of the best practices of waste management, and there are no compliance with minimum wage, working hours, health and safety, and other basic rules and regulations.

Informal waste management colonies are a common sight across the country

Our social inclusion project aims to address these issues first by creating a sense of identity and introducing motivational factors such as defined waste collection goals and reward systems. We are working towards spreading awareness on the best waste management practices and creating infrastructure for the exchange of knowledge and resources. We also ensure compliance with basic work ethics such as minimum wage, no child labor, and safety regulations. 

Hasan is a young micro-entrepreneur from Bengaluru who works as a thekedar at a waste picker colony, and is the first individual who we are working with under our social inclusion project. With our help, he hopes that he, and the people who work under him, can move from the highly informal economy they are embedded in to a fully formal economy. 

During an interview with us, he discusses the most critical issues present in the informal waste management sector, where waste pickers only pick up materials that bring them money and increase their profits. If there are waste materials that do not bring any money, there is no incentive to pick it up. The unfortunate result of this is that only high value waste is recycled enthusiastically while waste that has low or negative value is often not recycled at all. He asks that companies compensate for the waste hey have generated by paying to get it off the streets. Unless this is done, there is no incentive for waste pickers to sort and manage waste that does not bring them any value. 

At an event organised by Tata Global Beverage Limited in celebration of Work Environment Day, Hasan gave a speech for all the employees of the company. During his speech, he detailed out the disadvantages of mixed waste and the health hazards it poses for the waste pickers who sort and manage it. He appealed to the audience to segregate their waste, not on because it increases the chances of it being reused and recycled, but also because it is better for the health of those who manage it. 

Our social inclusion project not only reduces the exploitation faced by the actors within the waste management sector in India, it also aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of the international community and ensures safe and dignified conditions of employment.

Do you know where your e-waste goes?

Saahas Waste Management Private Limited is a registered PRO for the following EEE codes:

CEEW 5      

List of partner recyclers:

  1. E-Parisaraa Private Limited, Plot No. 30-P3, Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, Dabaspet Indl. Area, Bangalore Rural Dist – 562111

Contact No.: 080 2836 0902

Contact Email: [email protected]

List of logistics partners:

  1. Professional Logistics Private Limited

Contact Email: [email protected]

E-waste can be dropped off at these collection points:

  • Kasa Rasa 1, 149, Ejipura Main Rd, Gowda Muniswamy Garden, Ejipura, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560095
  • Kasa Rasa 2, Koramangala Industrial Layout, Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034
  • Kasa Rasa 3, Survey No 15, (ORR – Whitefield Bypass Road)., Alpine Eco Rd, Dodda Nekkundi Extension, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560048
  • Saahas Zero Waste, #21, MCHS Colony, 5th C Cross, 16th Main Rd, Stage 2, BTM Layout, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560076

To deposit e-waste at the nearest collection point across India, please call us on the toll-free number mentioned below. List of collection centres across India can be found here

For any e-waste consultancy or EPR related queries, please contact our customer care number.

Toll free number: 1800 425 35287

Customer care number: 080 4168 9889

Virat Kohli on Green Day Match at Chinnaswamy

Sustainable Events: How We Pulled off the Greenest IPL Yet

Indian Premier League is a professional twenty-twenty cricket league in India, founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2008. The league takes place annually, in the months of April and May. It consists of eight teams, each representing a major city or state in India, and it the most-attended cricket league in the world. 

For the 12th season of IPL, in 2019, Saahas Zero Waste partnered with Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), and DNA Networks to execute the IPL as a Zero Waste event

SZW at IPL 2019

This IPL season, RCB played seven matches at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Every match had an average audience size of 25,000 spectators. At every match, our team managed the waste generated, raised awareness through engagement activities, and set up a number of sustainable initiatives aimed at reducing, reusing, segregating, and recycling waste

The challenge:

There were a number of challenges posed by an event of this scale. First was the immense amounts of waste produced during the matches, consisting mainly of excessive amounts of uneaten food, and thousands of signboards and flags. This was exacerbated by poor standards of segregation and low levels of awareness about waste and its management among most of the spectators.  

