Inspiring Sustainability in India, one ‘Recycling Machine’ at a time

At One Planet Rating, we are driven by the thought, ‘Our choices have impact. We need to make the right ones. Together, we will be a much greater force for positive change.’ In line with this thinking, we aim to put forth such initiatives from around the world and highlight the change they are inspiring.

As the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) initiative has gained momentum over the last few years, it has inspired a surge in tourists visiting India. As the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index published by The World Economic Forum revealed earlier this year, India jumped 12 places to 40th rank globally in travel and tourism competitiveness. A lot of this credit needs to be given to initiatives stemming from individual citizens.

India has been tackling a major problem in plastic waste. As reported in a recent post by Plasteurope, a government estimate two years ago reported Delhi generating around 250,000 t of plastics waste annually with more than 10m plastic bags used and discarded daily. And this is just one city in a country with over 400 urban cities, nearly 8000 towns and close to 650,000 villages. So the problem is valid and real.

This is where an initiative by Harish Karrande has come to the rescue promising a viable solution. By developing the Recycle Machine, he hopes each citizen would become a Global Corporate Citizen, committing to recycle every PET bottle that is thrown into waste. These machines have been designed to dispose and recover products effectively and are a cost effective way for recycling and disposal of waste. The adoption and use of this fairly recent project is testament to the change it’s driving.

We interacted with Harish to know more about this project, what inspired him to undertake it and how people are reacting to it.

OPR: What was the biggest motivation in initiating such a project?

Harish: I have traveled the world and seen a number of initiatives taken to reduce the harmful effects of plastic. India has such a vast population and people generally tend to throw plastic bottles on the streets. Besides the lack of proper segregation of waste material, there is little incentive to trigger a behavioral change. A thought that got me interested in initiating this is, ‘If they get some incentive they may put the bottles in the right place’. And that’s how the thought of setting up a pet bottle recycle machine came to my mind. But with a great idea it was also necessary to pump in funds. Such a project needed a huge investment where Mr. Arvind Shah of Wild West Media came in to my rescue, helping me realize this dream.

OPR: Could you give our readers an idea of how exactly the machine works and what can they expect from using it? 

Harish: The machine is a refrigerator size booth with digital display screen for interactive communication. The person puts the bottle in the machine by leaving it on a conveyor belt. The bottle is transferred to the crushing unit within. It will later be recovered and recycled. An interactive screen acts as a display showing options to select the incentive people may choose and these can include discount coupons from food outlets or other shopping options.

OPR: How has the reception been to the project, in particular with the respective municipal authorities?

Harish: All of the respective authorities we’ve interacted have appreciated our good work and that what continues to direct us on our journey.

OPR: And the public? Do you see the response you expected the project to generate?

Harish: Yes the public response is very good because they are increasingly realizing the benefits of recycling and are no longer left to dump pet bottles. Besides, the huge discount coupons they receive is a great benefit for them to continue doing so.

OPR: How many and which locations have the Recycle machines been installed and what are the plans going ahead?

Harish: We have already sold 32 machines till now which are installed at Western Railways Mumbai Mumbai metro line, Kochi metro and Hyderabad airport. All of these machines were bought by Wild West Media and Wockhardt Foundation, an NGO working to empower the underprivileged.

OPR: There are a growing number of such initiatives from citizens across India. What is the kind of support you feel is still needed to provide an impetus to such movements?

Harish: We’ve not really felt a lack of support. There is a growing awareness amongst people around the benefits of cleanliness and sustainability across India. This has been a great factor in easing our movement. Whomsoever we’ve approached have been more than open and willing to aid us in this and provide incentives.

OPR: How has the Swachh Bharat program of the Govt. aligned with your campaign and what has been the kind of support received from the Govt.?

Harish: Our project aligns well in terms of the Swachh Bharat campaign. While the Govt. is not yet involved with our program, we’ve received appreciation on the same via sources within the Govt. on various platforms, one being social media such as twitter.

OPR: What is your favorite destination and why? Was there something sustainability related aspect to it?

Harish: Middle East is a favorite destination. Besides, the initiatives I’ve seen and I read a lot about some being taken within the UAE by the Govt. around the theme of Sustainability is just so amazing.

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