'Green cops' send plastic wrappers back to makers

A bunch of students of Nagaon Bengali Girls' High School, who call themselves "Green Police" for their environmental-sanitation initiatives, have started a new cleanliness drive by collecting plastic covers and wrappers of branded food items and sending those back to their multinational manufacturers to remind them of their role in environmental sanitation.

By Gaurav Das in Guwahati
  • Published 29.08.18
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Green Police members hold plastic food packets which they will return to the manufacturers

Guwahati: A bunch of students of Nagaon Bengali Girls' High School, who call themselves "Green Police" for their environmental-sanitation initiatives, have started a new cleanliness drive by collecting plastic covers and wrappers of branded food items and sending those back to their multinational manufacturers to remind them of their role in environmental sanitation.

This is the latest cleanliness initiative in which they are taking the lead not only by generating awareness about hazards of unhygienic surroundings, but also to put an end to it.

The step involves a plan to remind manufacturers about Extended Producers' Responsibility (EPR) and ask them to stop selling their products in Nagaon.

The idea of this unique cleanliness initiative struck the girls when they saw the nook and corner of their home town Nagaon almost littered with plastic covers and wrappers. Plastics are not recycled at the local level, resulting in clogged drains during rain.

EPR is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.

The group's mentor, Nripendra Sarma, who is an engineer with the public health engineering department, said: "Solid waste management rules have a provision of EPR for producers of such food packets based on which the plastic packaging materials should be recalled by them and recycled. But no manufacturer has adopted this practice of collecting back from the market. At present, no EPR is being followed and so the Nagaon-based Green Police has begun collecting such plastic packaging materials and planning to send those back to the producers."

In the past few days, the Green Police brigade is busy collecting plastic packets of branded packaged food.

The packets will be sent to the manufacturers in envelopes made with old newspapers. They are ready to be shipped on Wednesday under bearing post (meaning Green Police shall not bear any costs.

"Considering this year's World Environment Day 2018 theme of 'beat plastic pollution', they started collecting plastic food packets from their homes and neighbourhood which are thrown away after taking out the food, leading to plastic pollution. The manufacturers should take back for recycling, but nothing as such is happening," said Aparna Bhattacharya, a teacher of Nagaon Bengali Girl's School and guide to Green Police.

Since 2016, the girls have been shouldering the responsibility of maintaining environmental cleanliness and sustainability of their surroundings. The town's residents and the district administration have begun to take cognisance of their work.

Formed in 2015 as a result of creating collective conscience about environmental cleanliness and hygiene in the neighbouring areas of the school, Green Police's first call to action was to put a stop to littering in front of their school.