Haridwar and Rishikesh, India

Aviral - Reducing Plastic Waste in Ganga

The Aviral pilot programme is tackling plastic waste in India’s holiest – and most polluted – river at source, creating alternative pathways for used plastics in the cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, and offering a waste management model that can be scaled across north India.

URL has been copied


By increasing the collection and processing capacity for plastic waste, and taking a hands-on approach to education against open dumping, Project Aviral is helping to clean up India’s most sacred – and most polluted – river, starting in the city of Haridwar.


Haridwar and Rishikesh, India


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


- Households with first time access to waste collection: 517
- Households with upgraded access to waste collection/recycling: 3,868
- Increase in source segregation: from 1% to 70%-85%
- No. of waste workers trained on safety: over 350
- No. of informal waste workers with improved income/working conditions or social benefits: more than 500
- No. of clean ups: 19, with 916 participants at waste hotspots, collecting 10MT of waste
- No. of residents impacted: over 31,000

Securing a Cleaner Future for the Ganga

Where unsorted waste once languished in open dumpsites, residents of Haridwar, a major city on the banks of India’s Ganga river, now separate their household waste for collection and transport to a newly built materials recovery facility, and from there, onward to recyclers.

For Alliance and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the success of Project Aviral — Reducing Plastic Waste in the Ganga goes beyond a single city, setting a positive precedent for the entire region.

Sitting on the right bank of India’s holiest river, Haridwar is a popular pilgrimage site, its population of over 460,000 swelling by millions each year as it plays host to a constant stream of devotees and tourists. Used plastic bottles, bags, and other debris routinely left in their wake were simply collected by the municipality and disposed – untreated – in dumpsites. Leakage into the environment was common, with plastic waste often making its way into one of the most revered – and polluted – rivers in the world.

Project Aviral aimed to stem this leakage through a comprehensive approach beginning with a detailed baseline assessment and waste characterisation, whose findings fed into an action plan developed collaboratively with the municipality. This was followed by knowledge transfers and training to secure institutional support, and a broad-based educational and awareness campaign.

These efforts added momentum to existing efforts by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (Namami Gange) and the Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Mission).

Central to the project’s success was community engagement. A household survey found that most were aware of the need to segregate, but did not because of the lack of separate collection bins. Once the bins had been installed – green for organic waste, blue for recyclables, and red for hazardous waste – the next step was to make residents aware and encourage participation.

A pivotal engagement point with the community was through ‘Chai pe Charcha’. Small gatherings of mostly women, typically over a cup of tea, were found to be one of the best ways to foster responsibility and awareness. By the end of the pilot in June 2023, up to 85% of households in nine pilot wards separated their household waste, a massive increase from less than 1% at the start of the project. This included several in nearby Rishikesh.

Aviral simultaneously developed step-by-step guidelines for event organisers aimed at reducing the amount of waste at temple Bhandaras, festivals and other public events that the city plays host to.

Since Haridwar did not own an operational waste processing facility, a small-scale, semi-automated MRF was developed in the city, with the potential for its capacity to be increased through physical expansion or multiple work shifts, if necessary.

In line with the larger aim of serving as a blueprint for similar facilities in Uttarakhand and India, the MRF reflects best practices for technological set-up and occupational safety. It has already prompted visits by decision makers and stakeholders from both state and national level.

A range of reports have also been developed to provide comprehensive information on implementation approaches, best practices, and learnings, and to enable replication of the project's most effective approaches in community-led waste management.