City of Coimbatore priding itself on a bin-free ward


Progressing under the ‘SUNYA – Towards zero waste in South Asia’ project, ward no. 23 of R.S. Puram in Coimbatore, India, has now become a bin-free ward, marching towards achieving a zero waste status, through the adoption of several measures, including door to door collection of segregated waste , home composting and management of recyclables. As a result, all 89 garbage bins have been removed within the ward since they are no longer required. People’s participation, determination of the sanitary workers and an efficient civic body make ward no. 23 an example for many.

Ward number 23, which had been chosen as the pilot ward to demonstrate project activities, has been actively and steadily progressing towards achieving a zero waste status, through the process of segregating waste at source, encouraging bio composting in individual households and bin composting at the ward level to reduce the waste to be handled at the windrow compost yard. Recyclables are collected from each household by sanitary workers and are transported and stored at the ward office and then sold to the ITC’s Wealth out of Waste (WOW) initiative, twice in a week.

These results were achieved thanks to an intensive outreach campaign that included capacity-building for the workers, awareness and community involvement activities, distribution of pamphlets publicizing the concept of zero waste, source segregation of waste, composting, recycling and collection of special wastes, as well as infrastructural changes such as setting up a bio-compost site. A proposal for a bio-methanation plant is also on the anvil, to ensure sustainable processing of organic waste.

Ward number 23 is a perfect example of community engagement and the role this plays in improving a city - from street plays encouraging source segregation of waste and avoiding the use of plastic bags to organising awareness programmes for schools, this ward has seen it all. A major share of the credit also goes to the sanitary workers who have been trained for better understanding source segregation and collection. The newly trained workers make daily door-to-door visits to collect the segregated waste, keep the wet waste in sacks at a common point from where corporation lorries and auto rickshaws carry it away later to Onappalayam where composting is done. Home composting is also encouraged in some houses in this ward. Dry recyclable waste is handed over to ITC WOW, once in three days, bio-medical waste to Technotherm and the hazardous waste is sent to the Vellalore dump yard, where it is temporarily stored for further processing. The workers of ward 23 directly stand to gain financially from recyclables sold to ITC- the workers have signed a contract with ITC directly, without the involvement of the Corporation.

The motivation for ensuring the success of this system is thereby ensured through this mechanism. The Corporation, to acknowledge this hard work and effort, carried out a felicitation ceremony wherein the workers were awarded by the then Mayor. This recognition follows the felicitation of 30 residents of the same ward who had been awarded by the mayor and the commissioner for being actively involved in the source segregation process and for helping the ward become garbage-free. The Coimbatore City Corporation has also started a system of penalizing people for throwing garbage in open spaces in ward number 23 and is planning to place banners to discourage the public from throwing rubbish in open spaces. Wall stickers are pasted by sanitary staff on houses which do not segregate waste regularly, this serves as a major deterrent to non-compliance. Based on the experiences at ward number 23, the project concept is now being replicated in other wards as well so as to take Coimbatore a step closer to being a zero waste city.

More information can be found here.

To know more about the South Asian activities of the SUNYA project, visit:

Hetauda bags the award for the cleanest city of Nepal 2014


ICLEI member city Hetauda was declared the cleanest city of Nepal for 2014 by the Solid Waste Management Technical Support Centre under the Ministry of Urban Development, Nepal. The municipality was honored with a cash prize and a Letter of Appreciation during a programme organised in Lalitpur to announce the Cleanest City 2014. Hetauda stood out to be the winner because of its integrated and sustainable waste management schemes, green growth promotion including recreation parks, massive level of people's participation in environment conservation and waste management activities and pilot initiatives for zero waste management!

The city was assessed by an evaluation committee according to these parameters: waste management (40 per cent), water supply and sewerage management (35 per cent), pollution control (five per cent), greenery promotion (10 per cent) and beautification (10 per cent). Hetauda municipality was declared the cleanest city of the country with 67 points, followed by Dharan with 62 points.

The city is an active member of the SUNYA – Towards zero waste in South Asia project; the efforts of the city representatives, the immense levels of community involvement of its citizens and the support from the SUNYA project team, considerably contributed to Hetauda being crowned as the cleanest city of Nepal 2014. The project, which encourages the adoption of the '3R' principle of waste management- reduce, reuse and recycle - and the importance of community engagement, aims at reducing the pressure on cities like Hetauda for the disposal of waste in landfills and provide them with sustainable alternatives of waste management through pilot demonstrations.

