Madukkarai Panchayat in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu, is the cleanest place in India, owing to around 50 women who wake up every day to collect waste from each and every household in the town.
At 6 AM, the women set out to work with their green jackets on, hands covered in gloves and caps adjusted perfectly on their heads. Every morning they line up for the roll call. These ‘Green Friends’ are part of the solid waste management program supported by ACC Cement – Madukkarai.
While most of us find someone to put the blame on, Madukkarai decided to take control in their own hands. The town has 8,000 households and a population of 42,000. 82% of the homes hand over garbage to ‘Green Friends’ every day. 1,440 tonnes of garbage is collected annually from the town of 18 wards and 107 streets.
‘Green Friends’ collect household wastes in eight different bins for wet waste, kitchen waste, plastic waste, etc. This is then disposed in large bins kept in several parts of the town. Trucks pick up this waste daily and take it to the resource recovery park where the garbage is recycled.
The treatment center segregates the different types of wastes. The kitchen waste is converted into fertilizers and given to farmers at extremely low prices to use in cultivation of their crops. The plastic waste is processed to be used in the construction of roads, and also at the large ACC factory where it is used as fuel at high temperatures which does not even cause pollution.
Due to the efforts of ‘Green Friends’, the citizens of Madukkarai, and the municipality, there has been a 60% reduction in landfill waste over the span of three years. There has also been a 50% reduction in the vehicle movement to the landfill sites, 85% of organic waste is converted successfully into vermin compost, ample reduction in the use of fossil fuels, reduction in greenhouse gas emission to 60%, and substantial decrease in the spread of malaria and dengue among the people. Furthermore, barren lands provided for compost yard have been successfully converted into fully functional organic compost yard and non-recyclable waste is used as an alternative energy source for the cement industry.
This has put Madukkarai in Guinness Book of World Records for the largest recycling lesson in the world.