With segregation and composting, communities in Bengaluru are successfully making their surroundings zero-waste zones. Sadashivnagar, LIC Colony in Jayanagar and Ferns Paradise – a gated community near Marathahalli – shared their stories at ‘Love my city; manage my waste’ – an event on community composting held by waste management solutions company Daily Dump on February 20th. Citizen Matters and Apartment Adda were partners for this event.
Working together, these communities have minimized waste, turned waste into resource and in the process, help BBMP garbage contract workers earn extra money.
Green Diamond, Diamond District complex, Domlur
With a dozen active volunteers, the Green Diamond Project collects segregated waste from 917 apartments and a number of offices with 3000 employees, since December 2009. They have managed to collect 3 tons of dry waste and earn about Rs 12000 every month from the dry waste.
Shalini Khanna Charles, one of the volunteers leading the project, said, “we are now working on installing a bio gas plant for the organic waste”.
They started with a three month groundwork learning from other initiatives, took a loan from Rotary club for the project start and identified the right vendors. Their innovative campaign included posters around the complex, giving free bins and carnivals and contests. They also motivated the collection team with public recognition, monthly parties, health/safety measures and incentives.
Inspired by this, residents at Platinum Eco Drive, Yashwantpur, have managed 90% segregation in their community within a month and recycled 10 tons of dry waste in 6 months. They have earned Rs 40,000 so far.
Brigade Millennium, JP Nagar
Dry waste segregation was introduced in Brigade Millennium Mayflower in Nov 2008 through the ‘Blue Drum’ campaign with door-to-door visits to train residents, segregation guide, training of maids, house-keeping staff and security and painting the blue drums activity for children and residents.
Arathi Manay Yajaman said they collected over 7 tons of dry waste and made around Rs 1000 per month. The main roadblock was the trash chute, which was treated like a roadside dustbin by residents, for ‘Anything-anytime-anyhow’ disposal.
They also started composting wet waste as pilot project which was successful. Unfortunately due to some residents objections, this could not be rolled out. Currently some residents voluntarily give wet waste (edible by cattle, like vegetable peels) to a nearby cattle shed.
The waste management team says with Brigade builders having earmarked a site that can be used for waste management by all the blocks of Brigade Millennium, they will be able to handle the waste where it is generated.
Leaf litter composting
Meenakshi Bharat and Vani Murthy of Swabhimana explained how leaf litter from gardens and on the roads can easily become mulch and compost.
Leaves (without any plastic or paper) are crushed and piled into heaps on top of a wooden frame, covered with coconut gari (pleated coconut leaves), for aeration). Mixed with some dilute cowdung slurry, and covered with daily moistened jute cloth, the leaves turn into soft black compost in a couple of months.
This reduces valuable leaf matter, generated in bulk in the city streets from filling up landfills, where they can cause methane emissions.
Poonam Kasturi of Daily Dump then introduced their elegant range of leaf composters which can store large quantities of leaves which can be mulched over a few months.
Sada Zero, zero waste programme in Sadashivnagar:
Since the last five months, nearly half the residents of Sadashivnagar are segregating dry waste. Around 400 residents are part of the programme – they separate dry waste from wet waste and further segregate dry waste into plastic, paper and e-waste. Segregated waste is collected once a week, monitored by a volunteer. Each street has a volunteer to maintain the lists of houses that segregate, remind each house to dump their waste on collection day. While e-waste is collected by Ash Recyclers, paper and plastic waste is collected by BBMP workers. They further segregate the waste in 10 categories (according to quality) and sell them at the local paper mart.
“BBMP contract workers are supposed to be paid around Rs 5000, but are paid only Rs 2400 per month. They work 10 hours a day, seven days a week without any leave or benefits. Earlier each of them earned about Rs 200 per month extra by segregating dry waste themselves from the mixed garbage, now each person earns about Rs 1000,” said Sumir, part of the team of 30, who spearhead the programme. There are plans to include 400 more households in segregation and to start wet waste composting as well.
Ferns Paradise, gated community in Outer Ring Road:
Here residents manage both wet and dry waste. Segregation started here in January 2009, when a private agency collected waste door-to-door and started segregating. The plan was to segregate and compost wet waste at home itself, with the support of the NGO Saahas and Daily Dump. Anjana Ghosh, a resident who promoted wet waste composting, says, “We went door to door to convince residents. Around 30 residents started segregation with DD, a few found it difficult to manage and discontinued. But around 25 residents continue to compost.” Support staff at the apartment is employed to maintain the compost in individual apartments. “For those who compost at home, the amount of waste going out is very low. Other residents find this interesting; there is renewed interest in composting now,” Anjana says.
LIC Colony in Jayanagar:
Residents here have converted area behind their BBMP ward office into segregation centre. The project which started last October, has a BBMP contract worker collect dry waste from about 100 houses. As in the case of Sadashivnagar, the worker segregates further and earns money by selling dry waste.
“One kg of plastic fetches her Rs 4, while a kg of mixed dry waste fetches Rs 1.50. Weightwise, about 70-80% of waste from apartments is only plastic,” said Hamsa Ravikiran, who is part of the initiative. Wet waste goes to BBMP’s landfill itself. E-waste is given to the NGO Samarthanam, which has a centre in Bannerghatta for segregation and disposal.
Management of waste in offices was another focus of the event. Two NGOs – Waste Wise Trust (WWT) and Saahas – which help offices manage waste, spoke about their work.
Waste Wise Trust (WWT):
WWT collects segregated waste from offices, apartments, institutions etc. in its own trucks. At the segregation centre ‘Land Lab’, the waste is sorted – dry waste is recycled, organic waste is composted and used for urban agriculture and gardening; hazardous waste is given to professional dealers and the rest is dumped in landfills.
Waste is collected six days a week and nominal charges are levied for workers’ wages, transportation and disposal of waste, says Anselm Rosario, Managing Trustee of WWT. The company works with vendors of bio-gas plants and modular STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants) to compost organic waste.
“Commercial establishments can reduce carbon footprint, get certifications and some revenue by segregating waste. Companies like RMZ, Raj, Wipro etc are using WWT’s service now,” says Rosario.
“BBMP spends about Rs 160 crore a year to collect and dump waste. This huge waste of money and pollution of peripheral areas of the city can be reduced if everyone adopts segregation and composting,” he says.
Saahas collects organic and recyclable waste from companies and recycles/composts it. While some companies working with Saahas opt for sending the organic waste to piggeries or compost with DD (Microsoft, Texas etc), others use organic waste converters (GE, Divyasree Tech Park). Saahas has also set up a tank composting facility for SBI office in St Marks road. Composting is done within the compounds of the offices themselves and the compost is used for landscaping or gardening.
“Tech parks with 7,000-10,000 employees produce 4-5 tonnes of waste, while single companies with 3000-5000 employees produce 1-2 tonnes of waste. We are trying to reduce the use of paper cups in companies as these cups do not fetch value in recycling,” says Padma Sastry of Saahas. Many companies are still reluctant to start waste management due to cost of the programme, lack of space for composting and unwillingness to change, said Padma.