2023 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards Competition Winner

Grand Prize - Small Projects

E3S Grand Prize

Plastic Waste Collection, Processing and Recycling with Employment Generation

Entrant: Bharathi Theertha and Rotary Club of Naperville, IL
Engineer in Charge: Prakasam Tata, Ph.D., BCES, WEF Fellow
Location: Naperville, Illinois
Media Contact: Prakasam Tata

Entrant Profile

Rotary Club

Dr. Prakasam (Prakash) Tata, BCES, is instrumental in developing, fundraising, and enabling the implementation of a Plastic Waste recycling project in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, A. P., India. Indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste is causing the pollution of freshwater bodies, seawater, and land areas like parks and beaches in this city. 

The financing of the machinery needed, about $120,000, is innovatively raised through donations made by individuals, Rotary Clubs in the USA, and India, two charitable organizations, and two industries in India (Aurobindo Biotech and Pharma and Vihaan Kia), under their Corporate Social Responsibility program. 

The objective of this project is to process two tons of dry plastic waste collected by the India Youth For Society (IYFS), from Visakhapatnam’s apartment buildings, market areas, etc. IYFS is a nonprofit organization whose members are mostly youth. The plastic waste collected is processed by appropriate machinery to separate, wash, dry, and shred to make small chips of plastic. IYFS sells plastic chips to bulk suppliers at a good return of revenue. The suppliers, who buy these chips, in turn, mold them into useful products for sale. About 25 unemployed youth will be employed in this project. 

The following people assisted Dr. Tata in the development and implementation of the project: 

  • Barry McKeown, Chair, International Service committee, Rotary Club of Naperville, Naperville, IL 
  • Srini Namasivayam, Sunrise Rotary Club, Naperville, IL - Stewardship 
  • Messrs. Uday Pilani, V. Suneel, R. Kannan, U. Patanjali, Rotary Club of Lake District, Moinabad, Hyderabad, India – Stewardship.
  • Y. Appala Reddy, India Youth for Society, Visakhapatnam, A, P., India - Operations Manager
  • D. Ravindranath, Rotary Elite Club, Visakhapatnam, India – Facilitator and Monitoring
  • N. V. S. Murthy, Lions Club, Visakhapatnam, India Facilitator, and Monitoring
  • Mr. Raghunathan Kannan – Aurobindo Biotech (Corporate Social Responsibility Funding)
  • Mr. Suneel Vadlamudi – Project Manager 

Project Description

An Integrated Approach

The project on Plastic Waste Recycling involves an integrated approach to create synergy among individuals, nonprofit organizations, foundations, a nonprofit youth organization, India Youth for Society (IYFS), and the municipal agency, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) to abate the pollution of fresh and marine waters and land areas of Visakhapatnam, a coastal city of Andhra Pradesh, India. The current project involves the collection and processing of 2 tons of plastic waste/day with the following objectives: 1) To raise the money to procure the needed machinery and process it in a shift of 8 hours for making plastic chips and granules for sale to bulk recyclers, and 2) to provide employment to laborers, educated unemployed youth, and other lowly paid or unemployed skilled workers.

We created a partnership among the GVMC, IYFS, and nonprofit organizations such as Bharathi Theertha, USA, North South Foundation, USA, Rotary Clubs in India and the USA, Rotary District 6450, Rotary International and local Indian industries that have the CSR program to award grants to projects that benefits the wellbeing of communities. Except for GVMC and IYFS, the members of which are mostly unemployed youth, the other charitable organizations raised $120,000 to install the project.

Public’s Appreciation of the Quality of the Project

The pollution abate activities of India Youth for Society and the Rotary Clubs in Visakhapatnam for the past 10 years and the active involvement of Dr. Prakash Tata for the last four (4) years raised the public’s awareness of current and emerging environmental issues. This awareness and behavior change among several people is observable. Environmental pollution clean-up activities by students and youth have increased. IYFS periodically conducts awareness and beach clean-ups to collect plastic wrappers and containers thrown away by people, and publicize such events in the media to motivate the public. People in the area are aware of the projects that Dr. Tata did with the help of fellow Rotarians and IYFS volunteers on pollution remediation of waterbodies, elimination of open defecation, abatement of indoor air pollution in poor villager’s homes by replacing lanterns using kerosine with solar lanterns, etc.

