The Himalayan Cleanup which was carried across the 12 mountain States of India on May 26 saw maximum participation from Sikkim.
Almost 80 cleanup events had been registered throughout the State with participation from schools, organizations and block administrative centres, with the objective being not only of cleaning up an area, but also to understand the waste types as well as the main polluting brands.
Working under the theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ for World Environment Day, the cleanup was aimed to understand and reflect on individual lifestyle choices as well as to advocate for pinning the responsibility of waste on companies that were generating the plastic waste through extended producer responsibility.
This was stated in a press release.
The release further added that in a state like Sikkim, the remote locations of villages adds to the multiple challenges of managing plastic waste mainly that of multilayered plastics, that have no solution.
The findings of the waste audit for Sikkim that reflected audit data from 30 sites from all districts was presented by Priyadarshinee Shrestha of WWF-India who is also member of Zero Waste Himalaya.
It was mentioned that for Sikkim, the top five items in the trash were multilayered plastics, pet bottles, paper, cardboard, single use plastic items and other plastic items.
Multilayered plastics alone constituted 68 per cent of the total trash collected in the cleanup sites, which brought to light the amount of plastic that is lying in the environment.
Pet bottles, mainly that of water bottles, were also found in large numbers during the cleanup.
Single use items such as plastic spoons and straws, and other plastic utensils were also retrieved in considerable numbers across the cleanup sites.
The last session of the event focused on way forward to beat plastic pollution in Sikkim and the participants discussed on mechanisms to strengthen extended producer responsibility with companies that were putting the most plastics in the environment, and supporting local entrepreneurs on developing alternatives to single use plastic items.
A suggestion for each BAC to adopt their own bye laws for reducing plastic waste in their areas was also made, which could then be multiplied throughout the State.
GMC commissioner Tsewang Gyachho mentioned that for popularizing alternatives to single use plastic items in a large scale, the hotel and restaurant industry needed to be sensitized and also provided with alternatives that were easily available.
Speaking on the need for individuals to step up and take responsibility, RMD special secretary Anil Raj Rai stated that the government is geared up to beat plastic pollution, and it required the support of every individual to make that a success.