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Observational study mission on Waste Management in the Food-marketing and processing Sectors, Japan, 4–11 November

11 Nov 2008

This is the full text of an article originally published in The Indian Express, the Indian daily newspaper, on November 20, 2008, written by reporter Jagmita Thind. The article shares the information and knowledge that two India participants, Dr. RS. Saini, and Dr. JK Arota, learn from the APO observational study mission on Waste Management in the Food-marketing and -processing Sectors held in Japan, 4–11 November 2008. We thank the Indian Express for permission to carry the article here. We also thank Dr. Saini and Dr. Arota for their kind efforts for further promotion and dissemination of productivity activities.

Watch your waste! …that’s the message two Chandigarhians are bringing back from a study mission on food waste management held in Japan

We all eat and sometimes we overeat. But more than all of that, we tend to waste food. Remember your last restaurant visit? No one licks a plate clean, there’s always leftover food and no, we don’t really know where it ends up. “In the Indian scenario, it’s usually finds its way into landfills,” tells Dr R S Saini, executive director at the Idma Foundation for Sustainable Development who along with another Chandigarhian, Dr J K Arora, Additional Director at the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology was shortlisted by Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo for a Study Mission on Waste Management in the Food-marketing and Processing Sectors. The two spent close to ten days in early November in Tokyo.

“Though the study mission concentrated on management on food waste but it simultaneously emphasized on the Japanese vision of establishing a sound material cycle society,” informs Saini who was impressed with the number of Japanese laws aimed specifically at waste management. “Unlike India where there is one all-encompassing law, the Japanese since 2001 have put in place a number of laws that also aim at effective use of resources such as ‘Container & Packaging Recycling Law’, ‘Home Appliances Recycling Law’, ‘Construction Materials Recycling Law’, ‘Food Wastes Recycling Law’ and even a ‘Law on promoting Green Purchase’,” lists out Saini who along with Dr Arora took down notes on their study tour that was an eye-opening affair to say the least.

Dr. Saini (L), Dr. Arota (R)

“We were stunned by the enabling approach of the laws,” admits Saini who found that though they included punitive measures, effective market regulations are woven around so that one is encouraged to go for recycling. For example if a food industry wants to throw its waste on municipal landfill it has to pay 55 yen/kg; incineration is now being discouraged and costs about 30 yen/kg; sending your waste to a biogas plant costs Rs 27 Yen/kg. “Further you are given a lot of relaxations in case you send your waste for recycling,” explains Saini.

Impressed with the overall approach to shift to environment friendly lifestyles both at individual levels as well as support from government, the two found it interesting to see parking exclusively for cycles on sub-way metro stations. “People cycle their way to metro, park their cycles and catch metro to go to their offices. The Government strengthens the movement by way of charging high fees on parking of cars,” says Saini who along with Dr Arora cycled around the Imperial Palace on a Sunday. As to what lessons can India learn from a country that’s surging ahead on the Eco route, the two feel it’s imperative to have stricter laws and guidelines. “The cycle has to be made complete by strengthening own systems as well,” he sums up.

Original article in the paper:

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