The public and the GVMC really appreciated it when the plastic waste recycling project was formally inaugurated and started functioning. GVMC’s appreciation is reflected by its providing water and electricity without a charge to IYFS to operate the machinery. Strict operational protocols are being observed for the safety and protection of the health of the operating personnel.

Not only the public agency such as the GVMC appreciates the value of the project, other groups such as the Plastic Waste Group of the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group also has appreciated the project when he presented the content of the project at an international forum in a Zoom meeting.

Originality and Innovation

  • No project of this type exists today in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • No funding from governmental agencies was neither sought or received. The funding of $120, 000 for this project was raised by persons and organizations with a charitable disposition such as Bharathi Theertha and North South Foundation.
  • The Involvement of Rotary Clubs, whose members believe in Service Above Self, to be stewards of the project,
  • IYFS, consisting of youth members under the age of 40 is the operating partner of this project. They have been working for the past several years on creating awareness about the hazards caused by pollution of air, water, and soil and working on abating the pollution of water bodies and soil in the city.
  • IYFS is trained and designated to the operator of the machinery and its maintenance.
  • IYFS has been organizing, 1) awareness campaigns, 2) collection of plastic waste from apartments, beaches, and market areas, 3) celebration of events such as World Water Day Environment Day, and Earth Day, 4) Plastic Parlors, where dry plastic waste that is brought by community’s residents is exchanged with natural products such as cloth bags, potted plants, etc.
  • The GVMC has a Memorandum of Understanding with the IYFS and has been maintaining it because of the performance of IYFS and its activities.
  • The involvement of a committed youth organization, IYFS, to undertake the operation and maintenance of the project and providing employment opportunities for the unemployed youth, and semi-skilled and skilled workers.

The Complexity of the Problem or Situation Addressed

The complexity of the problem that is faced by the project team is how to raise the money to initiate the project. It is difficult to initiate a pollution abatement project by a municipal agency without following bureaucratic protocols unless it is a national disaster. Municipalities and pollution control boards in India are short of staff to quickly approve projects or enforce regulations. To address this situation, we chose to raise the funds needed for the implementation of this demonstration project through donations made by caring individuals, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and industries that have CSR programs.

To address the operation and maintenance of the project, we have collaborated with GVMC and IYFS. It lessens at least some of the burdens on GVMC to collect and process the plastic waste disposed of indiscriminately by the public. The project also provides employment to at least 25 youths.

Project’s Contribution to the Prospect of Social and Economic Advancement

The prospect of social advancement is immense. The public is now aware of the perils of pollution in our environment caused by waste. Our efforts in creating awareness through presentations, seminars, workshops, and organizing campaigns to collect solid wastes from water bodies and parks, etc., have a great impact.

The project provides employment to about 25 youths for processing 2 tons of plastic waste/per day. The projected net income after all the expenses is $43,000 per year which means that all the equipment costs will be recovered in three years. The project has the potential of scalability to process the 100 tons of plastic waste generated daily in Visakhapatnam to yield an income of $ 4.3 million per month and employment to 1,250 youth.


Click images to enlarge in separate window.

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Click on the Link to Watch the Plant installed in Operation: https://youtu.be/UfNn1ZoQF2A

Exchange Of Gifts for the Plastic Waste Turned in at the IYFS Organized Event

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IYFS Sign to Pick up Dry Waste at the Kappulapada Solid waste Facility, Visakhapatnam

Click on the Link to Watch the Plant installed in Operation: https://youtu.be/UfNn1ZoQF2A

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Degradable products given in exchange of plastic waste

Items Given by IYFS in Exchange of Plastic Waste

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Preview YouTube video Our Plant Testing

Plastic Waste Collected by IYFS from the Bay of Bengal Coast of Visakhapatnam, A. P.

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Our Plant Testing Stage - Temporary Video.

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Some Donors and Operators of the Machinery at the Project Site


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