Published: 20th February 2021
Winn some, lose nothing: This Chennai-based company ensures that your waste doesn't go to waste
Waste Winn ensures that a majority of the waste collected is turned to manure, while the rest is recycled. This is their story
Garbage. It's not something we pay enough heed to. But did you know that a simple act of segregating waste at home could greatly reduce an otherwise cumbersome and menial process of segregation? Not to mention the climatic and economic impact it could have.
Over the last few years, efforts to raise awareness on the importance of waste segregation has been on the rise. You see blue bins and green bins everywhere, but a lot of times, different kinds of waste end up getting mixed. Waste Winn, an organisation co-founded by I Priyadarshini aims to fix this problem for good.
Wondering how? They simply have more categories of segregation and take care of the entire process from source segregation to destination. They first provide the kit which includes a bin for kitchen waste, a bin for plastics and another bag for other dry waste. They then collect the waste and send the kitchen waste for composting. From the rest of it, recyclable waste is sold to kabadiwalas and only a tiny percentage ends up in landfills.
Explaining what drove her to start this, Priyadarshini says, "When we started, we didn't have a clue about waste management. But as volunteers, we were involved in tree plantation and beach clean up drives. In our clean up drives, we would just collect waste and send it to landfills. But when we saw that the landfills were overflowing, we realised that this was not the solution for dumped waste. Our clean up drives weren't doing any good, only the destination of waste was different. We might have beautified the spot, but there was no solution for the waste. That's when we came to know about solid waste management rules. At that time, the Bengaluru High Court made source segregation mandatory. We began studying about how it helps the environment."
Waste Winn then implemented their first project in Nochikuppam, a slum clearance board near Marina beach. They started by creating awareness about segregation of waste in those blocks as the waste discarded by the residents there ended up in the beach.
Seeing the success of their work, nearby apartment authorities approached them and said they would also like to avail their services. These apartments had been following source segregation, but they found out that the garbage collectors were mixing it up all over again. These residents didn't want their efforts to go to waste.
So when they approached Waste Winn, the team came up with this idea. Priyadarshini explains, "In Chennai, we have the infrastructure to process organic or kitchen waste. In a corporation zone, say there is a 5 tonne capacity micro composting centre, only 500 kg was being fed. We approached the authorities and asked if we could feed our waste. They were happy to let us and that became the destination for our waste. We sell all the recyclables to kabadiwalas and make revenue out of it. Only sanitary waste goes to landfills."
An average Indian family generates 60 per cent kitchen waste. With Waste Winn's services, that 60 per cent goes to composting, 30 per cent to recycling and only 5 per cent to landfills.
Priyadarshini and her team targets bulk waste generators, which according to the government, is any apartment having 5,000 sq mt area or anybody who generates more than 100 kg waste. The team collects waste from them and processes it. They take the organic waste to the dumpyard and process it into manure. Dry waste is further categorised 79 materials and sent to recyling units. How Waste Winn is different from other organisations is that they sell all the valuables like newspapers and carton boxes. They even aggregate things like chocolate covers and send it to cement factories to be used as refuse derived fuel. So not a piece of plastic ends up in landfills.
Waste Winn caters to 30 apartments complexes, two tech parks and one hotel in Chennai, apart from nine shipping companies. They have a team of ragpickers, about 30 families, who are involved in the collection process and sorting. Whatever revenue is generated is given to them.
While Priyadarshini sure has made a mark with her efforts, the journey hasn't been easy. In fact, she has even received death threats for her work. In a suburb in Chennai, a group of party workers held contracts for garbage disposal and water supply. They made a lot of money from it. But they would just collect the waste and dump it in the Buckingham canal. The residents weren't happy and approached Waste Winn to take over the contract. That didn't go well with the party workers as they started losing business. So they started threatening her to leave. They even threatened her son. But Priyadarshini stayed put and filed a case which is still on today.
She says nothing will stop her, and we believe her.