Is Micro-Waste Management the New Micro-Credit?
While citizens across America will "step-it-up" to urge Congress to take action on global warming, citizens of the Pammal municipality are celebrating the success of another type of waste initiative. Vermi-composting, or composting using worms, is the heartbeat of the "Zero Solid Waste Management Plan", allowing kitchen wastes collected by tricycle to be returned to local gardeners and farmers as fertilizer. Waste reduction also plays a part, as does identifying markets for the glass, plastic and other recyclables separated from the community wastes.
M.B. Nirmal, founder of Exnora International, seems to be the force behind the initiative, which is now replicated successfully in several municipalities. The project also relies on Exnora Green Pammal, a voluntary organisation lead by Mangalam Balasubramaniam; Sri Sankara Magalir Mandram, a women's self-help group; and the financial support of a multi-national corporation. The "Zero Solid Waste Management Plan" serves a community of 68,000 with a floating population of 7,500 and collects waste across a 13.6 sq. km area. Tricycles and pushcarts for waste collection as well as the infrastructure of the separation and composting facility were supported by Rs.15 lakhs donated by soft drink giant Pepsico. Sustained employment of the urban poor is a parallel benefit of the Pammal Compost project. Currently, 100 street beautifiers and 150 women from local self help groups are employed.