“Hetauda is proud to have won the award for ‘the cleanest city of Nepal’ and to be linked with the SUNYA project which has contributed a lot towards our city winning this award. The project has motivated us to start source segregation by color based bins (green bins for organic, blue bins for recyclable and red bins for chemical/hazardous waste materials and making our city adopt a more sustainable approach to waste”, said a proud Pashupati Babu Puri, Executive Officer of the municipality.

To read more about Hetauda in the press, click here.

For further information about the SUNYA project, visit:

Matale engages students to achieve a state of zero waste


A framework for developing a zero waste management strategy for the city of Matale, operations and management of the existing box-composting plant, management of the existing dump site and streamlining current on-site composting practices in schools and institutions were the main topics of discussion of the recent visit of ICLEI South Asia team to Matale, Sri Lanka for the European Commission funded ‘SUNYA – Towards Zero Waste Management in South Asia’ project.

Matale is currently focusing on promoting zero waste management initiatives in the institutional sector in the city. Over the last year, the municipality has conducted several awareness generation programmes for school students and has trained more than 50 teachers and over 4000 students in practicing zero waste management practices in schools, such as waste minimization, adoption of the 3 R principles and on-site composting of organic waste. The city is further encouraging on-site composting and waste segregation through the distribution of compost bins to schools and government institutions. Students now segregate waste generated in their respective schools and compost all organic and yard waste within the school premises, where the use of plastic covers is banned. The city also carried out community level awareness generation programmes and has managed to reduce street corner littering through regular transport of waste and the installation of information boards.

The project ‘SUNYA – Towards zero waste management in South Asia’ intends to introduce the concept of zero waste into South Asian municipalities, encouraging the adoption of the '3R' principle of waste management - reduce, reuse and recycle. This will help reduce the dependence on landfills in cities and will provide them with sustainable alternatives of waste management through pilot demonstrations.

For further information on the projects South Asian activities, visit:

3R concept, plastic bag free areas and zero waste wards for SUNYA cities


Reviewing the activities of the past year and planning for the current one was the focus of the fourth partner meeting of SUNYA-Towards Zero Waste in South Asia, organised by Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) and ICLEI South Asia from 18-20 February 2014 in Coimbatore, India. The meeting, witnessed the participation of a plethora of esteemed guests like the Mayor of Coimbatore, Shri S.M. Velusamy; the Commissioner of Coimbatore, Ms. G. Latha, and high-level representatives from the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN), the Delegation of the European Union to India and ICLEI South Asia, together with the project cities.

In addition to national and international delegates, the meeting was an opportunity to invite community representatives from Ward number 23 of Coimbatore Corporation, where a SUNYA pilot project demonstration is in progress and to felicitate them for their active role in implementing the zero waste model advocated by the project. The sanitation department workers of CCMC (Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation) were also given a chance to share their experiences on implementing door to door segregation initiatives in Ward 23 and their involvement in ensuring recycling of all recyclable material collected from this ward, with support from local NGOs and other businesses.

Short presentations followed on the progress of activities in all seven implementing partner cities. Following are the highlights of the most recent SUNYA’s activities:

  • Hetauda Municipality, Nepal, has chosen Ward number 2 to be transformed into a ‘zero waste ward’, with 1965 households focusing on segregation of organic, recyclable and hazardous/chemical wastes using the green, blue and red channels (separate containers) for source segregation.
  • Tansen in Nepal has been distributing buckets and compost bins to the selected households for waste management. It has already declared itself a ‘plastic bag free area’.
  • North Dhaka, Bangladesh, is focusing on introducing 3R principles in the Banani kitchen market in its pilot project.
  • Phuentsholing, Bhutan, has chosen the College of Science and Technology (CST) as its pilot area and has conducted a number of activities such as orientation for environment clubs, placement of bins for segregated waste collection and construction of compost sheds for decentralised composting; mass campaigns were also conducted to spread awareness on the 3R (Re-use, Reduce, Re-cycle) concept.
  • Shimla, India, is introducing systems to ensure source segregation of waste and community level composting in one locality of the city, where collection and disposal into the mainstream disposal facility is difficult because of the topography.
  • Coimbatore, India, has adopted the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to ensure 100% collection of segregated waste from this ward and ensuring appropriate processing through recycling and community based composting. CCMC has been felicitating households actively engaged in waste segregation and street maintenance and is now in the process of publicly identifying households which are not complying with household level segregation requirements, by affixing notices on their properties and refusing collection of unsegregated waste. Penal provisions are also being contemplated, if required, at a later stage. 
  • Matale, Sri Lanka is propagating and introducing 3R practices in all schools and educational institutions in the city. 

