City lad’s effort to treat food waste gets featured on the National Geographic


PUNE: Pune-based Priyadarshan Sahastrabuddhe who has initiated an ambitious project ‘Vayu’ has not only resolved the problem of wet waste in the city but has also encouraged employment opportunities among the youth by generating fuel from the waste. His work is now being shown in the ‘One for Change’ series on the National Geographic Channel. This is the second time that his project has received international attention.

Observing that environmental conservation is a critical issue faced by modern society that takes time to get resolved, Sahastrabuddhe, who holds an engineering degree and a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai initiated the ‘Vayu’ project to create a new model of sustainable development.

‘Vaayu’ is a biogas technology/process that aims to empower common people to make their own energy from local biomass resources. It works to convert the food waste without crushing it into burnable methane gas, which can be used as cooking fuel. By training waste pickers to operate and maintain the system, the team envisions transforming their role into energy suppliers. This will give them an opportunity to earn ten times their livelihood with dignity along with solving the food waste problem at the source.

As about 2.5 tons/day of food waste is managed at the source, Vaayu saves around 3,000 cylinders worth of LPG per year and offsets 125 tons of fossil carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2021, the project won the Green Skills Innovation Challenge organized by US-based Ashoka Changemakers in association with HSBC for which Priyadarshan received a grant of USD 20,000/- for further research and expansion. Since then, his work has been consistently covered in various media forums.

Recently, in recognition of his work, the National Geographic Channel has aired a separate episode on Priyadarshan in its series ‘One for Change’, based on individuals who have made significant contributions to environmental conservation. In this series, 20 ‘Change Makers’ have been selected and their work has been presented to the world.

Speaking on the achievement, Priyadarshan said,

“The ‘Vaayu’ project is proving to be very useful in solving the problem of wet waste as well as changing the nature of employment of waste pickers. I am happy that this project is being recognized globally today. But I think that more citizens, societies or business establishments should become self-sufficient in energy production. It is necessary to implement this project on a large scale at the local level and for that the government should take the necessary steps.”


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