Sabka Sath Swachh Kedarnath through Deposit Refund System

Sabka Sath Swachh Kedarnath through Deposit Refund System
| 6 Min read

Date: 3rd June 2022

Project Status – DRS Kedarnath

To tackle the increasing problem of plastic waste in Kedarnath, Tehsil Ukhimath had reached out to various agencies for innovative and disruptive solutions. Recykal proposed one of its kind Deposit Refund System Project to SDM, Ukhimath dt. 3rd May 2022 under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The project was proposed keeping in mind ever increasing footfall at Kedarnath and the littering issues caused by the pilgrims along the trek and Kedarnath town.

Keeping the sanctity and aesthetics of Kedarnath ji intact has been the motto of this project from its very conceptualisation. The project is first of its kind in the country and is gaining recognition amongst the pilgrims visiting Kedarnath.

How are the collective efforts of district administration and technology partner – Recykal is helping in addressing in a systematic way

The Deposit Refund System that has been adopted was adopted in the following steps:

  1. Vendor purchases QR code from Recykal points and sticks it on the Water / Cold Drink / Beverage bottles being sold at the shops. Stickers can also be placed at all the plastic packaged items
  • Citizens pay Rs.10/- extra for each bottle as ‘Green Deposit’
  • After consuming water / cold drink / beverage, Citizens now return the empty bottle at the Deposit Refund Centre and gets back Rs.10/- (Green deposit).

A pictorial representation of the DRS scheme implemented in Kedarnath is shown below:

Participants and their roles

DRS Operator: Recykal

Recykal is a Circular Economy Driven Marketplace. It connects all waste management stakeholders like recyclers, waste collectors, brands, ULBs on one platform. Recykal’s digital innovations like deposit refund system has earned recognition as technology pioneers by the world economic forum.

Digital technology

Recykal has developed digital technology for unique QR code creation, distribution and recollection.

IEC, awareness and onboarding shops.

They deployed a team of 15 members near Kedarnath Temple & Town. This team conducted IEC activities to educate shopkeepers on the DRS, distributed the QR codes for bottles in each shop.

Plastic bottle collection/Deposit Refund Centers

Initially 3 collections were established to refund the citizen or any other person who returns the bottle. This will now be scaled to 4 centres at the top and subsequently more centres at Gaurikund and Sonprayag.

Administration: Tehsil Ukhimath


Tehsil Ukhimath issued a notification to call shopkeepers mandating sale of bottles with QR code only. This was a necessity to ensure every bottle is covered under deposit refund system and citizen have an incentive to return the bottle instead of littering it

Space Allocation

The DRS operator was provided space to set up deposit refund centers and plastic collection centers by the Tehsil.


Tehsil Ukhimath conducted regular checks to ensure shopkeepers are selling QR placed bottles only. The non compliant shopkeepers were fined. These checks

ensure no malpractices in the implementation of deposit refund system.

Phase 1 :

✔ With great support from SDM Ukhimath, we have been able to distribute QR Code to all the 65 shops at Kedarnath without a hassle.

✔ We have been able to set up 3 collection centers known as “Deposit Refund Centre” successfully and have witnessed consumers getting motivated to not litter, walking in at our collection centers appreciating the effort of the Government and Recykal.

✔ Along with the support of the government we have been able to conduct an aggressive IEC and ensured that the pilgrims and shopkeepers become more sensitive to the issue of waste management and thus make a commitment to keep the environment clean and green.

✔ The scheme has been able to generate additional source of livelihood for Pittuwalas and Sulabh employees who have been able to bring back QR Code labelled bottles and obtain a refund in return.

✔ The government intervened to non-cooperative shopkeepers and ensured placement of QR Codes across all shops, thereby helping the field team in enforcing this scheme in the Kedarnath area successfully.

✔ With increasing participation by citizens and local Pittu wala, the bottle collection percentage increased from close to 0% to 54%. These bottles otherwise would have landed in the Mandakini River and other rivers flowing through these Himalayan ranges and polluting potable drinking water.