Our strategy: 

Colour coded bins with appropriate signage were placed at different locations across the venue. Our 40 member team split up to man each of the bins at the stadium, and, while ensuring the correct segregation of waste, they also engaged with spectators to spread awareness on issues of waste and sustainability. 

Colour coded bins & segregation signage that were placed across the stadium

Bin liners were replaced with greener alternatives, with recycled flex banners being used to collect wet waste and HDPE bags being used for dry waste. Wet waste bags were cleaned after every match and reused for the next match, thereby using 300 less bags. RCB flags were collected and sent to an NGO to make bags, which were then freely distributed to hawkers around the stadium to reduce their usage of plastic bags. Unserved food from the stalls were distributed in slum areas in the city.

Sustainable waste management messages being flashed across the screens at Chinnaswamy
Sustainable messages being flashed across the screens at Chinnaswamy

All the wet waste collected from the matches was sent to an authorised biogas plant, where the gas generated is used either for cooking or to power vehicles. The dry waste was sent to our Material Recovery Facility where it was processed and dispatched to authorised recyclers. 

Our impact: 

Waste Streams:Quantity of Waste Generated 
Food waste 7,598 kg
Dry waste 34,025 kg 
Garden Waste 1,740 kg
Non-recoverable waste 4,711 kg (9.8% of total waste)
Total Waste Managed: 48,074 kg 

A total of 48,074 kgs of waste was generated at the IPL matches that took place in Bengaluru. Due to all our efforts, non-recoverable waste was reduced to less than 10% of the total waste generated at the event, resulting in 39,000 kgs of waste being diverted from landfills. 86 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were averted, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by 1422 trees over 10 years. 

Our field staff were provided with protective equipment, food, and transportation, and were compensated for overtime as per the labour laws. 

Saahas Zero Waste Field Team
SZW Field Team
Plastic Neutrality: A step towards saving the oceans

World Oceans Day was celebrated on 8th June 2019. However, while recognizing our oceans, we must also acknowledge the severe damages we have caused and the steps that must be taken in order to repair it.

According to recent estimates, there are currently approximately 51 trillion microplastic particles choking the oceans across the globe. In addition to this, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste is washed into the oceans every year. This colossal amount of waste is transferred into the oceans in a myriad of ways. 

Some are blown in from the land due to waste disposal systems being mismanaged, some are the waste that is dumped in rivers, which eventually join the oceans, and some are dumped directly into the ocean from ships and offshore oil and gas platforms.

The impact of this waste is realised only beyond national boundaries. There are five immense “garbage patches” that have formed in the oceanic gyres, each of which entails thousands of square kilometres filled with suspended microscopic plastic particles. The consequences of this are grave as it affects the entire marine ecosystem. Fish, seabirds, and other marine creatures that ingest plastic particles experience severe digestive problems, intestinal injury, and eventually, death.

A majority of plastic in the oceans is generated by Asia, and a large proportion of this comes solely from India. In the last few decades, there has been a sudden increase in the amount of waste, especially plastic, generated by India. Most rivers in the country are extremely choked with plastics, and all of these rivers lead directly either to the Bay of Bengal or to the Arabian Sea. The most harmful are the Indus, which carries the second highest amount of plastic debris in the world, and the Ganga, which carries the sixth highest amount of plastic debris, both of which flow directly into the oceans.

One of the ways in which this rampant plastic pollution can be controlled is through the act of Plastic Neutrality.  

Plastic Neutrality is a concept that aims at offsetting an individual’s plastic footprint, which is the amount of plastic an individual consumes, such that the net value of the footprint is zero. This is done either by individually recycling the plastic that one consumes or by supporting and contributing to organisations that recover and reprocess the waste produced by communities.

There are many organisations, such as rePurpose, that are helping individuals go Plastic Neutral. RePurpose carries out this process in multiple ways.