The work plans for the current year were also discussed in detail by cities in separate working groups, aided by the European technical experts (non-state actors from Europe – VVSG, ARGE and the sub-contractor Aiforia). The participants undertook a field visit of ward number 23 on the last day of the meeting, where they observed first-hand the waste segregation methodology implemented by the city. Interested participants also visited the Integrated Solid waste Management Facility in Coimbatore, where windrow composting, production of Refuse Derived Fuel and disposal of inerts and rejects in a scientific, sanitary solid waste landfill facility are being carried out.

Ms. Sarojini Kaul from the Delegation of the European Union to India, commended the efforts taken by Coimbatore city to institutionalise the pilot initiative and also to promote decentralised waste management solutions like the biomethanation facility currently implemented in the “Amma” canteen.

For further information on the SUNYA project, visit:

Progressive results for SUNYA – residents in Coimbatore take a step forward


30 residents from ward number 23 in RS Puram, Coimbatore, were presented with gifts and certificates from the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, as a token of appreciation for engaging in source segregation of household garbage activities at their residence, as part of the SUNYA-Towards zero waste in South Asia project. Mayor SM Velusamy and Commissioner G Latha handed over the gifts themselves, together with other senior corporation.

The felicitation was an attempt to encourage and motivate more residents to engage in individual source segregation of waste. "We wanted to ensure that the residents are appreciated in their efforts to ensure source segregation here. We want to make sure that the practice can be sustained," said S Sivarasu, Deputy Commissioner.

The city municipal corporation had selected 500 households in five different streets in ward number 23 to carry out the trial run of Sunya project. The recyclable waste collected is handed over to a private firm while the civic body is planning to set up a vermicompost yard on Thadagam road in the adjacent municipal ward to divert the wet organic waste collected. At present, the organic waste is sent to the compost yard in Vellalore dump yard. Read more.

Led by ICLEI South Asia and the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN), the European Union funded project SUNYA-Towards zero waste in South Asia intends to introduce the concept of zero waste into seven municipalities of South Asia (Shimla and Coimbatore - India, Hetauda and Tansen - Nepal, Dhaka - Bangladesh, Matale - Sri Lanka and Phuentsholing - Bhutan), encouraging the 3Rs of waste management - reduce, reuse and recycle.

Learning on the ground: SUNYA cities visit Europe


It was not only on paper the exchange of best practices that the SUNYA cities had a chance to be part of: through the European Union funded project “SUNYA-Towards Zero Waste in South Asia”, the cities of Tansen and Hetauda in Nepal, Shimla in North India and Coimbatore in South India, Phuentsholing in Bhutan, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Matale in Sri Lanka went on a European study visit from 23 to 27 September 2013.

The project cities, along with representatives from the Municipal Association of Nepal and ICLEI South Asia, travelled to Brussels (Belgium) and Vienna (Austria), where the European partners ARGE and the Association of Flemish Municipalities (VVSG) are respectively based. The study tour gave to the South Asian participants an opportunity to observe on the ground the overall waste management system as well as the different applications of the 3R Principle (Re-Use, Reduce and Re-cycle) for Solid Waste Management (SWM) applied in European cities. The different site visits were followed by a discussion on the possibilities to emulate, with suitable modifications to suit the local context, these practices in the South Asian context.

As part of the trip, the SUNYA cities were taken to the Belgian waste management facility centre Indaver, which works on behalf of local authorities who are looking for a suitable partner to assist them in the execution of their waste management plan. Indaver’s public waste partnerships help public authorities implement a sustainable and cost-effective waste management. The benefits of inter-municipal associations to handle solid waste (such as the one in the Flanders region) were also illustrated to the South Asian delegation: high quality service provision, more efficient management, stability in the overall cost management and lower cost per inhabitant.

The following visit to the Antwerp administrative office and the waste collection sites at Antwerp saw the officials explaining to the group their door-to-door waste collection process and sorting waste techniques. The team also visited IMOG (Inter Municipal Organization), located in Moen, where IMOG’s work and their inter-municipal cooperation with the neighbouring 11 municipalities to handle waste was presented to the team.

