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Feature | May 28, 2019

How we are helping tackle plastic pollution on the streets of Mumbai

An idea from one of TechnipFMC’s employees is helping to change attitudes to plastic pollution and recycling in India.

Today, two recycling machines for PET bottles stand in the street in two of Mumbai’s busiest areas. Passers by can pop in a PET bottle and get a voucher in return – perhaps a Metro ticket, perhaps a cinema ticket, but something of value for their garbage.

The alternative is to drop their bottle to join the trash littering the gutters of this city of more than 18 million people.

Those recycling machines – each able to turn 5000 bottles a day into pellets that will soon become other drinks bottles – are sponsored by TechnipFMC in partnership with the Round Table. The idea for the link-up came from Aman Tandon, Deputy Manager, Sales and Marketing in Mumbai. 

Aman said: “Every bit of plastic ever made still exists – somewhere! Let’s take control and do our bit to ensure these plastics do not end up in the oceans, forests or consumed by other life forms. It is a very small step to recycle this waste and save our surroundings.” 

He submitted his idea to the Seed of Hope, an annual Community Support initiative contest run by company’s India Operating Centre. The contest provides funds for winning corporate social responsibility programs proposed by employees. For the second year running, Aman’s idea was one of those selected.

Aman said: “I proposed a CSR project in 2017  to help the physically challenged. When it concerns CSR, a lot of times we tend to focus on healthcare, education, skill development, etc. In 2018, I wanted to do something relating to the environment, climate change or reducing the carbon footprint.

“I discussed this with a colleague from the CSR team and we brainstormed on the issue. Finally tackling the issue of single-use plastics was on the table – in line with TechnipFMCs drive to reduce single-use plastics within the offices.

“I feel proud that TechnipFMC has taken up my initiative for the second year in a row and in whatever small way, I am contributing to the betterment of society at large.” 

Swayantani Ghosh is in charge of the Seed of Hope Community Support program, which was a winner in the company’s Driving Change Awards for sustainability actions in 2018. Swayantani, Associate Vice President India Communications and Sustainability said waste management is a huge issue in Mumbai and across all of India and attitude of people towards waste disposal has to change.

The simple incentive of the vouchers issued by the recycling machine could encourage a  person to pop their used bottle or can into the recycler instead of dropping it in the dusty street. The campaign aims to change the throw-away culture.

Swayantani said: “In alignment with our India community support program, Seed of Hope, we are committed to establish working models of circularity, in particular plastic waste. Installation of plastic recycling units in Mumbai city is our first on-ground effort towards the recycling of single-use plastic and thereby, reducing landfills and carbon footprint.”

The machines, one in Dadar and one in Worli, are part of the ‘Swachh Bharat” (Clean India) initiative to make India greener. 

Across the country, home to 1.3 billion people, it is estimated almost 20,000 tonnes of hazardous waste is generated every day, much of it is plastic which can take hundreds of years to break down. 

With monitored daily collections from the machines, Swayantani will be able to gauge their success within six months. And if they are working, the sponsorship scheme could see similar “reverse vending” machines spring up in the five other Indian cities where TechnipFMC operates in India.