Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bangalore Composting - managing wet waste ..

Karnataka Compost Development Corporation plant
The other day I was very excited to visit a wet waste composting unit of Brihut Bangaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) near HSR Layout Bangalore with my old colleague Prof. Raju Gundala. This neatly kept wet waste processing plant has a processing capacity of about 500 MT per day even though there is capacity utilisation of only a fifth, ie. 100 MT per day.

The wet waste from homes is collected on a daily basis by BBMP and is processed at this plant and converted to compost which is totally organic and can be added to plants as fertilizers. The organic fertilisers are beneficial to the plants as well as to the farmer and others handling it. It is being sold to the farmers at the rate of Rs 200-300 per Tonne. If it is to be supplied to farmers at their site, the costs are Rs 800 per tonne.

The plant is one of the largest in Bangalore. Very neatly kept. Felt really proud to see this plant and the committed employees. It is one of the seven plants run by the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation in Bengaluru with a total capacity of handling about 2500 T wet waste daily. Bangalore produces almost 4300 T garbage daily, of which a cool 70% is wet waste.

One of the biggest problems faced by urban dwellers and urban governing agencies like BBMP is how to treat household and commercial garbage.  About 70% of our garbage is wet waste, organic which can be composted and used as manure etc. Was really happy to see that BBMP was taking the lead in carrying out this very important civic activity.

Great work .. One of the compost pits inside the campus .
It is this organic wet waste which if left untreated, on the bacterial activity of decomposing causes over growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, releasing a bad stench and odour, often causing great health hazards to the population living near these dumping areas. In the premises we could get very little odour and it appeared very neat and tidy.

The proactive Karnataka government is about to bring in a legislation that wet waste will have to be processed at home by the public for first time ever in the country. This single step will  daily take out about 3000 metric tonnes of wet waste, roughly 70%, of the 4200 tonnes of garbage produced daily in Bangalore (third populous city in the country after Delhi and Mumbai). 

This otherwise would have gone to landfills in the city, subsequently leeching down to the water table causing irreversible damage to ground water resources .. A bold move if legislated !!👍   Click here for the link ..

Imagine the great business opportunity this opens to the unemployed and semi-skilled people of this country. Rag pickers are the first point of contact for this garbage and if this garbage processing can be made a commercially viable and profitable activity with enough avenues to earn enough income, through classification, segregation and safe reprocessing and disposal, this can definitely contribute to nation building.

Of the 377 million urban residents of the country living in about 7935 cities and towns in the country generate about 62 million tonnes of municipal solid wastes annually, of which only about 43 million tonnes is collected back, about 12 million tonnes (20 percent) are processed and the rest 31 million tonnes (50 percent) is dumped in landfills, causing great environmental problems, health issues and future ground water contamination threats due to leeching from the surface land. (click here for link for more details).

Large blocks of recovered metal at a Japanese waste plant

On closely looking at the data, we find presently in India, only 20% of waste is treated, 50% is dumped in landfills and 30% is lost forever !! Effectively speaking we can convert 80% of this 63 million tonnes, about 50 million tonnes annually into wealth for the country. This opportunity is presently lost for our country.

If we can just concentrate on being able to effectively treat this 50% of waste collected by the municipal authorities, but not processed effectively and dumped in landfills, it can solve a great portion of our unemployment problems.

The promise waste disposal and treatment can also give to the people of the country a healthy and hygienic living environment free of diseases and other natural threats. The potential is great and can contribute in great ways in increasing the employment potential across the country. Public-private participation in these ventures as has been done in Bengaluru, is the solution as government agencies alone can do very less in issues affecting the population.

Turning garbage into gold, the Americas ..
We need to learn from other countries how they have managed to handle their waste and trash. Foe example, how Tokyo manages its garbage most effectively (click here for a report)  and America (click here ..)
There is a gold mine in the wastes in India, 63 million Tonnes generated annually, only 12 million treated rest forgotten conveniently by the civic authorities, the government and the people.. What a CRIME !!

George .. (image courtesy Japan Times)

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