Indian Cafes and Their Unique Waste Management Initiatives

Hotels and restaurants are one of the prime sources of waste generation as they are the primary consumers of resources. In this era of green sustainable strategies of waste disposal, recycling benefits the hotel industry and preserves our environment. It is of prime importance for the hotel industry to develop new, efficient ways of waste management, such as reduction in generation of waste and efficient recycling of useful waste.

A strategic plan must be chalked out to bring this agenda to practice. Some of the strategies that can be employed are:

  • Using supplies judiciously
  • Quantification and characterisation of waste
  • Framework development of waste disposal
  • Making a profit by composting waste
  • Analysing the kinetics of waste production to waste disposal
  • Careful planning of menu, portion size control, and food safety guidelines

Waste management is a win-win for both the hotel industry and also the environment.

Waste management is of significant concern in India, especially as it is overpopulated. About 6.2 million tonnes of wet and dry waste is produced every day. Though single-use plastic has been banned in many states of India, people still use them. According to government data, 0.1 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in India every day. And these wastes are dumped into drains, streets, and landfills. But as every problem has a solution, waste management can also be tackled. So, the government and private entities have implemented specific measures to handle the waste responsibly. One such initiative is providing free meals in exchange for plastic waste.

Here is a sneak peek into innovative ways by which cafes are handling waste.

Ambika's Garbage Cafe

In a cafe in the city of Surat district of Chhattisgarh, called Ambikapur, ragpickers are provided free meals in exchange for plastic waste. A municipal corporation manages this cafe. Every kilo of trash provided by a person can earn them a free meal, and for every 500gm of waste, they are provided free breakfast. An initiative of providing shelter to such people is also planned. The corporation planned these plastic wastes to be used to construct roads; a similar initiative has helped construct roads using eight lakh plastic bags mixed with asphalt. This cafe was inspired by similar cafes in Belgium and Cambodia. In 2015 an all-women waste management system was set up, and they go door to door to collect waste. As a result, Ambikapur is one of the cleanest cities.

Odisha's Garbage Cafe

Inspired by the successful initiative of its neighbouring state Chhattisgarh, Odisha has also implemented a similar plan of action. Similar outlet, where a kilogram of plastic waste can fetch a person a five rupee meal. This initiative has been rolled out under the government's Aahar's scheme and was initiated at the Koraput district by the Kotpad Notification Area Council (NAC). Meals are provided in exchange for polythene bags, plastic bottles, and cups.

Gujarat's Unique Cafe

In Gujarat's tribal district Dahod, free snacks and a cup of tea are offered by a cafe for every one kilo and every half-a-kilogram of plastic, respectively. This initiative also aims to implement Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in villages and initiate a cleanliness drive. This initiative was a success, and a substantial amount of waste was collected and if this successful government plans to start such initiatives in other places of the district too.

Meerut’s Swachhta Waste to Food Cafe

Another interesting cafe on a similar model is Meerut's self-sustainable garbage cafe. It has a unique way of exchanging waste with free meals. Ragpickers are recognised silent warriors of the swachhata mission and are provided free food. This cafe has addressed two issues ailing our country - hunger and waste management - in line with both government schemes: "Fight Against Hunger" and "Swachh Bharat Mission". The cafe also helps manage other kinds of waste such as household material waste such as toys, e-waste, and books. These are then provided for slum kids, helping them get a better standard of living and better education.

Cardboard Cafe

This cafe, situated in the Bandra-Kurla complex with more than 40,000 sq ft in area, was built in seven months with cardboard as the raw material used for all the things - furniture, light fixtures, cutlery. Amit Dhanani, a 32-year-old chef-turned-author, founded the cafe, and Architect Nuru Karim designed it. It promotes vegan food and eco-friendly recyclable material. This cafe was opened to the public on February 3, 2019. Cutting-edge digital designs and fabrication tools were used to design this cafe. The food served at the cafe is also unique, with ingredients, styles, and influences from various sources. Above all, what impresses people is the beauty of sustainable materials used.

Delhi's Garbage Cafe

Delhi also has come up with its own Garbage cafe. Apart from south Delhi, a Municipal corporation park named" Waste of Wonder" is entirely made of waste; it also has a garbage cafe in the Najafgarh zone. Vardhman Mall of Dwarka has started this initiative. This drive was started to make Delhi a plastic-free zone. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided in exchange for plastic. Anyone depositing one kg of plastic would receive a free coupon for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Empty water bottles, plastic canes, cold drink bottles, and other similar articles are accepted. 22 similar cafes were opened in the south, west, and central zones.

Bhubaneswar Garbage Cafe

Bhubaneswar municipal corporation has started its own garbage cafe known as Aahaar centres to prevent plastic waste; they serve food for every half a kilo of plastic waste. This "Aahaar scheme "is implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Garbage cafe is an innovative concept that aims to make cities cleaner and plastic-free. In the near future, more states should adopt this initiative to curb the plastic menace and waste management and help create awareness about sustainable management ways - making recycling and reusing the new mantra.