Holding businesses accountable for plastic pollution: Clean-up and brand audits take place in key cities in India


By K Ashwin Mobile: 09920183006 Email:indianshowbusiness@gmail.com

As a lead-up to World Environment Day on June 5, environmental justice  groups are launching today an unprecedented coordinated waste  and brand audits in key cities in India.

Happening from May 16 to May 30 in the cities of Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru along with various cities in Goa, Kerala, and 12 Himalayan States, the audits seek to highlight the role of corporations in the global plastic waste crisis, results of which will be published on 4th June.


“Through these audits, we want to put the spotlight on corporations who have been responsible for the manufacturing, distribution, and proliferation of non-recyclable and single-use plastic packaging that ends up in our landfills, oceans and waterways,” Pratibha Sharma, India Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific, said. “The activity aims to gather important data to call for innovations in product packaging and delivery systems to ensure that plastic waste is drastically reduced and that NOTHING ends up in our oceans, landfills, and other disposal facilities,” she added.


India produces a whopping 62 million tonnes of waste every year. A staggering 43 million tonnes of solid waste is collected annually, out of which only 11.9 million or 22-28% is treated, while about 31 million tonnes of waste is left untreated and dumped in landfill sites. The waste and particularly plastic menace for Indian cities is compounded because of the poor state of solid waste management and the inadequate infrastructure for sewerage and stormwater drainage.


India’s Plastics Waste Management Rules 2016 emphasizes the phase-out of non-recyclable multi-layered plastics by March 2018, and requires manufacturers, producers, and users of non-recyclable packaging to either pay municipalities for the cost of managing such waste, or arrange to take it back and manage its disposal themselves. While there have been attempts by local governments to ban plastic bags and single-use plastic in various cities of India, the move has received backlash from the plastic industry.


As a result, the Plastic Waste Management Rules were amended to benefit businesses manufacturing and using plastic especially Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies. The current amendment gives plastic producers a scope to argue that their products can be put to some other use, if not recycled. This move tantamounts to revoking a complete ban which it had implied earlier. This type of plastic was supposed to be banned by March 2018, but it is nowhere near a phase-out.


According to Sharma, corporations have unfairly placed the blame on consumers for the waste problem when it is them who have been putting out and profiting from the problematic products.


Satyarupa Shekhar, Director for Research and Advocacy at Chennai-based Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), co-organizer of the campaign,  said, “the burden of managing poorly designed and manufactured products falls on the city governments and its people and it is about time the businesses are made accountable for their unsustainable business practices.”


June 5 is celebrated annually as World Environment Day as declared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). India is the global host for this year’s celebrations with the theme, Beat Plastic Pollution, chosen “to combat one of the great challenges of our time.”


Through this concerted effort, ten organizations in India, namely CAG in Chennai, Chintan in Delhi, SWaCH in Pune, Stree Mukti Sanghatana in Mumbai, Thanal in various parts of Kerala, V-recycle in Goa, Hasiru Dala and SWMRT in Bengaluru and Zero Waste Himalayas and Integrated Mountain Initiative in 12 Himalayan states, are coming together to question the preparedness and commitment of businesses to beat plastic pollution. These organizations have been working to implement Zero Waste solutions to combat problems around poor solid waste management.


The organizations, together with the Break Free From Plastic, a global movement of over 1,060 groups from across the world, are waging war against plastic pollution to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.


Zero waste practitioners regularly conduct waste audits to monitor the types and volume of waste generated in a particular area. These systematic exercises help decision makers and communities to develop resource management plans which include at-source segregation, comprehensive composting and recycling schemes, residual waste reduction and demand for product redesign. In addition to identifying the most common types of waste, audits can also cover the identification of brands and companies that use disposable, low-value or non-recyclable packaging for their products.  The groups, using a common brand audit tools and methodology, are mobilizing citizen muscle with a common mission so corporations can no longer frame the issue as one of only consumer responsibility.


A brand audit in marketing world examines a brand’s current position in the market compared to its competitors and a review of its effectiveness.  Now is the time to measure its true cost which has been externalized to the environment and public over the years.  Cities are already struggling to fund waste collection systems, and they are still left to address waste that can neither be composted nor recycled.

// ends.


For details, please contact:

Pratibha Sharma

India Coordinator, GAIA Asia Pacific

Phone: +91-8411008973

Email: pratibha@no-burn.org

Organizational Bios


Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. GAIA and its members are global leaders in advancing visionary, win-win solutions to waste and pollution that protect the environment and human wellbeing and build strong, participatory local economies. www.no-burn.org



Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,060 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.



Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) is a non-profit, non-political and professional organisation that works towards protecting citizens’ rights in consumer and environmental issues and promoting good governance processes including transparency, accountability and participatory decision-making. CAG is also the coordinating organization for the brand audit and will provide the brand audit tools, conduct webinar, centralize data, prepare report, and assist in organizing press conference.




Zero Waste Himalaya is a group formed by the active participation of organizations and individuals concerned about the increasing problem of waste management in the Himalaya. The group works for advocating policies and practices for better waste management practices working along zero waste principles. The ZWH Sikkim and Darjeeling, has actively worked with local self-government institutions, community groups, educational institutions, faith based organizations and media in promoting zero waste practices in the transboundary landscape.




Integrated Mountain Initiative is a platform of diverse stakeholders working on issues pertinent to the Indian mountains engaging in debate to inform and influence policy for mountain region such as waste, water, community forestry, disaster risk reduction, and mountain agriculture. IMI is a coalition of individuals and institutions formed in 2011 to redefine the architecture of sustainable development across the 12 mountain states in the Indian Himalayas and Northeast India in which it operates. IMI is the only institution of its kind in India.





Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group works for environmental and social justice in partnership with government, people and groups from diverse sections of society. Chintan works on ensuring equitable and sustainable production and consumption of materials, and improved disposal of waste. An important part of this is ensuring green jobs, security and dignity for the urban poor, many of whom earn a living as waste recyclers. Their initiatives include research, campaigns, policy interventions, building capacity among those engaged in recycling, and creating awareness about the need for reduced consumption and better waste management among the middle and upper classes.




Hasiru Dala (meaning Green Force in Kannada) is an organization of wastepickers. Started in 2011, Hasiru Dala has facilitated enumeration and registration of more than 7,500 waste pickers with Bangalore municipal period in past years. Hasiru Dala strives to integrate the informal waste workers into solid waste management of the city. Hasiru Dala provides necessary training and gear to offer excellent solid waste management services to individual and bulk operators. It has also been authorized by city government to run Dry Waste Collection Centres (Material Recovery Facilities).



SWaCH is India’s first wholly-owned cooperative of self-employed waste collectors and other urban poor. It is an autonomous enterprise that provides front-end waste management services to the citizens of Pune. In the course of 2016, under the new contract with the city government, SWaCH was able to increase its existing coverage by over 50% of the households serviced, by integrating 40% more waste-pickers. That is 600000 Households are Covered Daily, 3025

Waster-Pickers are Integrated and more than 50000 Metric Tons of Waste Recycled. Like every year, in 2016, the work done by SWaCH waste-pickers had an astounding impact on the Environmental and Financial well-being of the city.




Stree Mukti Sanghatana (Women’s Liberation Organization) has directed its efforts towards the upliftment of women since 1975, by creating awareness in the society about women’s issues and the issues related to equality, social justice and development. Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS) works to bring about economic, social, political and cultural changes in the lives of marginalized women & to achieve equal status bestowed on them by the Constitution of India. Through it’s Parisar Vikas programme, SMS also addresses the issue of waste management simultaneously addressing the livelihood concerns of self-employed women engaged in waste picking. SMS started organising and training waste pickers in composting , biomethanation and gardening, forming their SHGs since 1999. SMS has now secretariat of Alliance of Indian Waste pickers.




V-Recycle is a small waste management service company that services about 6000-8000 homes in Goa, one the highly visited tourist destination for beaches. While most of their work involves providing doorstep waste pickup, treatment and disposal services, they employ wastepickers, work with other informal workers such as scrap dealers, closely on providing better waste management practices. Besides providing waste infrastructure like composting units, recycling bins and service plans, they also do outreach, education, consultancy and design projects for NGOs, institutions, schools, etc.




Thanal was started in 1986 as a small group of nature enthusiasts to bring environmental awareness to the people with an aim to raise an environmentally conscious generation by conducting studies on natural history and bringing environmental education to schools and colleges. Their transformation from nature enthusiasts to serious environmental activists was triggered by the rise in pesticide use and pesticide-related illness, increasing deforestation, improper handling of urban waste, and other alarming issues. THANAL is changing the toxic side of farming to a healthy one through their social enterprises—the Organic Bazaar, and the Agro-Ecology Centre. Thanal now run the Zero Waste Centre at Thiruvanantahapuram, a regional hub for training communities on Zero Waste management. They also facilitate some very successful Zero Waste initiatives, the most impactful of this being the Zero Waste Himalayas.



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