February 24, 2022: Under the project, “Waste Wise Cities: Tackling Plastic Waste in the Environment” funded by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), the UN-Habitat India office conducted an online workshop on February 24, 2022 on Action Plan for Solid Waste Management in Thiruvananthapuram based on the application of the Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT).
WaCT is developed by UN-Habitat, based on SDG indicator 11.6.1 parameters, to support cities and countries in undertaking a comprehensive diagnostic of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to aid scientific and evidence-based development of circular projects and investments
In November 2021, the UN-Habitat India team conducted a detailed ground assessment study to understand the existing waste management scenario in Thiruvananthapuram through the application of WaCT with support from Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation (TMC), and local NGO, Sahridhaya. A sample size of 90 households (HHs) from high-, middle- and low-income groups participated in this study. The activities included the distribution of collection bags (2 bags each for wet and dry waste) to HHs and commercial units (CU), collection of segregated bags from HHs and CUs for eight days for detailed characterization, interviews of CU's and resource recovery centers, disposal facility assessment and characterization, mapping of the formal and informal resource value chain and estimating plastic leakages in the city.
The workshop was attended by 40 stakeholders which included officials of the Health Department representing TMC, Govt. agencies and parastatals responsible for and supporting SWM activities of the State of Kerala, technocrats, urban planners, institutions, recycler’s, local NGO’s, service providers and informal sector representatives.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Parul Agarwala, Country Programme Manager, UN-Habitat India mentioned the UN-Habitat’s mandate for SDG 11 which aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable intention to continue to work with local governments and keep its relevance by action on the ground. One of the core focuses is waste management and how the waste sector can contribute to meeting not only the environmental goals of keeping corporations clean and healthy but also improving the livelihood of communities. She also highlighted the potential impact and programs that can be developed based on the results of the Waste Wise Cities Tool.
The session was followed by a special address by Mr. Binu Francis, Secretary, Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation (TMC) who discussed Thiruvananthapuram’s plan to transition to a sustainable and circular waste management system. He highlighted a few of the current challenges that TMC is facing and stated that the waste characterization and results from the WaCT assessment will help TMC develop a strategic plan to implement a circular solid waste management system.
Ms. Swati Singh Sambyal, Waste Management Specialist, UN-Habitat India Country Office, lead the session and shared the ground assessment results with the group – 'Thiruvananthapuram city generates 423 tonnes per day (TPD) of municipal solid waste, of which 267 TPD is brought to resource recovery facilities and results in a 57% recovery rate for the city through formal and informal facilities. An extensive recovery mapping exercise was conducted where, a total of 72 facilities were surveyed, from both the formal and informal value chain, allowing for a better understanding of the waste flow channelization. As a zero-landfill city, a detailed resource recovery survey was conducted to assure that waste leakage was taken into consideration, and it is estimated that 90% of the resource recovery facilities in the city are included in this study. Additionally, there is a large portion of the waste stream, 128 TPD, that is uncollected or unmanaged which contributes to leakages contaminating land and water resources.
Based on the assessment results, four priority areas of intervention were identified for action − Awareness and capacity building with a focus on waste minimization, segregated collection, and circular systems; Strengthening resource recovery by enhancing up-cycling interventions and bringing efficiency and coordination in MRF/RRF operations; Improvement of management of uncollected waste and disposal of residual waste from MRFs/RRFs to control leakages inland and marine environment; Circular financing in SWM projects. After sharing the results, the stakeholders were divided into four breakout sessions for discussion on these four areas of intervention.
The four breakout sessions discussed problems in the group-specific themes and on solutions and ideas that could be translated as activities in the City Action Plan of Thiruvananthapuram.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Sambyal added that the major takeaway points from the breakout sessions will be incorporated into a concrete action plan that will be shared with TMC by UN-Habitat India. In the coming months, the UN-Habitat India team will engage with stakeholders in preparing investment-ready proposals on resource recovery interventions and will continue to work with TMC to ensure the city reinvents its existing waste management systems to a more resource-efficient one.
Recording of this online event including Breakout Room discussions, have been uploaded on our YouTube Channel and can be accessed at: https://youtu.be/lN07R3T3Wg0