WOW – Wealth Out of Waste
Indian paper industry is growing at 10% on an average across segments and expected to touch 28 million MT per annum by 2025 from current level of 10 Million MT. This poses a big question of meeting the raw material needs of rapidly growing industry. With close to 200% growth in just 15 years, where is the raw material to produce the paper?
Indian Raw Material Scenario
With limited wood resources through plantations route and absolutely no access to natural forest wood, due to strict government regulations, how will the country provide raw material to paper industry.
Key raw material used by paper industry are, Wood, Agri-residue and Waste Paper. Wood availability is an issue as detailed in the foregoing and agri residue has problems of seasonality, other end-uses, restricted availability, logistics and handling issues and unorganized supply chain.
That leaves us with Waste paper. India imports 4.8 million MT of waste paper per annum at a cost of USD1.6 Billion from USA and Europe and both these sources are reaching saturation point in terms of collection and processing with both the regions clocking impressive 62% and 70% recovery levels respectively.
China being the largest importer of waste paper at 28 million MT, with ever growing demand and waste paper imports are likelyto touch 60 Million MT by 2015. With such exponential growth in Chinese demand for recycled fiber where would India stand, when availability in USA and Europe reaching the peak already?
Other disturbing and important area of concern is India dumps over 5 Million MT of paper every year into garbage and end up in landfills.
The Initiative (WOW) Wealth from Waste
Keeping this critical and very disturbing scenario in view, ITC – India’s largest paperboard manufacturing company has initiated WOW: Wealth Out of Waste program in 2007 April. The objective of this initiative is to create awareness among general public, school children, housewives, corporate employees and executives as well as industries and business enterprises about the growing concern for environment and inculcate habit of source segregation and recycling.
Initial hiccups and hardships are natural in every such initiative, where the entire activity has to start from a ZERO base. However the WOW team stuck to its job with perseverance and determination. Situation improved as the idea of WOW started sinking in. Some of the people responded very positively, while others thought, this is another CSR publicity and may not be pursued on long term basis.
Current operations of WOW span across all major cities in South India – Hyderabad, Vizag, Vijayawada, Guntur, Rajahmundry and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai in Tamilnadu and Bangalore in Karnataka.
Current collection of recyclables has touched 5000 MT per month from all the locations. However the potential is immense, considering every individual generates 0.5kgs of garbage per day and 30% of it, if recovered can be recycled.
In the process of implementing WOW and improving availability of cost effective raw material to Paper, plastic, metal and glass industries, which is the primary objective, the other major gains envisaged are conserving natural resources, protecting environment, reducing landfill burden, reduction in garbage handling efforts and costs by various municipalities, improving health and hygiene, provide clean and green surroundings and reduce impact of global warming.
WOW operates on a simple method of source segregation of recyclables, systematic collection of the same; arrange separation into various components like paper, plastic, metal and after baling supply to respective industries for recycling.
The collection of recyclables is arranged once in a fortnight by sending the WOW team and after accurate weighing pay for the recyclables at Rs.2 to Rs.4 per kg. Collected recyclables are brought to a hub where they get sorted and baled into different categories and get recycled by respective industries. ITC uses all paper and cartons in its units at Kovai and Bhadrachalam, collected through WOW program.
Work Towards Transition
The major reasons for India lagging behind in the aspect of source segregation and recycling, compared to USA or Europe are, that our habits are deep rooted and we lack discipline.
With every new born child, garbage levels are also increases by 0.500 kgs per day. With Indian population growing at 2 crores per annum, the garbage level goes up by 3.65 million MT per annum. By 2015 India’s population will be 1.3 billion and the annual garbage generated will be 600 million MT. With limited land mass and ever growing population where will we dump the mounting garbage?
Therefore in order to inculcate the good habit of recycling and ensuring a cleaner and healthier society as they grow older and become citizens of this nation, WOW team have started reaching out to school children and explaining about WOW.
When children understood the meaning and advantages of WOW and prevailed upon their parents, they have started implementing the idea of source segregation at residences and a large chunk of recyclables, which were otherwise ending up in landfills through garbage route are now reaching the industry.
If we adopt WOW and source segregate at least 15% of this garbage, useful recyclables could be as much as 54 million MT per annum. Ignoring this critical issue will allow the garbage to pile up and will result in serious issues.
As intelligent, responsible and educated people are we not sensitive to these issues? So let us join hands and make our country “CLEAN and GREEN” by adopting WOW.
National Recycling Day
National Recycling Day inaugurated on 1st July by Dr.K Rosaiah, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Mr. S. Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister for Urban Development, in the presence of thousands of children and over 800 teachers and school principals and 1200 dignitaries from Industry and Business shall pave way for nationwide understanding of the critical issue of Recycling and protecting the environment.