It calculates your unique plastic footprint and guides you on how to make changes in your everyday habits so that you can reduce your impact on the environment.  

It also helps you offset your footprint, where you can donate Rs. 35 for every kg of plastic that you consume and this money is redirected to waste management organisations such as Saahas Zero Waste.

Thus, you can go Plastic Neutral not only by reducing and recycling the plastic you consume but also by supporting organisations that recover and manage waste that is equivalent to your plastic footprint.

SZW uses the money contributed by individuals to ensure that all the waste produced by any community reaches its correct end destination. Plastics are collected and reprocessed so that none of it reaches a landfill, a river, or an ocean.

The trillions of microplastics that are choking our oceans today seem like a daunting challenge for any one person to tackle by themselves. But small changes in individual lifestyles, such as taking action to go Plastic Neutral, can slowly pave the way towards making our oceans healthy once again.

Microsoft employees on World Environment Day

Every year on the 5th of June, more than a hundred nations celebrate World Environment Day to raise awareness and take action to revive and protect the environment. The idea was first established by the United Nations during the Conference on Human Environment in 1972 and was first celebrated in 1974. Every year, a different nation hosts WED and chooses one urgent environmental issue as a theme that all campaigns are centered around. Last year, India hosted WED and all efforts were focused around beating Plastic Pollution. This year was hosted by China, and the central theme was to “Beat Air Pollution”.

World Environment Day was celebrated across all our client locations in 4 cities.

Air Pollution levels have been rapidly rising across the planet, making it an issue that deserves immediate attention and redressal. Every year, 6.5 million people die prematurely due to poor air quality. A huge contributor to air pollution is the open burning of waste and the accumulation of waste in landfills, which releases many harmful toxins into the atmosphere. The problem is exacerbated in big cities, where open burning of waste contributes to almost 30% of the air pollution. This crisis is particularly relevant to our country, as 14 out of the top 15 most polluted cities are located in India.

To celebrate World Environment Day 2019 and to contribute to the battle against air pollution, the Saahas Zero Waste team conducted a number of engagement activities at client locations. Engagements took place among employees at Amazon, Samsung, and Microsoft, among others, to raise awareness about how improper waste management contributes to rising levels of air pollution, and the changes one can make in one’s daily life to remedy the situation in some small way.

Several activities were carried out in order to achieve this, including a puzzle to provoke thought on waste management and its importance, an interactive game on the correct methods of waste segregation, and a sale of products made from recycled plastics, paper, cloth and Tetra Paks. Our team also created a large art installation to demonstrate the extent to which plastic has contaminated the planet. 

At every engagement, the employees took pledges to adopt certain sustainable habits in their everyday life. This was the culmination of all the activities of the engagement, which were aimed at demonstrating the interconnections of the environment. Not many people associate segregation of waste with abatement of air pollution. However, most people walked away with the understanding that air pollution does not have to be dealt with simply by planting more trees or cutting down fossil fuel emissions. Rather, many other sustainable habits also contribute to improving the health of the earth, such as segregation of waste.

In the case of Bengaluru, the city produces 5800 tonnes of waste every day. If this were managed in the right way, and all the waste was sent to the correct end destination rather than a landfill or an incinerator, the impact we would have on the environment would be equivalent to planting 239,761 trees for 10 years.

This World Environment Day, we encourage everyone to take a step back and think about how we can contribute to the environment, not just today, but every day of the year. Just as damage to one part of the environment catalyzes deterioration across all natural systems, even one small action to improve any one aspect of the environment will improve the health of the entire planet. 

Earth Day 2019: All Life on Earth is Precious

Protect the Species is the theme for Earth Day which we celebrate on Monday, April 22.

