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Latest innovative technology to collect river waste is now operational on the Mithi River

Posted By : Fiona Fernandes   |   Date : Sep 1 2021 12:58 PM

Latest innovative technology to collect river waste is now operational on the Mithi River

Everyone today is finding new ways to manage environmental challenges. It is in our hands to understand the problems related to climate change and find innovative ways to deal with them at an individual and community level. 

To support such innovation and progress towards circularity, Huhtamaki, a key global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, donated €600,000 to fund the development and piloting of a river waste collector. This was invented by the Finnish cleantech start-up RiverRecycle. The collector is an integral part of RiverRecycle’s solution to solve marine waste, which is one of the biggest global challenges of today. With the support of 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.

“We believe in protecting food, people and the planet. We also believe that cooperation across the value chain with key stakeholders is needed to address global sustainability challenges. If we want to drive systemic change, we not only need to support the development and commercialization of innovation, but we also need the monetization of waste and incentivization of local communities to improve their waste management practices,” says Thomasine Kamerling, Executive Vice President Sustainability and Communications at Huhtamaki.

“When operating in a circular economy, cooperation among different players is fundamental to sustainability. Huhtamaki’s commitment is an example of how collaboration helps solve global problems such as plastic waste pollution," says Anssi Mikola, CEO and Founder of 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. Huhtamaki has also been instrumental in organizing local hands-on workshops on effective waste management and recycling with a view to drive systemic change. The project also provides input to VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on the floating waste and its seasonal variations that can be used to optimize clean-up operations and recycling processes for the future.

“The Huhtamaki funding enables the adaption of optical sensors and drones in the detection of floating plastic objects and differentiation of plastics from organic material. VTT’s contribution also includes pyrolysis test runs and assessing chemical recycling of the recovered plastic waste fractions. At a broader level we aim to enhance circular economy solutions for the global challenge of plastic waste pollution,” says Jukka Sassi, Senior Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.

Huhtamaki aims at having 100% of their products to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2030. Huhtamaki in India has a strength of 16 units where they manufacture high-quality flexible packaging for food, pharmaceuticals and personal and home care products. 

‘’We are excited to be a part of this global partnership and the development of the technology enabling us to clean Mithi, the only river that flows through the heart of Mumbai. This project promotes sustainability with a holistic approach by collecting plastic waste, while also empowering local communities to gain knowledge and employment,’’ notes Sudip Mall, Managing Director, Flexible Packaging India at Huhtamaki.

The Mithi River project is one of three initiatives that Huhtamaki funded as part of its 100-year anniversary to address global sustainability challenges and build and learn from circular economy initiatives globally.

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