In 2007, Australian sustainability professional, Liz Franzmann, was introduced to Anita and Shalabh Ahuja from Conserve India while lecturing on sustainable events at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. During their conversation a seed of an idea was born: could they promote upcycling by making special products out of Commonwealth Games waste? Although they all went back to their respective lives in Delhi and Melbourne, they remained in contact and the idea stayed with them. In 2010, Liz successfully applied for an Australian Government Endeavor Award to help Conserve India turn the idea into a reality.
Why this project? Why now?
Around the world there is an increasing need to address the environmental impacts of human consumption. Upcycling organisations across the globe are responding to this challenge. Major sporting events are a powerful platform for demonstrating sustainability initiatives to an international audience.
The Conserve Delhi 2010 Project's goals were to:
- create new valuable products out of Commonwealth Games waste – establishing Delhi 2010 as the first Games to upcycle event waste
- enhance Conserve India’s capacity to improve the wellbeing of Delhi’s poorest communities by selling more of their upcycled products
- raise public awareness of waste issues and the benefits of upcycling, particularly at major events.
The successful conclusion of Conserve India’s Commonwealth Games upcycling pilot demonstrated the following:
- It’s possible to upcycle and sell major event waste as products of higher value
- Potential for major sporting events to leave positive environmental and social legacies by working with local social businesses
- Corporate interest in developing product takeback or ‘closed loop’ schemes to reduce environmental and social impacts of their activities in India.
In the end, the project was able to upcycle many of the vinyl banners and PVC billboards from the event and other campaigns. They kept a daily blog about the project, in which they not only reflected on the learnings from the process but used some fascinating tools that represented their personal experiences with the project. The final report with photos is attached to this post. You can also learn about Conserve India on their page in the Upcycling Portal