I personally connect with the quote from Rachel Carson which has been put up on the Earth Day website. It says “in nature, nothing exists alone”

Rachel Carson is the author of the insightful book Silent Spring. Written in the early sixties the book brought attention to reckless use of pesticides which were contaminating the natural environment and slowly poisoning living things. The book showed how these pesticides indiscriminately killed insects and other soil microorganisms and in the process also killed birds that depended on these insects for their own living. Her book influenced a movement which resulted in the ban of DDT in the United States and inspired the setting up of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

“In Nature Nothing exists Alone”. This statement rings in my head today as I reflect on our own organisations that have been working on issues related to waste for the last 18 years. How much change have we been able to bring in? How close are we to achieving zero waste living?

Like nature, organisations too cannot work alone. We need the ecosystem which comprises policies, producers, generators, solution providers, recyclers and consumers. A system can only become a circle if all of us work together.

I am a child of the sixties. I am concerned that in one generation, spanning fifty odd years, we have done so much damage to our planet. Repair and restore is fully possible but can we also do this in my generation?

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.

122 Tonnes by 2021: SZW, BCtA and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Launched at the United Nations in 2008, Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people at the base of the economic pyramid.

Over 220 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises in 70 countries have responded to BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water, sanitation, education, and other critical services.

BCtA member companies are market leaders that provide examples of successful, profitable and scalable models for reaching poor communities and contributing to global development.

SZW was extremely glad to receive membership to the BCtA late in 2018, and the following are the predefined SDGs we’re working towards :

SDG 1 : No Poverty

SDG 5 : Gender Equality

SDG 8 : Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG 10 : Reduced Inequalities

SDG 12 : Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 13 : Climate Action

While working towards these goals, Saahas Zero Waste has also committed to achieving the below two goals most pertinent to us.  

Before 2021, we aim to:

  • Divert 122 tonnes of solid waste per day from landfills
  • Provide employment & dignified livelihoods to approximately 800 people from lower socio-economic groups

Since its inception, SZW has always believed that our people are the driving force behind this journey to positively impact our planet. Today, we have 240 field staff from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. We aim to recognize their potential and encourage their personal development. We would like them to build careers, not just livelihoods. 

This means that each one of them is on our payroll, and receives all employee benefits as per Labour laws.

When Wilma began this enterprise back in 2000, Chinna Papa was our first employee.

18 years hence, she’s still with us and says she’s got no plans of changing that. She feels she is still improving, step by step. She has been able to get her son married because of her job and wants to save up more money to renovate her house.

Like Chinna Papa, all our employees have their own unique story of development and SZW is an amalgamation of all these.

While the informal waste management sector in India plays a critical role in the collection and bringing recyclables back into the value chain, workers have little or no access to minimum wages, social security benefits, personal protective equipment, and other safety, health and environmental practices.

To address this, SZW requires that all its partner industry actors must comply with minimum standards of health, safety, and environmental protection and ensure that no child labour is used in its operations.

In this way, our operations play a supportive role in formalising the waste management industry, including implementation of safety standards and compliance with the law, a reduction in the exploitation of vulnerable people, and contribution to the economy and state revenues.

All waste management activities such as collection, sorting, baling and composting are done by SZW employees, approximately 80 percent of whom are female low-income earners. In this way, we want to create dignified, sustainable and safe livelihoods for them.

250 Tonnes in 7 Days – IMTEX 2019 at Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre

Indian Metal-cutting Machine Tool Exhibition or IMTEX 2019 is an event by Indian Machine Tool Manufacturer’s Association (IMTMA) showcasing machine tools, metrology and current trends in the tooling industry. It is a flagship event for the Indian metal cutting industry.

This year, IMTEX was held at Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre (BIEC), a premier and spacious venue in Tumkur.

Saahas Zero Waste is a social enterprise offering integrated waste management services to bulk waste generators in South India. The company was registered in June 2013 to offer professional services to Corporates, Apartments and Institutions and is empanelled by the BBMP. This year we partnered with IMTEX to support the organisers execute a Zero Waste event.

As sustainability becomes increasingly accepted as a concept within organizations and communities across the nation, the idea of zero waste events is also gaining acceptance. A zero waste event is one that is organized sustainably and looks closely at the entire cycle beginning from waste prevention, reuse and finally, recycling of all waste generated from the event.

