In Pune, India, the annual Ganapati Visarjan celebrations have always had an adverse effect on the environment, leaving rivers full of plastic, rags and litter. In an effort to remedy the problem, the Nirmalaya Project was set up.
The word Nirmalaya means the remains of offerings made to the god Shiva in Hindu and “purity” in Sanskrit. Thanks to the project, this city of two and a half million inhabitants has seen a change over recent years, with waste now being collected and sent for recycling or disposal. Not all of it yet, but it is a promising start. This is just a part of a larger project to improve waste collection and recovery, involving more than 3,500 waste pickers in the Indian city, through the SWaCH consortium. The consortium provides training and a minimum level of protection for those who make their living selling what they find in the rubbish. And this means that 70,000 tonnes of waste are now being recycled every year.
In the six years since it was launched, the WISP project (Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme) in Cape Town, South Africa, has saved 25 thousand tonnes of waste a year from being dumped in landfill, thanks to the introduction of the circular economy in local companies, who use the waste to produce energy. This has also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 309,000 tonnes and generated 7 million of dollars in savings.
Moving 11 thousand kilometres southeast to New Zealand, a new separated collection programme set up in Christchurch, the country’s third largest city, has been turning what was previously thrown away into 53 thousand tonnes of compost for agricultural use every year.