Plastic waste is an increasing waste management concern worldwide and more so in India given the quantum. India generates 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day, i.e. 9.4 million tonnes per annum. The increasing quantity of plastic waste is becoming a significant challenge and is a major contributor to environmental degradation. Government policies and programs are in place for stepping up waste management across the country but focus on plastic waste, in particular, needs fine-tuning. Although, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 puts the onus on producers for the treatment and disposal of post-consumer products, efforts at policy implementation needs further aggression. The buy-in of the policy from corporates, especially FMCG companies needs to be increased and comprehensive plastic waste management programs need to be developed.

The Government of India’s Clean India Mission - Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has been giving great momentum to overall waste management in the country. But it needs a strong organized effort and outreach to take the message of “recycle and reuse of the plastic and PET containers” to a nationwide audience. The new Solid Waste Management Rules of 2016 have mandated the door–to-door collection of segregated waste.

Under SBM, the Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya (Clean India Clean Schools) initiative is deploying schools as key hotspots for bringing about generational change in waste management practices by shaping young minds.

Coca Cola’s Support My School-Mission Recycling (SMS-MR) is an effort in the same direction.

Building on the experience of driving awareness of sanitation & hygiene issues across schools in India, Coca-Cola India joined hands with The American India Foundation to partner on its flagship program ‘Support My School Mission Recycling’.

Coca-Cola’s Support My School-Mission Recycling (SMS-MR) project, has been contributing to SBSV and associated polices of the central government under which it is bound with the key objective of “creating awareness amongst the children and teachers of government schools towards recycle and reuse of PET waste and to turn them into ambassadors of change”.

The purpose was to engage and sensitize school children and teachers of government schools across India towards segregation, recycle and reuse of waste including PET. The aim was to bring about a change in the mindset of young change agents of our society and give them a deeper understanding of the huge role that sustainability plays in our future.

Across Phase 1 & Phase 2, the program has worked with 10,223 schools and engaged students further in the process of making effective waste segregation a way of life within their schools and impacted communities.

With a footprint across 19 states and 102 districts in India that includes areas supported by implementing partners of AIF namely SRF Foundation, Plan India and World Vision India and content developers Sahaas Zero Waste, the program was able to reach out to direct beneficiaries covering teachers, school children and community members along with other key stakeholders relevant to the project, translating into a total of 14,67,520 individuals impacted by the program.

SMS-MR also contributes globally to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6, 8, 11 and 13 which deal with wellbeing, clean water, sanitation, economic growth, sustainable cities and communities and climate action respectively.

Impact created

Key Achievements of the program

Detailed stories for the above three:

Block Education Officer becomes Ambassador of SMS MR Program

Mr. Balram Nayak, BEO, Danagadi Block of Jajpur district in the state of Odisha has been an active participant of the MR Project. Since the time of the program’s implementation, he has been associated with planning and extending support. In his role Mr. Balram is responsible for managing 132 Government Schools, of his block of which the Support My School Mission Recycling Program was implemented in just 8 schools.

Having attended the sessions, Mr. Balram was personally much convinced of the relevance and importance of the program and decided to take it forward to a larger number of schools.  As an ambassador for the program Mr. Balram ensured installation of demo units (3 bins) across all the 132 schools of his district as model schools.  He ensured that teachers from the other schools were trained on the content and took further sessions for their respective students in their own schools.  He instituted a block level award for the best school that manages waste in the best manner.  And with his efforts, he has mobilised the government machinery and systems to ensure PET and other waste management to be done appropriately.

His efforts are well appreciated by the community, students and teachers of the schools.  We are proud to have such a passionate ambassador join our campaign.

Water Fountain from PET Waste

Tharun and K. Sagar, both classmates and friends, studying in grade 8 in Government High School SawaranKarimnagar, Telangana were among the many students who attended the MR Program sessions and learnt about PET waste and its management.  As part of the ‘do it yourself’ activities students from the schools were encouraged to create and innovate products that they could, as best out of waste.

A district level competition was organised in which more than 100 products made as ‘best out of waste’ were put on display.

Combining science, technology and MR learnings, both the friends decided to build something that could be entered into the competition.

The judges evaluated and ranked the 100+ displays and models made by several children and announced the Water Fountain made by Tharun and K. Sagar as the winner.  The selection was based on a certain parameter which broadly included

a) ensuring use of PET waste

b) creativity

c) utility and

d) working models.

Both of these friends, now spend their leisure time in helping their friends and peers to learn about PET waste and management as well as building models as best out of waste.  They are now our champions who are taking the program forward to many more students and helping them to understand the importance of recycling and reuse.

Door to Door & Shop to Shop

Mission Recycling Program in Telangana sensitized 18689 students about PET waste and recycling. Through facilitation of sessions using the MR content, activities, the program was able to deliver a good understanding and knowledge about PET waste management to the students.

As the next step the students had the opportunity to work on developing models, participating in competitions and use their own understanding in developing key messages for their peers and community.  This helped them to also come up with a unique model of not just organising public rallies but also use a ‘Door to Door and Shop to Shop’ approach for raising awareness and support for the program.

This approach has further translated into reaching out to 228 shops and 385 households directly in 8 communities to spend time in explaining the do’s and don’ts for better PET waste management.

Sensitized community leaders as a result have issued a notice to the community shopkeepers to reduce the use of plastic bags or use 50 micron plastic bags only in case of requirement. Community members and shopkeepers have appreciated the students work in spreading awareness for reducing the plastic and reusing the waste.

During the rallies students took the ownership to prepare the placards with different types of awareness pictures and quotes related to recycling of plastics. Students also showcased the created art items with the use of plastic waste to the community during the rallies to encourage them for preparing the best useful items from plastic waste for the daily life.

The community has thanked AIF and Coca-Cola to have brought this program to their community which has helped them not just to understand but take steps to ensure cleaner communities and neighborhoods.