|Posted by AOE on September 3, 2019 at 7:25 AM|
A Workshop to Launch a Campaign on Combating Plastic Pollution
Workshop Report by Daphne Furtado
Organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment in collaboration with the Commission for Ecology of the Western Region Bishops' Council on 31st August 2019 (on the eve of the anniversary of the annual “Season of Creation - September 1st to October 4th) at Sarvodaya, St Pius College Campus, Goregaon East, Mumbai, this workshop had around seventy participants.
The experts at the workshop were Mr. D.M. Shrotriya: President, WTERT (Waste to Energy Research and Technology) India, Dr Arun Sawant WTERT (Waste to Energy Research and Technology) India. The one day workshop activities comprised of input sessions on Major issues around Production, Consumption, Recycling of plastic, National and State Regulations policies and commitment of Government, success stories sharing by the participants and workshop discussions on possible line of action by the civil society & corporate sector to curb the plastic pollution.
The workshop started with Fr. Joseph Gonsalves, Head AOE, welcoming the participants and leading through the opening prayers of His Holiness Pope Francis, “Prayer for the Earth” and outlined the three objectives of the workshop: “To Create Awareness”, “Initiate Concrete Action” and “Plan Future Orientations”. The words of Holy Father, namely: “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us” were a good start for the day. The Program introduction was given by Ms. Deepika Singh, Secretary AOE, after which we plunged directly into two well-prepared Power Point presentations by Mr D M Shrotriya: on the above given topics.
In essence, the first PowerPoint dealt with historical aspects, dating back to 1950, when the advantages of plastic over jute/textile/paper/carrier bags, in terms of eight/transportation/cost, showcased plastics as a boon; slowly this deteriorated as issues of toxicity, health, waste, degradability, single-use / multi-layer plastics (SUP/MLP) and disposal, especially in Corporate Housing Societies (CHS), became a cause for concern. The second PowerPoint focused on Plastic Waste Management Rules of (2011) and the two Amendments of (2016) and (2018), which became more stringent over time, leading to almost a total ban by 2019.
Request for Advice and Solutions: Mr. Shrotriya agreed that both the BMC and CHS must be accountable. Time-bound Area Waste Contracts for a 5-year period could help; segregation at source, a ban on thin plastic, re-utilizing the rest. He also agreed the Plastic narrative has changed. Collecting plastic waste for recycling provides employment for rag-pickers, while also exposing them to health risks. Where regulations are not followed, civil society must approach the Municipal (or Assistant) Commissioner during their scheduled meeting times. This has to be taken up in all wards on a war footing.
Sharing of success stories by seven participants: Ranging from simple “Mindfulness Themes” to building awareness, or “River Marches” to clean a river by teams of school children, through more organized “collecting & re-cycling of plastic bags” by youth in the Satara district, to sophisticated “networking” to send 8000 Tetrapacks to Sahakhari Bhandhar, for transformation into wood, and gifting boats of recycled plastic (a Hindustan Lever project) to fisherfolk in Mahim, or “personal research on alternatives to plastic” - each story was unique and inspiring.
Finally, Mr. K. Mohan Pillai, Sr. Manager CSR, (Bisleri Intl. PVT LTD) introduced us to the Bisleri “Bottles for Change” re-cycling project at Pune. He referred to their downloadable app, and website: www.bottlesforchange.in, and contended that a mindset change is needed to treat plastic as a resource, rather than waste. Presently only 6% is recycled.
Participants were deeply concerned about the huge plastic waste, were not comfortable with recycling as a goal for a sustainable environment. Some proposed the only way forward, is: BAN rather than RE-CYCLE. The Vote of Thanks to our two guest speakers was proposed by Mr. Victor D’Mello.
Most Rev. Bishop Allwyn D’Silva (Bishop in charge of the AOE) reflecting on an Interreligious approach to ecology, introduced the session with a reflection - Does the Economy affect Ecology or vice versa? The Earth belongs to all: Is there a Hindu Water, Muslim Air, Christian …? Earth is a common home, common heritage, and all the religions are to commit to care for it and preserve it for the future generations to come.
For the workshop session the participants were divided into 8 teams led by a team leaders, the team leaders were sort of experts from among the participants who led their respective groups for the with the group discussion. The theme for group work was to develop possible line of action:
2) sharing of success stories
The 8 groups presented their well-designed “Plans of Action” following which Bishop Allwyn announced that a core group from among the participants could be informally formed into an action-oriented team. Those who interested in committing to work on environment are welcomed to be the “AOE Ambassadors” who will be commissioned by His Eminence, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, in January 2020. The workshop was concluded by citing a pledge composed by one of the groups. It was a day of valuable learning and fresh resolutions. Because of the great demand, a second workshop will be conducted in the near future… worth attending!