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Watch: How A Revolutionary Young Engineer Is Making Goa Garbage-Free

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In the Goan state budget announced on March 24, the government of Goa has promised to invest nearly ₹2,000 crore on waste management. But a young man shows how, in the long run, getting the community on board is more sustainable that investing in expensive technology.

Clinton Vaz is a soft spoken, young civil engineer from Goa. Looking at this unassuming man it is hard to imagine that he is at the helm of a revolutionary initiative for a garbage free Goa. “When I moved from the city [Margao] to the village, I realised that waste disposal was a big problem here. I thought if I can manage my own waste, I can help other people do the same. I devised my own system. That was 10-15 years back,” he says.

Vaz is the founder of vRecycle, a small firm based in South Goa that provides households with landfill waste management solutions. He feels that the government’s promise for a zero-waste Goa by 2020 should be taken with a pinch of salt.

A small coastal state with just under 2 million people, Goa sees massive tourist footfall every year. Just in 2016, over 6 million tourists came to visit. A short drive around some of the most popular beaches in North Goa reveals heaps of garbage strewn among the coconut groves and lush greenery. The tourism industry adds to the problem by generating huge amounts of waste.

Composite figures on the total waste generated by the state are not easy to come by, although estimates from 2013 put it at around 400 tonnes per day. There have been sustained campaigns by citizens across the state that led to more composting and waste segregation units. In March 2017 the newly elected Chief Minister of Goa promised more investment in the waste management infrastructure to make Goa ‘garbage-free’ by 2020.

Vaz is in no small part responsible for this change. Back in 2003, working with the local municipality, he singlehandedly documented the waste woes of the capital, Panjim. Around the same time, he started the online group Green Goa which is today a resource for all sorts of citizen-led sustainable initiatives in Goa. Today vRecycle manages the waste of over 10,000 households in South Goa and have collection points in over 18 sites spanning panchayats and housing societies.

vRecycle collects household waste segregated into wet (organic) and dry (inorganic). A small organisation of only 20 employees, they collect and sort 3-4 tonnes of waste per day. Of this about half is organic waste that is composted yielding natural soil fertiliser. This goes back to the households for use in their gardens. The dry waste is sorted into twenty different categories. Most of this is recycled. Only 1% of the waste which is completely non-disposable or recyclable, mostly soiled diapers and menstrual hygiene products, is left over after the entire process. vRecycle currently stores this in their warehouse as even the municipal authorities have no solution to deal with this. Most of the employees are migrants who were informal waste pickers. They are all provided with safety gear when collecting and sorting the waste.

The government has repeatedly stated lack of co-operation in segregating waste as a major hurdle to effective waste management. It is continuing to invest in technology-heavy solutions which need huge investments. The first waste treatment facility in the state in the village of Saligao in North Goa became operational less than a year back. CM Parrikar has announced three more waste treatment plants in the latest budget. The existing waste treatment plant costs Rs ₹10,00,000 per day. And yet, a lot of North Goa’s garbage problem remains unsolved.  Vaz has succeeded in persuading over 10,000 households to segregate the garbage. If he can do it, why cannot the government also do it?

“The Saligao plant has the capacity to handle half of Goa’s waste. So definitely three new plants at huge costs are not necessary. In fact, the existing plant is not as effective as it should be because they are taking in non-segregated waste. The rules of solid waste management were amended in 2016 to specifically state that non-segregated waste should not be picked up. This is because most of such waste can’t be recycled and ends up in the landfill. Essentially, the government is violating its own rules. We have seen 80% of the communities are willing to work with us in segregating waste. Unnecessary technological investment just goes to justify inflated costs of such projects. Many municipalities and panchayats who invested in such expensive machinery, like baling machines, are not using them at all. Even the expensive mechanised sweeping machines in Panjim and Vasco are just gathering dust. We have had promises and deadlines from successive governments over the years but nothing has changed. The continued investment in technology, without looking at the actual needs on the ground,  just shows a lack of real commitment to solving the issue,” says Vaz.

His model demonstrates how achievable the dream of a zero-waste Goa is, without investing billions of rupees in unnecessary technology. And in fact, such investment leaves the door open for massive corruption. When will the government start listening to the people that elected it?

You can contact vRecycle at and +91 9890936828

The video is produced by Video Volunteers with the support of Vikalp Sangam.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

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Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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Read more about the campaign here.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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