The carrot-and-stick approach adopted by the Tiruchi Corporation has made a big difference in bringing about a behavioural change among residents of the city towards segregating waste at source, thereby enabling the civic body to market recyclable plastics to traders and merchants once a week.
While it rewards residents who segregate and hand over degradable and non-degradable waste, the civic body also levies spot fines on violators.
The Corporation has made segregation of solid waste at source mandatory since June 5, 2017 and introduced a prize scheme with gold coins for residents who adhere to the new system. Residents were asked to send pictures of themselves handing over segregated waste to a specified WhatsApp number every Wednesday. The winner was selected through a draw of lots and given a gold coin.
As expected, the scheme motivated many residents to take part, thereby gradually increasing the volume of plastic waste collected.
After running the scheme for a year, the Corporation introduced another scheme, this time offering electric kettles. Under the scheme, which is still running, four residents are given a prize every week.
Roping in students
The Corporation also reached out to students with a ‘Students @ Clean City’ campaign to reward schoolchildren who persuade their parents to segregate household waste before handing it over to civic sanitary workers or do it themselves, with bicycles and other gifts.
While the biodegradable waste is converted into organic manure, the plastic waste, after being compressed into bundles, is sold to traders and merchants for recycling. Inert waste is sent to cement factories in Ariyalur for use as fuel in kilns.
Corporation officials make it a point to clear non-degradable waste a week. In order to keep its workers motivated, the civic body shares the revenue generated through the sale of recyclable waste.
Ever since the prize scheme was introduced in June 2017, the Corporation has collected 13,975 metric tonnes of non-degradable waste from households and commercial establishments. It has generated revenue to the tune of ₹2.60 crore and the sum has been disbursed to sanitary workers.
“Awareness on waste segregation has increased manifold since the introduction of the prize scheme. It works exceedingly well. If residents segregate the waste at home, it will ease the work of sanitary workers. They also work meticulously as they get weekly incentives for collecting non-degradable waste,” said N. Ravichandran, Corporation Commissioner.
He said that the civic body had levied penalties to the tune of ₹5 lakh on about 2,000 violators. “We give equal importance to rewarding law-abiding citizens and penalising violators. We have managed to bring about a behavioural change on waste segregation among 40% to 50% of residents. We are on the right track,” he added.