There have been recycling efforts of one kind or another at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram since 1999. Over the years, the program has enlarged and become more refined. The Recycling Center moved to its current location in 2012 and is a model for all of India and the world.
There are about 4000 ashram residents that live here ongoing, plus thousands of Indian visitors who may come for the day or who may stay for several days. There are also many visitors from the West, some of who stay for months. The number of visitors on a public darshan day may range from 2,000 to 10,000. On special holidays tens of thousands of visitors may come to the ashram. Needless to say, this many people produce a lot of trash.
There are 16 recycling stations set up on the ashram grounds. Residents and visitors are asked to sort their trash, putting each item into one of ten bins.
- Soft Plastic
- Hard Items
- Dust and Hair
- Sanitary Items
- Food Waste
- Garden Waste
- Sharp Items
The bins are emptied once a day. The garden and food waste goes to the Food Composting Center and the rest of the trash goes to the Recycling Center. Since ashram residents and visitors often throw trash into the wrong bins, a group of volunteers does a second sorting outside of the recycling center.
Some of the items may be able to reused. Others can be sold, proceeds going to fund Amma’s humanitarian projects. These items require more detailed sorting. For example:
Paper is divided into ten types.
Soft plastic is sent to a pyrolysis center to be turned into oil.
Hard items are sorted.
This is just a small introduction to the work at the Recycling Center, but I think it is enough for you to see that the process is both extensive and impressive!