Andhra youth launch ‘Rice for Plastic’ drive to eradicate single-use plastic while feeding the hungry
Equal measures of rice for plastic collected, this Andhra Pradesh-based youth group is tackling three important issues – plastic, recycling, and malnutrition with a barter system that helps solve all three problems
Two serious problems that ail our country today - nutrition and waste management - were solved with an innovative barter system, thanks to an ingenious idea by an NGO from Peddapuram. A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2015 stated that 194.6 million people in India are undernourished, and around 3,000 people die each day due to starvation and associated illnesses.
India generates 25 lakh tonnes of plastic waste, of which only nine percent is recycled. Both these issues were topmost on the minds of the members of youth group Mana Peddapuram from East Godavari district. With their campaign called “Rice for Plastic” they have inadvertently tackled both malnutrition and plasticide.
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Launched on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the group has already collected 300 kg of plastic, and distributed 200 kg of rice. Added to this, 150 kg plastic was collected in the next two days of the campaign.
The idea conceptualised by Naresh Pedireddi, an MBA in human resource, who wanted to make India plastic-free and fight against hunger.
“We have two major objectives. One is to motivate people to avoid using items made of plastic. The other is our fight against hunger. ‘Rice for plastic’ helps us with both of our objectives,” Naresh told New Indian Express.
Naresh, who is now a cashew nut trader, struck on an idea of giving away equal quantity of rice for the amount of plastic collected. Mana Peddapuram buys wholesale rice directly from mills at a cost of just Rs 25 per kg. It distributes that against plastic (preferably single-use) brought to them. The plastic is then given to sanitation workers who give it to recycling plants owned by the government and private entities located in Peddapuram in Andhra Pradesh.
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Speaking to The Logical Indian, Naresh adds,
“Before October 2, we announced that anyone who brings us plastic items, preferably single-use plastic, will be given an equal quantity of rice.”
Mana Peddapuram has a network of 20,000 members including locals and others who migrated to other Indian states, and overseas.
The group plans to run this campaign once a week as all the members come from middle-class families and are employed during the week. Right now, they are dealing with the challenge of recycling the plastic as the nearest recycling unit owned by the government is in Vijayawada. Naresh has requested the government to start one in Peddapuram.
“We will continue the campaign but will conduct the barter-only on Sundays as we need manpower and most of us have offices to attend to, and businesses to look after,” to New Indian Express.
(Edited by Suruchi Kapur Gomes)
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