Over a week, IMTEX 2019 saw over 1 lakh visitors from all over the world; eager to display and procure tools but also intrigued by our stall and products at the event.

The Saahas Zero Waste stall at IMTEX 2019.

The large number of visitors also resulted in large volumes of waste being generated. This included food waste, dry waste and waste on account of setting up and dismantling of stalls.

On-site wet waste management units at BIEC operated by SZW.

Segregation at source was minimal and there was considerable littering around the premises so there were many challenges.  

We had a big team of 40 who worked round the clock for 20 days. The end result was that we were able to recover resources from a whopping 250 tonnes of waste. The waste was transported through 150 trucks to our Material Recovery Facility. At the MRF, our field team took over to further sort and aggregate the waste. About 30 different waste categories were sent to different recyclers.

BIEC halls post cleanup.

Through this intensive endeavour and despite the obstacles faced along the way, we managed to recycle 99% of the total waste generated, and prevented 484 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent of  removing 102 vehicles off the road.

The SZW team that worked over 20 days to collect, process and segregate the waste.

Sustainability Starter Kit – how you can battle and win against single-use plastics

We’ve been talking about saying no to disposables for a large part of last year.

Most plastic used in the world today is for single-use items and paper is no sustainable alternative. Globally, we consume 300 million tonnes of paper each year, 70% of which comes from diminishing forests, not from plantations or recycling.

Everyone agrees that our collective usage of plastic needs to be reduced, but the implementation is where we tend to fall short. What we need to realize about sustainability is that rather than citing the WHY, we need to plan out the HOWs for every small act of change.

Medieval Europe had a wonderfully weird trend. It was common for a simpleton to walk around sporting his/her knife which would be used for every meal, wiped clean and then returned to their person. A sixth-century text reminded monks to detach their knives from their belts before they went to bed, so they didn’t cut themselves.

It was not a social norm to expect cutlery to be provided with every meal.

And within these social norms lies vast potential for change.

It’s just not a norm or expectation yet to carry your cutlery/container everywhere you go! This is the crux of the problem.

So what’s in your bag?

Gum? Some pens, your wallet, phone, a book you read for 5 minutes on the bus…any extra room?

Last year we noticed a rising trend in backpacks in offices, malls, and even clubs and restaurants. They were being made sleek and stylish to cater to every occasion. Everybody loves the extra room and being able to compartmentalize all their belongings.

It just takes 4 small items to avoid single-use plastics forever –


Half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually around the world. Last year, a 10-meter Sperm Whale carcass washed ashore the Indonesian coast with 130 disposable cups inside its stomach.

A bottle that comes with a moderately sized lid could double as a cup.

Vendors in India – Saahas Zero Waste, Milton

Price of a Reusable Bottle – Rs. 800

Spoon + Fork

It is estimated that China alone throws away ~ 80 billion pairs of chopsticks every year. Environmentalists are promoting reusable chopsticks in cute cloth bags and containers to avoid this ecological disaster. Other parts of the Globe are not doing any better with respect to cutlery wastage.

Invest in a nice steel or titanium Spork – a single unit with both a spoon and fork.

Vendors in India – Shri & Sam, Light My Fire

Price of a Steel Spork –  Rs. 300


Less than one-fourth of all plastic containers are recycled around the world. The average life of each container is approximately 5 minutes – the time it takes to eat from it. In Bangalore, initiatives like “Rent a Cutlery” and “Spill Savers” are looking to combat this problem.

Vendors in India – Amazon, Big Basket

Price of a Steel container – Rs. 180


The humble plastic straw we drink beverages with and throw away in minutes is a tool to render a slow and painful death to marine and bird life. Every day, enough plastic straws are produced in America alone to fill 200 school buses.

Vendors in India – Bamboo India, Shunya, BareNecessities

Price of a Reusable straw – Rs. 70

Get an all-purpose backpack today. Try and be a part of the solution, not of the pollution.

