Demanding That Everything We Do Leads to a Cleaner, Healthier and Safer Environment

Which core areas do you focus on as part of your CSR strategy?

Cummins India Foundation was instituted in 1990 to channelize our’ commitment towards Corporate Responsibility. All its initiatives, both in the local community and in other parts of India where Cummins operates, fall under the three key focus areas of Higher Education, Energy and Environment, Social Justice and Infrastructure.
3. Our cities are increasingly finding it difficult to manage the challenge of waste generation. Can companies help in managing this as part of their CSR initiatives?

In a city like Pune (today, an industrial and educational hub), with a population of over 4.1 million people and growing at an alarming rate, the increasing population has resulted in straining the infrastructure, limiting the availability of resources in the city and thus calling for effective waste management.

Until recently, the civic authorities were handling garbage collection and dumping portion of garbage at a landfill located close to Pune. Suddenly, with the scale at which garbage was growing and the alarming levels of environmental pollution from that area which was a cause of concern for the neighbouring residents, the civic authorities decided to stop collection of wet garbage. This would leave people with no option but to segregate waste, in order to reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill. With over 1,600 tons of solid waste being generated each day, the city had to do something to address the growing garbage problem.

Acting on Cummins’ Mission of ‘demanding that everything we do leads to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment’, the Company has been working in this area since 2011, in collaboration with various NGOs and civic authorities on the Zero-Garbage project, which seeks to convert biodegradable waste into Bio Gas which is then used to produce electricity. The electricity thus produced is used to power street lights. The recyclable non-biodegradable waste can be recycled reducing the amount of garbage going to landfill.
The zero garbage model involves partnerships with NGOs and civic authorities and has an innovative approach towards solid waste management in which citizens pay a nominal fee to the waste pickers for collection of waste at door step. The project engages our employees in organised rallies and door-to-door campaigns to create basic awareness on waste segregation. Meetings with various housing societies, encouraging households to restart compost pits present within the society for decomposing wet waste, adequate training to the society staff on operating compost pits, and converting wet waste into biogas are some of the measures that have been taken to address this issue at hand.

Did your employees get involved in this initiative too?

In addition to creating awareness on waste segregation at source, Cummins engineers launched a Community Impact Six Sigma Project and using analysis- led-design developed a low-cost push-cart with better ergonomics. These push-carts have improved the conditions of the waste-collectors and simplified the process for collection of waste. The prototype for this push-cart has been developed by Cummins and the design has been shared with the PMC to be replicated across the various wards in the city for better waste collection.

Through these efforts, there has been a 35% improvement in segregation of waste at household level over 2013 and wet waste composting at societies of more than 4.66 tons / day. By extending the coverage of households, the overall impact of this project has been of 28.9 tons/ day.

In 2014, the zero-garbage project extended to e-waste across the city. E-waste in Pune is generated to the tune of 4,078 tons per annum. The concerns regarding e-waste disposal is caused from material contents such as lead, cadmium and mercury which have both environmental and health impacts. Awareness rallies included specific mention of e-waste and training on how to handle it. Training was also given to employees to further propagate in housing societies. With the success of the Katraj and Balewadi-Baner models, Cummins is now ready with a holistically developed model which can be replicated by others across different demographics within the city.

In conversation with Mr. S. Ravichandran who heads the Corporate Responsibility (CR) function for the Cummins Group in India. (Original Post)

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