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www.letsrob.orgThe Adyar River EstuaryWaste Audit ReportPrepared by: Reclaim Our Beaches19 April 2012First report of the R...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                Running hea...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                       Runn...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                           ...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                 Running he...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                           ...
www.letsrob.org                                                                                                           ...
The Adyar River Estuary Waste Audit Report- prepared by Reclaim Our Beaches
The Adyar River Estuary Waste Audit Report- prepared by Reclaim Our Beaches
The Adyar River Estuary Waste Audit Report- prepared by Reclaim Our Beaches
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The Adyar River Estuary Waste Audit Report- prepared by Reclaim Our Beaches

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It is impossible to think about Chennai without thinking about its beautiful beaches. These days however,
it is impossible to think about Chennai’s beaches without thinking about how dirty they are.
So, why are our beaches so dirty?
Most people would say it’s because our government isn't doing its job; in providing dustbins or removing
trash from the beach. Some would say its because of our ‘Indian mentality’ and lack of civic sense,
which has resulted in litter all over the beach. However, we often neglect to mention how our poor waste management practices directly affect our beach environment. We fail to see our part in creating this problem- as consumers and thus creators of ‘waste’ through our lifestyle choices. We also overlook the
need to discuss the regulation of materials that are used to package the products we consume. In fact,
when most citizens think of how they can improve Chennai’s waste management or raise awareness, it is
usually framed through a ‘cleanup’ ethic that only aims to remove trash and litter from the beach ecosystem.
Is this enough?
No. We believe it’s not. Its not about getting the government to buy more sand sieve machines or
getting the ‘youth’ together for a cleanup. We know. We have organized too many cleanups to see the
same amount of trash come back in a couple of months. In fact, when we compared the amount of trash
and the materials it was made of on Elliots beach after a year of cleanup drives (organized by us and
many others) we found no signicant reduction (Reclaim Our Beaches 2011). Moreover, beach cleanups
can never be long term solutions because by themselves they are supercial interventions that only
move trash from one place to another (from the beach to Pallikaranai or Kodungaiyur, Chennai’s primary
dump-yards) contributing ironically to the spatial injustice of our city by delivering more trash to the
residents in these areas.
Rather than focusing on making our beach ecosystem clean, we need to look at solutions that help make
it healthy. We need to expand our sight to make sure that these solutions are ecologically sustainable
and socially and spatially equitable.
This is the rst of a series of reports we have planned for the ROB ‘Exposing Waste Campaign,’ which
focuses on documenting the ugly truths about waste, and the politics embedded within it.

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Transcript of "The Adyar River Estuary Waste Audit Report- prepared by Reclaim Our Beaches"

  1. 1. www.letsrob.orgThe Adyar River EstuaryWaste Audit ReportPrepared by: Reclaim Our Beaches19 April 2012First report of the ROB Exposing Waste Campaign Reclaim Our Beaches H16/9, Seevakan Street, Kalakshetra Colony,  Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090 9
  2. 2. www.letsrob.org Running headForewordIt is impossible to think about Chennai without thinking about its beautiful beaches. These days how-ever, it is impossible to think about Chennai’s beaches without thinking about how dirty they are.So, why are our beaches so dirty?Most people would say it’s because our government isnt doing its job; in providing dustbins or remov-ing trash from the beach. Some would say its because of our ‘Indian mentality’ and lack of civic sense,which has resulted in litter all over the beach. However, we often neglect to mention how our poor wastemanagement practices directly affect our beach environment. We fail to see our part in creating thisproblem- as consumers and thus creators of ‘waste’ through our lifestyle choices. We also overlook theneed to discuss the regulation of materials that are used to package the products we consume. In fact,when most citizens think of how they can improve Chennai’s waste management or raise awareness, it isusually framed through a ‘cleanup’ ethic that only aims to remove trash and litter from the beach ecosys-tem. Is this enough?No. We believe it’s not. Its not about getting the government to buy more sand sieve machines orgetting the ‘youth’ together for a cleanup. We know. We have organized too many cleanups to see thesame amount of trash come back in a couple of