Saahas Zero Waste Successfully Registered as a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) by CPCB

In late December 2018, the UK based, Royal Statistical Society released their ‘Statistic of the Year’ – a figure that indicates the general trends and key talking points from the past year. The judges chose the figure 90.5% – which is the amount of plastic that has never been recycled and remains with us on the planet.

All through last year plastic pollution hit the headlines. We now know that there are around 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean.  There is therefore a high probability that those of us who consume seafood or even salt would unknowingly also consume particles of plastic. This fact is reflected through studies which confirm the presence of plastic in human faeces.

As an organisation we have been alert to plastic pollution since 2010. We have supported all our partners and customers to reduce the use of plastic; especially, one time use products as such as possible. We have also worked closely with brands and other manufacturers to collect, store, aggregate and send various grades of plastic to end processing facilities so that they can be recycled, upcycled or disposed off responsibly in other means.
Our experience and work on the ground has now been recognized. Our company has now been registered by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) under the Plastic Waste Management Rules.

The Plastic Waste Management Rules’ Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) clause makes it mandatory for companies and brands that use plastic packaging to channel their packaging into a reverse logistics system that will draw the plastic waste out of the system and put it through processing system instead of it ending up at a landfill.

The registration gives us the authorization to partner with brands and companies to support them in their compliance to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and build a custom reverse logistics system that works for them.

EPR is a good instrument to bring accountability towards plastic waste especially waste with low economic value. In January, 2019, we expect to channel 300 tonnes of low grade plastic waste into collection. The collected plastic will then be sent to cement kilns for co-processing.

We understand that our efforts as yet do not match the scale of the problem. There is so much more that needs to be done; mainly building a closed loop recycling system that will plug into a circular rather than a linear economy. Rest assured, we will all be pulling in the same direction in 2019 to make this a reality.

Saahas Waste Management Private Limited is a registered PRO for the following EEE codes:


E-waste can be dropped off at these collection points:

  • Kasa Rasa 1, 149, Ejipura Main Rd, Gowda Muniswamy Garden, Ejipura, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560095
  • Kasa Rasa 2, Koramangala Industrial Layout, Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034
  • Kasa Rasa 3, Survey No 15, (ORR – Whitefield Bypass Road)., Alpine Eco Rd, Dodda Nekkundi Extension, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560048
  • Saahas Zero Waste, #21, MCHS Colony, 5th C Cross, 16th Main Rd, Stage 2, BTM Layout, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560076

To deposit e-waste at the nearest collection point across India, please call us on the toll-free number mentioned below. List of collection centres across India can be found here.

For information on further collection points, please call us on the toll-free number mentioned below.

For any e-waste consultancy or EPR related queries, please contact our customer care number.

Toll free number: 080 2836 0902

Customer care number: 080 4168 9889

Is the Industry ready to implement Extended Producer Responsibility policies in India?

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?
The concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)  is that the responsibility of the producer of a product is extended beyond conventional sales to its post-consumer or end-of-life (EOL) stage. This means that the producer is responsible for collection of the used products or packaging material and ensure its safe recycling or disposal.

Why do we need EPR ?
The idea behind EPR is to encourage producers to consider the end-of-life processing of their products right from the design stage. There by designing products which are long lasting and easily recyclable. There is a significant cost of collection and recycling of these waste which should be borne by the producer and not be passed on to the government or the environment.

Currently in India over 90% of all Electronic waste is managed by the informal sector with no safety measures or scientific recycling techniques.
Billions of multi layered plastics (MLP) (basically all our chips and biscuit packets) are either being burnt or dumped into our oceans and landfills causing serious health repercussions to animals and plants.
To counter this, we have certain EPR policies in India as described below requiring the producers of such materials to set up systems for collection and recycling.

