Gangtok, 03 Apr: The Integrated Mountain Initiative and Zero Waste Himalaya, which had collaborated to undertake the much-appreciated The Himalayan Cleanup in 2018, have resolved to continue and upscale their awareness programme on waste in the mountains and have proposed the Himalayan Cleanup for a funding grant by the European Conservation Outdoor Association (EOCA).
The Himalayan Cleanup 2020, it is informed, has cleared the rigorous EOCA selection criteria overseen by its scientific advisors and has been shortlisted for a grant under the mountain category.
This is the only project shortlisted from India and is now among 14 conservation projects in 16 countries and has entered the final voting round under the mountain category where all shortlisted projects are given two weeks to gather as many online votes as possible in order to secure the grant.
The voting window opened on 28 March and closes on 11 April.
IMI and ZWH, it may be recalled, organised the Himalayan Cleanup in 2018 as a pan-Himalayan initiative taken to raise awareness about waste in the Indian Himalayan Region.
Accordingly, on 26 May 2018, an unprecedented 200 organisations and more than 15,000 volunteers gathered to conduct cleanups in various areas within the 12 mountain states.
THC was also conducted in coordination with a brand audit by Global Alliance Against Incinerators to highlight the pervasiveness of plastics and to ascertain responsibility for the proliferation of problematic plastic packaging in the environment.
The trash collected was sorted, segregated and analysed.
The final waste audit report revealed that more than 97 per cent of the trash collected was plastic of which more than 60 per cent comprised of multilayered plastic waste. Single use plastics (cups, plates, spoons,forks, bags) constituted 18% while PET Bottles (packaged water and soft drinks) collected during the cleanup accounted for 9.10% of the plastic trash. Other plastic items, 5.09% and Tetrapak, 3.32% (juices and milk) made up the rest of the plastic trash.
The waste audit showed that there has been a dramatic increase in plastic waste in the mountains and that there was no place free of plastic waste.
The brand audit revealed that the top polluting brands were the multinationals Pepsi Co, Hindustan Coca Cola, Britannia Industries, Hindustanl Unilever Ltd.,Nestle, Perfetti Van Malle, Bisleri International, CG Foods India Pvt Ltd. (Waiwai) etc followed by ITC Ltd, GCMMF (Amul), Dabur India Ltd. and other Indian Brands.
The plastic waste problem is compounded by the fact that the mountains do not have adequate systems of waste management.
IMI and Zero Waste Himalaya have appealed to everyone to support them by firstly voting and also to take forward voting campaigns in their own circles.