River Mithi gets a floating waste collector

Mumbai: Mumbai’s Mithi or the Mahim river, which is a key reason for flooding in the central suburbs during the monsoon, has received a waste collector to tackle floating river waste.

Huhtamaki, a global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, has donated €600,000 to fund the development and piloting of a river waste collector, invented by the Finnish cleantech start-up RiverRecycle.

The collector is an integral part of RiverRecycle’s solution to solve marine waste, one of the biggest global challenges of today.

“If we want to drive systemic change, we not only need to support the development and commercialization of innovation that can help stop waste from getting into the oceans, but we also need the monetization of waste and incentivization of local communities to improve their waste management practices,” said Thomasine Kamerling, executive vice president sustainability and communications, Huhtamaki.

Through Huhtamaki a prototype waste collector was built and tested in Finland. This was then transported to and assembled in Mumbai, where it is now operational and where it will be collecting waste from the Mithi River for the next 12 months.

Mithi flows through 17.84 km before meeting the Arabian Sea at the Mahim creek. It starts at the Vihar and Powai lakes and passes through several areas of Mumbai’s suburbs.

The river, which served as a stormwater drain and would drain away excess rainwater around the city into the Arabian Sea, has been blocked with sewage and waste. This led to the Mumbai deluge in 2005, too. However, 16 years down the line, nothing much has changed on the ground for the Mithi river.

“Huhtamaki funding enabled us to complete two of the three parts of our journey of transforming plastic waste into a resource, with the positive engagement of affected communities,” says Anssi Mikola, CEO and founder, RiverRecycle.

The Mithi river project is run by a global partnership between UNTIL (now known as UN Global Pulse), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, RiverRecycle and Earth5R, an India-based citizen-led environmental movement.

In addition to building, setting up and operating the river cleaner for a year, Huhtamaki’s donation has been used to organize local hands-on workshops on effective waste management and recycling with a view to driving systemic change.

The Huhtamaki funding enables the adaption of optical sensors and drones for detection of floating plastic objects and differentiation of plastics from organic material.

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