✔ The collection activity carried by various stakeholders have been detailed below. We can observe that the citizens, Pittuwalas, shopkeepers and locals helped to jointly collect.

Way Forward

Presently, the scheme has been implemented in 65 shops in Kedarnath Town. In the long run we are certain that we can scale up and implement this system along the trek all the way up to Gaurikund and then to Sonprayag in a phased manner.

Further, it is submitted that DRS is being implemented only on the Plastic bottles, in future we would like to also track and trace all kinds of plastic packaging such as Multi-Layered Plastics (MLP) / Single Use Plastic (SUP).

We plan to conduct campaigns, by placing banners and public addressing at various occasions and ensuring better implementation of this scheme in days to come. We are certain we would be able to achieve 100% success, as we work harder and longer on this scheme.

[contact-form-7 id=”12122″ title=”Contact form DRS”]

Phase 2 

✔ With the support of the District Administration of Rudraprayag, Recykal was able to distribute QR codes to 673 business establishments from Guptkashi to the temple of Kedarnath. 

✔ The number of Deposit Refund Centres also increased from 4 in Phase 1, to 12 deposit refund centres for Phase 2. The team on-ground witnessed many locals & tourists responsibly disposing of their plastic bottles & being motivated to prevent littering in the region. 

✔ Along with the support of the government Recykal was also able to conduct aggressive IEC campaigns with the local Trade Unions, Taxi Association Guptkashi, Hotel Associations of Guptkashi, Phata, Sitapur, Sonprayag, Gaurikund, as well as pithuwalas and ghodiwalas to ensure pilgrims and shopkeepers become more sensitive to the issue of waste management, thus making a commitment to keep their environment clean & green. 

✔ The scheme continues to generate an additional source of livelihood for Pittuwalas, Ghodiwalas, and sanitation workers who have responsibly gathered & returned QR-code labelled bottles and obtained the deposit in return.

✔ The District of Rudraprayag intervened to ensure the usage of QR Codes by mandating a local law, stating the region from Guptkashi to Kedarnath as a ‘Plastic Regulated Zone’; thereby helping the field team in enforcing this scheme successfully. 

✔ Due to a heavy influx of tourists during season time, the increased participation by citizens, locals & authorities continues to increase the collection percentages of plastic bottles. These bottles would otherwise have landed in trenches around the region or flowed into the rivers of the Himalayan region; thereby polluting drinking water. 

✔ With the joint effort of the district administration, tourists & locals, Phase 2 (dt. August 15, 2022 – present) enabled the recovery of 8644 plastic bottles as of September 19, 2022. This means, ₹86,440 in total was refunded to the public. The sustainability impact of Phase 2 is as depicted below: 

✔ So far, the sustainability impact of digital DRS implemented from Guptkashi to Kedarnath is as follows:

Feedback from all participants

Feedback from Pittuwala

१० बोतल देने से म १०० Vपये कमा लेता हूँ, मुझे एक व त का खाना मु त म fमल जाता है और साफ़ सफाई भी रहती है इसक मुझे ख़ुशी है


Feedback from Customer:

This scheme is really good because while I was coming from 14 kms I noticed a lot of plastic bottles and plastic wrappers. Plastic wrappers are really slippery so they’re very dangerous, so this idea of collecting plastic bottles is really good, so people will just come and give plastic bottles and they get 10rs, this is a really good idea. If this system can be mandated with all shopkeepers it will give huge impact Saloni Mishra

Comments from DRS Operator: Recykal

“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.”-Abhay Deshpande – Founder, Recykal

Comments from District Administration: Tehsil Ukhimath

“Recyckal’s DRS idea is a seed, we need to nourish it in the best possible way, so that it can manifest itself into larger possibilities.” – Jitender Verma – SDM, Ukhimath.


Photo Gallery

For more detail contact us at marketing@recykal.com or 7799996255

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