EPR Policies in India
Currently India has EPR policies for Electronic waste and

The E-Waste (Management & Handling) Rules 2011 introduced the concept of EPR for the first time in India. All producers of electronics like Phones, Computers, Washing Machines were responsible for setting up reverse logistics for collection of E-Waste and channelizing it to State Pollution Control Board authorized recyclers.
In March 2016, the E-Waste policy was amended with the new E-Waste (Management) Rules 2016 being notified by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. The new rules set stringent targets for the producers to collect and recycle EOL products starting from 30% in the first two years and increasing to 70% by the seventh year while simplifying the process of applying for EPR Authorization.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 also enforces EPR for plastic producers in the country and has banned the manufacturing of non-recyclable plastics in two years of implementation.

EPR Policies in other parts of the world
EPR is a popular concept in the western countries for different streams of materials. EPR for packaging materials exists in EU, Canada, and Germany. Similarly, EPR for automobiles in countries like Germany and Netherlands and EPR for paints in British Columbia have been in place for the past few years.
Organizations like Ellen Macarthur foundation based in the USA have been promoting the framework of a circular economy and its implementation across the world.
By publishing research documents outlining economic benefits, partnering with companies like H&M to design circular solutions, and running a $2M innovation prize to keep plastics out of the ocean, the foundation is demonstrating the seriousness of moving in the direction of building a circular economy which is at the heart of the concept of EPR.

Industry Response
Owing to the excellent work by the Central Pollution Control Board, over 150 electronic producers have applied for EPR Authorization and around 85 have received the authorization certificate. But there is still some resistance from the electronics Industry in accepting the policy stating that the targets are extremely ambitious and unreal given the Indian scenario.
The plastic manufacturers especially the multi layered plastic (MLP) manufacturers are yet to take any concrete steps in setting up a system for collection and channelling of their post-consumer packaging products.
Multi-layered plastics (MLP) are made up of a layered composition of various types of plastics with non-plastics such as aluminium foil. These are non recyclable and are currently polluting our soil and water bodies.

Proof of Concept
While there are various challenges in implementing EPR, there are also proactive producers like Tetra Pak who have been voluntarily collecting and recycling its packaging waste from across the country through channel partners for over 8 years.
They work with various stakeholders across the country including collection agencies and recyclers to develop the market for Tetra Pak recycling.
Tetra Pak cartons are being recycled into various products like Roofing sheets, Chipboards and stationery items.

Challenges in Implementation of EPR

  • Segregation of waste at source will be key for resource recovery of EPR products. Producer companies will need to contribute significantly to improve awareness of source segregation and the need to recycle.
  • Plastic waste and E-Waste are well spread across the country. There is a lack of formalized reverse logistics companies as setting up a collection network could be extremely complex and expensive.
  • The informal sector manages around 90% of all these waste streams. Upgrading them into the formal means of responsible waste management while ensuring their adherence to compliances will be challenging.

Road Ahead

  • EPR policies should bring about effective collaborations between various stakeholders like the central and state government, producers, consumers as well as the informal sector to effectively mitigate the impact on climate change and pollution caused by these waste materials. Stringent EPR policies will be instrumental in ensuring implement the sacred 3R principle (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) hence facilitating a circular economy.
  • The inclusion of the informal sector would play a key role in the successful implementation of these policies. This will strongly influence better livelihood for the deserved community of Base of Pyramid Population and provide reliable careers in waste management industry.
  • The onus is now on the producers, to take the required initiatives to address this growing problem. Producers need to contribute significantly and work with specialist collection partners to ensure large volumes of their EOL products are recovered through this reverse logistics network.

Yes In My Backyard! A Case For Decentralized Waste Management

Waste management is a problem globally and in India it is obvious in all cities because waste litters the road. Waste is actually a symptom of capitalism and consumerism putting distance between the average consumer and the source and destination of all of the items we use on a daily basis. This results in lack of awareness of the products we put in or on our body, or interact with. And where these products end up after we use them, is rarely considered.

Historically, waste has been associated with a negative connotation. Generators of waste experience an economic common phenomenon called ‘NIMBY’ Syndrome (Not In My Backyard) where they are happy if the waste is cleared from their homes or offices. With this feeling of no responsibility, the outcome is that there is not much care nor thought about the destination of waste, illegal dumping and burning of material, use of child labor, or not paying minimum wages in this sector.