months. In fact, when we compared the amount of trashand the materials it was made of on Elliots beach after a year of cleanup drives (organized by us andmany others) we found no significant reduction (Reclaim Our Beaches 2011). Moreover, beach cleanupscan never be long term solutions because by themselves they are superficial interventions that onlymove trash from one place to another (from the beach to Pallikaranai or Kodungaiyur, Chennai’s primarydump-yards) contributing ironically to the spatial injustice of our city by delivering more trash to theresidents in these areas.Rather than focusing on making our beach ecosystem clean, we need to look at solutions that help makeit healthy. We need to expand our sight to make sure that these solutions are ecologically sustainableand socially and spatially equitable.This is the first of a series of reports we have planned for the ROB ‘Exposing Waste Campaign,’ whichfocuses on documenting the ugly truths about waste, and the politics embedded within it. The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9
  3. 3. www.letsrob.org Running headIntroductionThe Adyar Estuary is the site where the Adyar River meets the Bay of Bengal. It is located just north ofElliots Beach in Besant Nagar. The estuary supports a multitude of flora and fauna, which thrive in itsecosystem. Along with the Adyar Creek and Theosophical Society, it forms part of an important networkthat supports a large number of migratory and resident bird species.Studies have shown elevated pollution levels in the adyar river, caused mainly due to it receiving largequantities of municipal and industrial wastes from the city (Ramesh et al. 2002, Gowri et al. 2008, Shan-mugam et al. 2006, Achyuthan et al. 2002). Anthropogenic pollution in the river is so extensive, that ithas been classified as one of 4 ‘major polluting zones’ responsible for our coastal waters exceedinginternational pollution level standards. As a result of this pollution, many fishing communities sufferfrom skin diseases, and communities closest to the estuary like Urur Kuppam, Olcott Kuppam and Srini-vasapuram suffer the worst (Shanmugam et al. 2006).However, most studies that measure pollution in the Adyar River and Estuary tend to focus on the impactof sewage and industrial waste water. They use dissolved and particulate contaminants that constitutesewage and sullage as indicators to measure pollution. In our study, we were interested in understand-ing pollution caused by the end products of consumption- the empty food packets, the broken alcoholbottles and the used containers of every-day household items that are the byproducts of our lifestyle.This is because we believe that to reach a Summary of Findingstruly sustainable solution, it is not enough From a survey area at the estuary measuring roughly 0.8 squarefor only the government to improve the kilometers, the waste of 663 unique products belonging to 11way it manages waste. It is also imperative different product categories like Food & Drink, Household etc. were found.that we consume less and demand moresustainable products from companies that Research showed that there were more than 301 companies respon-manufacture them. This report surveys the sible for the manufature of all these products.kinds of waste (food & drink, household,etc.) and waste material (plastic, silver foil, 85% of all products were packaged using plastic and/or silverfoil.etc.) found at the mouth of the AdyarEstuary. 54% of all products found were in the food and drink category out of which 97% were packaged using plastic and/or silverfoil.Through such an empirical study, we hope 29% of all the unique products found were manufactured by 20to convincingly assert the need for more companies.holistic solutions to waste management,ones that leaves no one out; not the gov- These top 20 companies that had the most unique products at theernment, not large companies, and defi- estuary are all large well known, highly profitable entities likenitely not ourselves. Hindustan Unilever, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and so on. 90% of all products from these top 20 companies were packaged using plastic and/or silverfoil. The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9
  4. 4. www.letsrob.org Running headSurvey Area and MethodologyThe Adyar River, along with the Cooum and Buckingham Canal, forms one of Chennai city’s three majorwaterways. The course of the river from its source near Guduvancherry to the sea is around 42 Km. Itdrains a total catchment area of 1142 sq. Km and it’s width varies from 200m to 10m through its length. Itopens to the Bay of Bengal forming an estuary with swash back tidal currents affecting about 200m intothe river mouth during high tides (Ramesh et al. 2002, Achyuthan et al. 2002, Kanthimathinathan 2010). Picture 1: Google Map image of a portion of the Adyar RiverThe mouth of the estuary served as the survey site, measuring around 0.8 square kilometers in area. Thesize of this site was decided (shown in picture 2) based on accessibility, and only land portions weresurveyed. A significant portion of the sample area was surveyed due to the presence of a sand bar. Thesurvey area was divided into 11 zones and over the course of 6 weekends, data was gathered with thehelp of ROB volunteers. Data collection was done in the months of August and September 2011. Picture 2: Google Earth image of sample area (image date: 16/05/2011) The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9
