Green initiative takes off in Palwancha town of Telangana

Akshay Gunteti of Green Worms shares details of their waste management plan in small towns and villages

Palwancha in Bhadadri Kothagudam district of Telangana has made a new beginning in waste management. The town’s municipality has signed an MoU with Kerala-based Green Worms for assistance in waste management and procurement of dry waste for waste volume reduction. Founded by Jabir Karat in 2014, Green Worms works in the field of solid waste management — collection, segregation and composting food waste as well as recycling the dry waste. With a focus on women empowerment and creating jobs locally, the team has made steady inroads in these six years, employing around 170 women who manage 60 to 70 tonnes of waste per day in Malappuram, Alappuzha, Kochi and Thrissur in Kerala, Nagercoil and Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and Mysore in Karnataka.

How it started

“The name ‘Green Worms’ is symbolic; millions of micro-organisms eaten by worms help us in sustaining the planet, our firm is like a worm — green in nature and doing good things for the earth,” points out co-founder Akshay Gunteti. It has been a year since he joined the company as head-partnership but his Hyderabad-based NGO Accelerate SD Foundation has been working with Green Worms for the past three years. “They (Green Worms) used to outsource their awareness programmes to my NGO,” he explains.

Two women of a self-help group in Palwancha town gear up to segregate waste
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By special arrangement

At Palwancha, the team works with four women of a local self-help group (SHG), who are getting support and skill expertise. “Since our focus is on coastal and climate vulnerable regions, Palwancha was chosen. Here, 90% of the waste ends up in a landfill. The municipal administration is active in improving waste management, and we could use the vacant space available to set up the infrastructure,” he adds.

The first step was to impart the knowledge of separating dry and wet waste. “When they realised the waste that gets dumped in a dumpyard/landfill has a lot of value, they showed keen interest and began to segregate it. We buy the plastic and paper waste from SHG members and send it to authorised recyclers. Non-recyclable waste is sent for co-processing at authorised cement plants. Usually, the middlemen exploit these informal waste collectors,” says Akshay. SHG members earn ₹350 per day.

Waste segregation

The team works mainly in small towns and villages to implement waste management and green initiatives. Akshay feels this makes their model different from other sustainable models. He says, “In the process of recovering low value waste materials for recycling and co-processing, our recovery rate is 95%; only a small percentage of inert waste and residue are left behind. Hence, waste collectors and segregators (SHG members) earn more from our partnerships, they tend to collect more. In small town and villages where no waste collection or reuse happens, this waste disbursement plan is a necessity, else the rubbish would end in a landfill or ocean. We teach the process so that even when we are not there, they can fetch better prices for their materials and improve the process.”

With their objective focussed on small towns, Green Worms plans to work with 10 municipalities of small towns in Telangana.

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