Waste segregation needs Sheroes, Chennai shows the way

Women are recognized for their contributions across different sectors on International Women’s Day. It is crucial to acknowledge the significant contribution of women including recognizing unsung sheroes in our society. Among them are women waste management workers who work tirelessly every day to keep our cities clean. Re Sustainability Ltd., a leading provider of environmental management services, celebrated this International Women’s Day by highlighting the story of an all-women conservancy team in Chennai through a special campaign #SheLeadsthechange.

This all-women conservancy and waste management team in Manali zone of Chennai comprises 400 women who serve as sanitation workers, waste collectors, supervisors, waste collection vehicle drivers, composting team members and managers. This team serves 27,000 households in their zone every day. While women waste collectors are a common sight across cities, it is rare to see an entire Municipal Zone where women are in charge across all levels and functions. This is what makes Manali zone special

What’s even more impressive is that the Manali zone all-women team utilizes the most advanced technology to manage municipal solid waste. Thus, on any given day in Manali (Chennai), one can witness women using technically advanced vehicles to scientifically collect segregated waste. By recognizing and celebrating the efforts of this all-women team, Re Sustainability Limited hopes to raise awareness about the crucial role that women play in keeping our cities clean and also inspire others to follow their lead.

After all, segregation has been a losing battle in many cities mainly due to failure in proper collection of segregated waste. The Manali zone all-women team has set an examples for others to adopt and make our cities free from landfills. You can help too by ensuring that you segregate waste at home and convert kitchen waste to compost by using composting kits for home that are easily available online.

The #SheLeadsthechange campaign celebrates two key achievements of the Manali all-women team. What’s more is that these achievements are to their credit within one year of their formation!

Within a year of their formation:

  1. This team has made Manali zone one of the best-performing Municipal Zones in the country and the fastest to achieve a consistent 90% – 96% waste segregation at source.
  2. This team has achieved substantial compliance to an ambitious Zero Waste goal with only 1.5MT of inert waste being diverted to landfills from this Municipal Zone on any given day.

#SheLeadsthechange campaign also brings to light the extraordinary everyday efforts put forth by this team to create public awareness about waste segregation and responsible waste disposal through its Information – Education – Communication (IEC) programmes. The Manali all-women team has developed a bespoke IEC public education model that they are delivering door to door to educate families on the importance of source segregation of waste. From awareness meetings in parks to street plays, various modes of community involvement and engagement have been employed by them to make their Zone a near “zero waste” region.

A local resident of Manali shares her views highlighting the success of this all-women team, “Waste segregation is now a part of our lifestyle. We cannot go back to the old days of non-segregation.” Mr. Masood Mallick, CEO, Re Sustainability shared his insights on this model and initiative, “The all-women team in Manali is setting an example by empowering their communities to take ownership of the waste generated and making a significant contribution to the sustainable development of Chennai. Their efforts are proof that women can be powerful agents of change in building sustainable communities.”

The efforts of the all-women team in Manali demonstrate that women can initiate positive behavioural change in waste disposal habits. These changes often begin with small, incremental steps that gradually build momentum and create a culture of change. This self-sustaining effort by the Manali women’s team is an inspiring example of how women can make a tremendous difference at grassroots level towards Swachh Bharat Mission and a zero waste city model in India.

The achievement of the Manali all-women’s team is a valuable lesson in sustainability for the entire country. It is a remarkable example of how women can bring about meaningful change towards the mission of a cleaner and greener India. The success of the Manali model raises the question – is your city ready to adopt the all-women conservancy model and become a trailblazer for sustainability and gender equity?

Re Sustainability Limited (ReSL) offers a whole gamut of environmental services and infrastructure solutions under various categories such as Waste Management – hazardous, municipal, and biomedical, MAR POL, construction waste & e-waste; Waste to Energy; Recycling – wastewater, paper, plastic, and integrated waste; Environmental Solutions such as remediation, ETPs and wastewater treatment; automated car park management and Facilities Management. ReSL has a growing global footprint, including over 85+ operating locations spread across India, Singapore, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Tanzania and USA.

Trisha Gupta

Trisha Gupta is a sustainability professional with advanced degrees in environmental communication and conservation ecology.

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