Start-up launches DRS system to incentivise plastic waste disposal at Kedarnath

  • | Saturday | 16th July, 2022

Dehradun, Jul 16 (PTI) A Hyderabad-based start-up has launched a unique deposit refund system at Kedarnath in collaboration with the district administration to address the problem of littering and incentivise plastic waste disposal at the Himalayan temple.Under the deposit refund system introduced by the start-up called Recykal, the pilgrims have to pay an additional Rs 10 on every plastic bottle of water, beverages, soft drinks or consumer goods packaged in plastic at the time of buying it and the amount is refunded when they return it.A scannable QR sticker is put on each bottle or plastic packet by shop owners on the way to the temple for identification.Even if some pilgrims decide to forgo their refund and throw away the bottles and plastic packets, anyone who picks those up and returns those to the collection centre, known as the deposit refund centre, is paid Rs 10 per bottle or packet, founder of Recykal Abhay Deshpande told PTI.The plastic waste collected in this manner is then supplied to over 200 recyclers all over the country, he said."Recykal"s Deposit Refund System (DRS) has been designed to solve the existing challenges of ineffective collection and channelisation of waste at Kedarnath. By placing a value on waste, we are enabling efficient increased material recovery and better quality for recycling," Deshpande said.Apart from incentivising people for cleaning up the area, this disruptive technology-driven system has been able to generate an additional source of livelihood for "pitthuwalas" (people who carry pilgrims in a basket on their shoulders) and Sulabh employees, he added."By returning 10 bottles, I earn around Rs 100 that cover a portion of my daily meals," Ravi, a pitthuwala, said."It also keeps my area clean. So I am happy," he added.The increased participation by tourists and locals in the Deposit Refund System has led to a whopping 54 per cent increase in plastic collection, with more and more plastic being retrieved every day, Deshpande said.By taking part in the initiative, tourists and locals have diverted over 20,000 plastic items from Himalayan rivers and landfills so far, he said.The initiative was launched by Recykal when it came to know that close to 10,000 kg of solid waste is generated at the Himalayan temple everyday during the peak of the Char Dham yatra.Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in a recent edition of his monthly radio address "Mann Ki Baat", expressed concern over littering by pilgrims at Kedarnath.With the help of the district administration, Recykal was able to distribute and ensure the usage of scannable QR stickers to all shops en route the Kedarnath trek. The shop owners pasted these stickers on consumer goods packaged in plastic and collected a nominal deposit fee from the consumer, which was refunded once the discarded plastic was returned to the Deposit Refund Centre."Recykal"s DRS idea is a seed, we need to nourish it in the best possible way so it can manifest itself into larger possibilities," Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Ukhimath Jitendra Verma said."Recykal aims to scale up and implement this system from the Kedarnath trek up to Gaurikund and Sonprayag. We may even extend it to the other Himalayan temples in Uttarakhand like Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri next year," Deshpande said. PTI ALM RC

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