  5. 5. www.letsrob.org Running headSurvey Area and MethodologyVolunteers were divided into teams with one responsible for picking up the trash while the otherentered data into a simple survey sheet. Four kinds of information were collected about each piece oftrash that was picked up:- Product name (eg: Mango Slice).- Company/Corporation name (eg: PepsiCo).- Product type (eg: Food & Drink).- Material type (eg: Plastic).Types of products that were found were classified as either Food & Drink, Clothing & Apparel, Alcohol,Tobacco, Household, Personal Care and Cosmetics, Pharmaceutical, Stationery, Industrial or Miscellane-ous. Data was digitized by volunteers and uploaded onto a google spreadsheet. This data was thencleaned up during the months of November, December and January by volunteers working mostly overthe weekend.The focus was to collect data about all the different products that were present at the estuary in the formof waste. Therefore, repetitions of products that had already been found and recorded in the surveysheet were disregarded when compiling the data for analysis. The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9
  6. 6. www.letsrob.org Running headData AnalysisTo help understand the survey data, two kinds of visualizations were used- bubble charts and treemaps.Bubble charts are ideal to help visualize proportions of individual categories with respect to each other.It was used to help understand the distribution of product types and material found at the estuary. It wasalso used to visualize the diversity of companies based on type of entity and the top 20 companiesbased on most unique products found.Tree maps help understand hierarchal structures and are visualized as a set of nested rectangles. Theywere used to visualize the number of products, product types and material within the top 20 companiesthat had the most unique products found at the estuary. 1. Classification of products by category: Miscellaneous Stationery (1.5%) (4.52%) 10 30 Alcohol Tobacco (4.22%) Clothing & Apparel 28 Food & Drinks Household Pharma- Industrial ceutical Miscellaneous (4.97%) Personal Care & Cosmetics 33 Food & Drinks (53.84%) Pharmaceutical 357 Stationery Water (4.67%) Tobacco 31 Water Household 3 Industrial (0.45%) 100 (5.12%) 34 Clothing & Apparel Alcohol Personal Care (6.63%) (4.52%) & Cosmetics 44 30 (9.5%) 63 0 2. Classification of products by material: Rubber (2.11%) Aluminium Cardboard Cloth Composite Glass Leather Plastic (61.08%) Paper 14 405 Leather (1) (0.15%) Plastic Plastic and Silver Foil Rubber 8 Cardboard (1.20%) Composite Silver Foil (3.92%) Styrofoam 26 14 Plastic and Silverfoil (2.11%) Paper (1) (0.15%) 100 Glass (5.42%) 7 Aluminium (1.05%) 36 Silver Foil (21.56%) 143 Styrofoam (2) (0.30%) 6 Cloth (0.90%) 0 The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9
  7. 7. www.letsrob.org Running headData AnalysisA total of 663 unique products were found during the survey. When the data was analyzed by type ofproduct and material, it was found that the majority of waste was from the food and drink category(almost 54% percent). Furthermore, products from the food and drink, household and personal care andcosmetics categories made up almost 80% of the waste found at the estuary. It is important to note thatsince we did not record repititions of products, the size of the bubbles are not indicative of the totalnumber of waste at the survey area, but rather only the number of unique products found. So forinstance, while the number of products that were classified as industrial were only three, thermocoal,which was one of these three, was found in large quantities and spread out over the entire survey area.85% of the packaging material of all products found at the estuary were made out of mainly plasticand/or silver foil.Out of the 663 products found, companies responsible for the manufacture of 110 of these productswere unable to be obtained; either due to the decay of the product or lack of information about it (forproducts like decayed slippers, helmets, old medicine bottles, soft toys and so on). The data revealed thatthe rest of the 553 products found were manufactured by a total of 301 companies. Information aboutthese companies were obtained through research and classified based on type of entity. 3. Classification of companies by type of entity: Private Sector (privately listed) (48.83%) Co-operative 147 Co-operative (0.66%) Private Sector (privately listed) Private Sector (publicly listed) Public Sector 2 Unknown 60 3 40 UNKNOWN (22.25%) 20 Private Sector (publicly listed) 67 (27.24%) 82 0 Public Sector (0.99%)Out of the 237 companies that we were able to classify, 98% were from the private sector. We wereunable to obtain information for 67 companies. This was due to the absence of information about thesecompanies online. The Adyar RiverPolicy report: Off-track, off-target Estuary Waste Audit Report 9

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