NATIONAL

Auroville shows the way to eco-friendly lifestyle

The international township of Auroville is taking the lead in developing an eco-friendly lifestyle, with alternatives to plastics and innovative recycling or upcycling of non-biodegradable material.

Eco Service, a waste management company, has been at the forefront of a campaign against solid waste, specifically plastic and non-recyclable plastic materials, since its launch in 1984.

The venture has opened around 340 collection points across the township from where plastic materials, glasses and other types of solid waste are segregated. Around 10 to 12 tonnes of solid waste and plastic waste are generated during the peak season — and about nine tonnes off-season — from October to March. About 60% of the waste is recycled and the remaining is landfilled.

Few may be aware that waste can be sorted into several categories. Here, it is segregated into 83 types. The Eco Service team first isolates plastic that can be recycled. At the sorting shed, the non-recyclable plastic is shredded into tiny particles. The waste is then mixed with cement concrete and used for construction of experimental walls on the premises.

The segregated plastic, except the multilayer type (packaging materials), is bundled and taken to dealers in Sedurapet and Mettupalayam in nearby Puducherry with a specific demand that they should not incinerate the waste as it would pose a threat to the environment.

“The recyclable waste is sold to recycling dealers for use as raw materials. The multilayer plastic is not landfilled and is only stored on the premises,” says K. Palani, an executive at Eco Service.

Youth roped in

Hoping to spread the message of a zero-waste policy, youth staying in the township have been sensitised to the importance of responsible waste disposal. They now lead by example, collecting waste dumped by tourists and visitors across the township on alternate Sundays.

Eco Service has also built an experimental wall in its sorting shed using thermocol and non-recyclable plastic wrappers.

The wall has been plastered using cement and is decorated with glass bottles of various colours and old solar panels.

“Our primary goal is to minimise as much as possible the impact of Auroville’s waste on the environment,” he said.

It is pointed out that the sustained awareness campaign among the households, guesthouses, communities, restaurants and organisations in Auroville has now resulted in a 40% fall in the use of plastics.

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