Hyderabad: It is a battle against the ubiquitous plastic bottle. And against plastic bags, sachets, cups and glasses designed for one-time use. To make a dent in the ever-growing menace of plastic wastes, the age-old system of barter, which had disappeared for all practical purposes, has been brought back by some officials in Telangana. And the results have been nothing short of encouraging, to say the least.
With offers ranging from one kg of fine rice for every one kg of plastic wastes turned in, or half a dozen eggs for two kilos of plastic waste, people in rural areas of the State appear to have enthusiastically embraced the new system in which everyone ends up a winner. The villages are getting cleaner, people could take home rice and eggs and recycling units are finding ready raw material.
According to Mulugu Collector C Narayana Reddy, who launched the rice-for-plastic waste initiative last month, the initial inspiration came from students of government schools who were given cricket kits as part of Swachh Bharat campaign with the kids coming back within an hour after collecting around 1,000 plastic bottles. This morphed into the rice-for-plastic waste scheme and the initial response was overwhelming. As much as 51,000 kg of plastic waste has been handed over at collection points by October-end, in just about two weeks, with an equal amount of fine rice being given in return to those collected plastic wastes. And in turn, the effort in just one district has resulted in streets, roads and other areas in 174 gram panchayats suddenly becoming cleaner with hardly any plastic wastes to be seen.
The aim, according to the Collector, is to prevent plastic wastes from entering landfills. Following the cricket kits incentive, it was decided that fine rice would be a good option and as it proved later, it turned out to be the right decision with some individuals receiving anywhere up to 70 kg of rice. The drive also evoked a great response from people who are concerned about environment, as they stepped forward to donate rice and cash for the scheme. The money collected has been used to provide employment for women from self-help groups to stitch cloth bags which were given to people collecting the rice.