The team then moved on to Graz, Austria, where the 3rd SUNYA Project meeting was held. A study visit was then made to the municipal waste collection centre of the city, where the entire waste management process was demonstrated to the group. Project cities were also shown the composting process pertaining to generation of manure from the municipal waste at several composting sites.

To conclude the tour, the South Asian delegates were taken to Komptech, to visit the leading international technology supplier of machinery and systems for the mechanical and mechanical-biological treatment of solid waste and for the treatment of biomass as a renewable energy source.

European – South Asian exchange towards zero waste cities


Witnessing directly how other cities overcame similar challenges is one of the most efficient ways to learn about best practices and solutions to common problems – this is the idea behind the visit to Europe of the Asian project partners and cities of “SUNYA-Towards Zero Waste in South Asia”.

As part of the European Union funded project, on 22-28 September, the involved cities will travel, together with Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN) and ICLEI South Asia representatives, to the cities of Vienna and Brussels, where the European partners ARGE and the Association of Flemish Municipalities (VVSG) are respectively based. The study tour will give to the Asian participants an opportunity to observe the overall waste management system in these cities, as well as the different applications of the 3R principle for Solid Waste Management (SWM). The study tour will be followed by a discussion on the possibilities to emulate, with suitable modifications to suit the local context, these practices in the Asian cities.

The European visit comes after a very intense period of planning of pilot projects in the project cities.

In Coimbatore (India), the pilot project will introduce the 3R principle in ward number 23, where the land is used for residential, commercial, governmental, religious, institutional and industrial purposes. The pilot intervention will include extensive awareness generation through Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities, the formation of a participatory ward committee, door to door collection of segregated waste from residential, commercial and institutional units (including street sweeping and drain cleansing), and the setting up of waste collection centers for recyclables and a biogas plant for organic waste in the area. The pilot project identified in Shimla (India) will introduce source segregation of waste and composting for one area in the city, located in the valley, where the topography makes the collection and disposal into the mainstream system very difficult.

The Banani Food Market, in Dhaka (Bangladesh) will be the pilot area where the 3R principle and composting practices will be introduced. This will be done through separate waste collection in the market area; setting up of rooftop composting on the building of the market; and awareness-raising on waste management amongst the market users.

Hetauda Municipality (Nepal) will work in ward number 2 on waste segregation through a two channel system of green and blue channels, implementing at source segregation into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste at the household level and at secondary transfer stations. In Tansen (Nepal), waste segregation practices and citizens awareness raising activities on littering, waste segregation and composting will be introduced in the areas of Milijuli, Makhan and Ason Tole.

The pilot intervention of Matale (Sri Lanka) will introduce the 3R principle in all the local schools and institutions. This ambitious goal is aiming at reducing the amount of waste going to the city landfill, which is already almost completely full.

The CST engineering college of Phuentsholing (Bhutan) will carry out several environmentally friendly activities, including the purchasing of color coded dustbins, awareness-raising of campus staff and students, the preparation of proper data about waste/generation collection in the college, the organization of awareness campaigns in other schools, as well as paper recycling, segregated waste collection and composting.

Waste segregation and awareness raising initiatives get the local community involved in SUNYA project cities

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) hosted the second partner meeting of SUNYA-Towards Zero Waste in South Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 18-20 February 2013. The cities involved in the project (from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) met with the partner organizations to take stock of the considerable progress already achieved and plan the next steps.

Most cities have formed local project coordination units and are successfully carrying out a wide range of local activities, from waste segregation and collection initiatives, awareness raising campaigns, rag-pickers capacity building, education programmes in schools and more. This was possible also thanks to the identification of key stakeholders, within the local community, who are involved in the development of the project activities, bringing in their perspective and expertise.

First city visit to Dhaka lays the foundation

ICLEI South Asia representatives visited Dhaka under the SUNYA- Towards zero waste in South Asia (link) programme on 2, 3 and 9 December to introduce the project and its objectives to all relevant city officials and stakeholders and plan activities for the next month. A second partner meeting is set to be held from 17 to 20 February, 2013 to review the process.

First local visits for SUNYA cities set the ball rolling

The first local meetings for SUNYA- Towards zero waste in South Asia were recently conducted in Phuentsholing, Bhutan; Matale, Sri Lanka; and in Coimbatore and Shimla in India. The meetings were held to introduce the project to all local stakeholders and kick off activities; to document the solid waste management system in the cities; and to identify focus areas for pilot initiatives. An on-ground analysis of solid waste management systems and the possibilities of integrating the informal sector with formal waste management systems were initiated with a detailed questionnaire in each city. Local communities were visited to identify potential pilot sites. A local stakeholder meeting was organized by the municipalities to allow ICLEI South Asia to introduce the project.

