Hundreds of tonnes of plastic discarded by Bengalureans is being converted into drip irrigation products, recycled tiles, paver blocks and water pipes, thanks to Swachha Eco Solutions (SES), an NGO that began its journey in 2012.
SES operates in coordination with BBMP’s dry waste collection centres in 54 wards and recycles over 150 tonnes of plastic every month. It recently bagged the Namma Bengaluru Award. The firm was founded by three Bengalureans — Rajesh Babu, Victoria Joslin D’souza and Vinay Raghavan — driven by the motto ‘Zero Landfills’.
Speaking about their products which are made of recycled plastic, Rajesh said they can be recycled again after use. “Swachha ReTiles are manufactured by converting discarded plastic — which is durable and has passed all technical tests — into recyclable plastic paver tiles,” he elaborated.
The venture aims at providing waste and water management services, solar-powered products, upcycled, recycled and green alternatives along with Do It Yourself (DIY) videos and blogs to encourage participation from everyone. “The firm has been operational for six years and not even a kilo of our waste has been sent to a landfill,” said Victoria.
The firm also provides incentives to pourakarmikas to practice segregation, thereby getting rid of middlemen. “The platform connects rural entrepreneurs, women self-help groups and small businesses. We work with all stakeholders, including ragpickers.
We collect waste from them and organise programmes to educate them about the material, demand and price of the commodities. We also provide minimum support price for the waste they have collected the whole year,” said Rajesh. The firm has 73 direct employees and 243 impact employees.
SES is also authorised to collect, transport, process and compost waste from bulk generators such as apartments complexes. Segregated wet waste from the complexes is transported to farmlands around the periphery of Bengaluru and composted there.
Vinay said they have noticed a clear difference in waste management at apartment complexes where they work. “Before we came into the picture, some complexes in north Bengaluru required one truck for waste collection every day. Slowly, their dependence on BBMP trucks reduced. Now, one truck is being sent once in two days. Transportation costs incurred by BBMP have also dipped substantially,” added Vinay.
The firm works mostly in Yelahanka and surrounding areas. Youngster has rescued over 350 birds in 4 years Bird rescuer Amit Shroff, 23, gets unusually busy when its windy, usually from October to February every year. He gets calls from the public and BBMP helpline about birds being stuck in Chinese manja, a thread used to fly kites.
In the past four years, he has rescued over 350 birds of 25-30 species — including cuckoos, black kites, parakeets and tailor birds — and rehabilitated them with the help of other voluntary organisations.
Amit’s love for birds dates back to his childhood days when he had parakeets at home. Along with three like-minded friends — landscape artist Harsha Tej, finance professional Venkatesh Chandra Sai and bird keeper Rajesh N — he started a volunteer group called Voice Nest Foundation (VNF) in January 2015. Birds and animals that are rescued are rehabilitated in two centres, in Horamavu and Ulsoor, depending on the distance from the place of rescue.
When rescuing crows, helmet is a must to avoid being attacked by the bird. “It takes less than 10 seconds to keep the bird inside the box. We shouldn’t frighten it as it may affect the rehabilitation process,” said Amit, a finance manager in a private firm who belongs to Hospet. Instead of open cages, which may cause birds to panic, closed cardboard boxes with holes for ventilation are used for transportation.
Amit’s team also aims to create awareness among the public on the need to rescue trapped birds. ‘People are hesitant to approach or rescue birds that are caught in threads. One must not feed them as it may choke the bird, leading to death. It’s advisable to place water in a small container near the bird,” he added.
Setting Them Free
Amit asks the caller to identify the bird species and send its photo. “If we see an exterior wound, chances of survival after rehabilitation are very low. The bird can be approached from the back so that it doesn’t flap its wings. Holding it by the tail or edges of the wings can hinder flying. The bird is then carefully placed in a cardboard box. Birds like kites, parakeets, crows, mynas and bulbuls are rescued in this manner,” he explained.