Although there are many potential ways to handle waste, decentralized waste management is a simple method to process waste, it provides a transparency on what happens to your waste, and opens doors to having a positive impact on your community.

In a circular economy, we can embrace the idea that just like sewage, municipal solid waste can be right in our backyards. Bulk generators, like corporate companies, tech parks, residentials complexes, and institutions can set a few goals and put plans in motion in order to make the change to onsite waste management.

Not Rocket Science
With onsite management, 90% of your waste can be handled onsite and the intriguing thing about is, if managed properly, it is simple to do. There are of course different streams to process: at the highest level wet (organic) material, dry (recyclable) material, and sanitary/rejects. Professional waste managers know how to quickly set up standard and custom processes for all of these streams. With some lightweight infrastructure, training for waste generators and handlers, and a plan for ongoing operations, getting a waste management unit up and running can be possible in a few weeks.

Composting requires a 30-40 day cycle and sorting recyclables can be handled daily.  If you have high quantities of waste, having an onsite biogas plant can also be a solution that has a decent ROI. Just like modern onsite Sewage Treatment Plants, onsite waste management plants can operate smoothly, clean, and odorless. At Saahas Zero Waste, we leverage nature, people and technology to make managing waste easy for our clients.
Sensible Economics

Beyond the practicality of installing an in situ waste management system, there are economic benefits to consider.

The first is that if you partner with an expert in zero waste, you would receive recommendations on how to reduce waste generation ranging from minimizing use and throw disposables, to finding alternative products, to reducing food waste etc. At Saahas Zero Waste, for many streams of waste we give different approaches that organizations and can take in the short and long term to see a difference in waste quantities.

You would also reduce your transport cost of sending your waste off to a far away land. Right now, transport of waste includes vehicle costs, labor costs, and many times tipping (disposal) fees, removal of processable waste can become costly if your service provider is compliant with statutory regulations (meaning they are paying their staff minimum wage, not employing child labor, and not paying bribes). By processing waste onsite, you will easily save on transport costs.

Further, especially with wet waste, by processing organic material onsite, you will generate an output, either usable compost or biogas that can be reused onsite thereby offsetting other costs that you may be incurring to manage your garden or your kitchens.
Lastly, by creating an onsite ecosystem for waste, it is possible to remove the daily expense of having bin liners. With a bin to bin system (waste is transported directly from collection bins to processing bins), you don’t have to purchase plastic bags for the handling of waste. By making a one time investment in sturdy washable bins, you can remove the need for an unnecessary ongoing expenses.

Increasing your impact
Of course, by managing waste on site, you would be a pioneer in the industry: someone who is willing to take a chance that may seem strange to others, but is completely logical and for the improvement of your society. These sort of benefits generally are unfortunately not captured in an economic sense, but it doesn’t mean that they are not worth pursuing.
Reduction in waste to landfill and GHG gas emissions: by handling as much waste as possible on site, you are ensuring that you are minimizing your waste being dumped informally and therefore are preventing the release of greenhouse gasses which cause climate change and have severe impacts for the state of humanity

Increase in recycled materials: extending the life of material is critical, as our resources are limited and we have the technology to retain value from the materials that we feel no longer serve us a purpose (This is closing the loop!)

Compost back to the soil: as large scale agriculture and development ensues, our soil quality is rapidly decreasing. Food waste, if processed properly into compost, provides incredible nutrients that are vital to the health of the soil and will help provide a safe environment for plants to grow. (This is also closing the loop!)

Employment and livelihoods: by engaging with partners who employ underprivileged women and men, you provide dignified, safe, and reliable careers to people who cease to work hard.  

Accountability for your waste: at the end of the day, with your waste being handled in your backyard, it is easy to know the destination. The knowledge that you are compliant with local rules and regulations, and not polluting the earth for this generation or the next, can give you peace of mind.
So take some time to consult local experts on managing waste on site – we promise, it’s easy to get started!

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