Kedarnath attracts over 15,000 visitors per day, 3,000+ ponies with escorts, safai sathis, security and disaster management teams, licensed shops with workers leading to an overall footfall of 35,000+.
The Char Dham Yatra began on May 3rd, 2022 post the COVID regulations and over 8 lakh pilgrims have reportedly visited the shrines to date. Swamped with visitors, Kedarnath was soon piled up with plastic bottles, chips and snack packets, chocolate wrappers etc. Even with a proper plastic disposal facility, most of this packaging has entered the surrounding slopes where it is difficult to collect at the terrain.
The waste generation per day has doubled from 5000 kg in 2019 to 10000 kg in 2022 in Kedarnath. (Source)
Authorities are left astounded over the magnitude of pollution and predict that this can cause natural disasters like erosion and landslides. While this is happening, here’s how India’s first waste commerce company, Recykal in collaboration with the Zila Prashasan of Kedarnath is tackling this problem.
What is the Deposit Refund System?
Deposit Refund System or DRS is a simple incentive system that encourages consumers to bring back their waste (plastic packaging or e-waste) for a refundable deposit, collected at the time of purchase.
Recykal’s Deposit Refund System (‘DRS’) has been designed to solve the existing challenges of ineffective collection and channelization of waste in Kedarnath. By placing a value on the waste, we’re enabling efficient increased material recovery and better quality for recycling.
Here’s how Recykal’s DRS scheme works in Kedarnath –
- Recykal generates and prints unique QR stickers worth Rs. 10 for all products which are pasted on every item sold along the Kedarnath route.
- Once the product is consumed by the visitors, they need to deposit the containers at one of the 8 Collection points setup along the path and receive a refund of ₹10 deposit per item.
Fig 1.0 – An overview of Recykal’s DRS system
So, what happens if the visitor does not return the package and throws it away?
- While visitors lose their deposit, waste collectors or safaai saathis who collect the waste and bring it to the deposit center are rewarded with the amount.
The waste collected at each collection point is moved to a central segregation and baling hub at Sonprayag, owned and managed by Recykal. The data will be provided to the District Administration in real time on material collected, deposits collected and refunded.
What do the pilgrims need to do?
Pilgrims on the way to Kedarnath Trek are charged an extra ₹10 on MRP of water bottles and drinks. Once consumed, the empty plastic containers need to be deposited at collection centers across the path namely:
- Gupta Kashi market
- Gupta Kashi GMVN entrance
- Phata Market
- Rampur market
- Sitapur Market
- Sonprayag Parking
- Sonprayag Near hotel shivalik
- Sonprayag market, Near medical health center
- Gaurikund police chowki
- Gaurikund Ghoda padav gate
- Kedarnath good dropping point
- Kedarnath , Near temple.
Once deposited at one of these centers, ₹10/bottle is refunded to the customer.
As the images of Kedarnath littered with waste went viral, netizens slammed people and the government for not taking the issue seriously. But when a proper waste management system is set up in place, what are we doing? Don’t we want a cleaner tomorrow? Let’s rethink and redefine our perspective of waste. Let’s get together to build a Swachch Kedarnath.