Training of Trainers for SUNYA's local project coordinators

A training workshop on sustainable solid waste management was organized in Delhi, India from 28 August to 31 August 2012 for the local project coordinators of the project cities. The four day workshop was hosted by ICLEI South Asia.
Participating cities:
Shimla, India
Coimbatore, India
Matale, Sri Lanka
Hetauda, Nepal
Tansen, Nepal
Phuentsholing, Bhutan
*North Dhaka, Bangladesh was unable to attend

Inaugurating the workshop, Farhad Suri, former mayor and present Leader of the Opposition of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, stated that rag pickers play an important role in the solid waste management of Delhi and are a big strength in managing waste. He urged the smaller cities to take timely steps to manage waste, and to look for possible opportunities to formalize and integrate the informal sector.

The technical sessions of the workshop were complemented by site visits in Delhi to showcase working examples of sustainable solid waste management. During the technical sessions the participants were trained on the principles of sustainable waste management and how to incorporate these into their city processes. Some of the topics covered included the 3R principle of waste management, involvement of the informal sectors, community involvement in solid waste management, and public private partnership for municipal bodies. Successful case studies from around the country were also showcased to the participants.

Site visits covered a spectrum of initiatives ranging from a small community level composting unit run by a Residence Welfare Association (RWA) to the Composting Plant and Waste to Energy plant of Municipal Corporation of Delhi at Okhla. Participants also got the opportunity to observe a unique initiative where a group of informal workers have come together to form a registered group with the government to collect e-waste.

Kick-off meeting and project launch in Kathmandu

January 30
The four day kick-off meeting of SUNYA was held in Gokarna Forest Resort in Kathmandu, Nepal from January 30 to February 2, 2012 involving partner cities and organisations.

The meeting was inaugurated by Kalanidhi Devkota, Executive Secretary of the Municpal Association of Nepal (MuAN) and was facilitated by Emani Kumar, Executive Director of ICLEI South Asia.

Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Manager-Sustainability of ICLEI SA ; Andrea Burzacchini, Director of Aiforia-Agency for Sustainability based in Freiburg, Germany presented an introduction and overview of SUNYA highlighting the partner cities and organizations involved. Burzacchini, the sub-contractor for the project, highlighted that SUNYA as a project directly addresses two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely Goal 1: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and Goal 7: ensuring environmental sustainability. The main objectives of the project are to promote the zero-waste concept as a sustainable waste management practice in urban areas of South Asia through the 3R principle.

The international partnership for this project is led by the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN). Pramod Aryal, Finance Officer of MuAN informed all partners that the overall budget for the project is 1541150 Euros for 3 years which is to be used for conducting project activities, events, dissemination of information, local and international travel, purchasing equipment and supplies, office costs and so on. Kumar clarified that partners needed to obey the ‘rule of the land’ while spending the project budget.

January 31
The second day of the kick-off meeting (January 31) discussed the reporting and communication guidelines. Here, Sadhukhan explained that the European Commission has particular reporting formats which need to be taken into consideration by all partners. The meeting unanimously decided that the format of reporting would be half-yearly focusing on main events and deliverables and their linkages with local actions. She also emphasized that regular internal communication through telephone, emails, internet chats etc. and external communication through DVDs, newsletters etc. between all partners is needed for the project to run smoothly.

The next session was on the assessment of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) status of partner cities, done on the basis of questionnaires circulated to all partners regarding the SWM situation in their cities. Soumya Chaturvedula, Senior Manager of Southern Centre ICLEI South Asia briefly presented the SWM scenario of all cities.

February 1
On the third day, participants were taken to Sisdol landfill site at Okharpauwa VDC of Nuwakot district as a part of their field visit. This is where approximately 500 tonnes of waste from Kathmandu and Lalitpur are disposed everday.

The Civil Engineer of the Environment Management Division of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office and manager of the site, Deepak Ratna Kansakar briefed participants on the landfill and on the issues associated with it such as power cuts, a lack of maintenance, erratic rainfalls, the limited capacity of the site itself, etc.

February 2
The final day of the meeting involved collecting feedback and a list of expectations from participants. Representatives from each city and organisation noted down their comments - suggestions/ recommendations were discussed, and were the basis of improved planning for the future of SUNYA.

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