Author – Rachana Aparadh
Waste disposal is becoming a serious problem across India. Overflowing landfills, leaching of toxic chemicals from landfill sites into ground water resources, emission of toxic gases due to fire, etc. are major concerns. We extract resources from the environment, use it and dump the used material into our garbage bins. In order to make efficient use of resources, we need to recycle and reuse the resources available and make the process cyclical instead of a one-way process. The concept of ‘zero waste’ is becoming prevalent for redesigning of discarded materials and reusing the resources. This environment-friendly approach minimizes the consumption of resources and manages waste using the mantra of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’.
Zero Waste Housing Societies in Mumbai
Various residential complexes and housing societies across India are now adopting the concept of becoming a zero waste housing society. Mahindra Eminente is one such society in Goregaon West, Mumbai that has adopted the zero waste concept practically. The waste generated at homes is segregated at source into three different bins on a daily basis. Around 140kg of organic waste, 20kg of dry non-biodegradable waste and 5 kg of biomedical waste is generated on a daily basis. Organic waste is converted into manure using bio-culture in compost drums. This manure is used for landscape gardens and the leftover is given to residents. Dry waste such as paper, plastic and glass materials are given to private NGOs for recycling and biomedical waste is disposed of by a civic body.
Mahindra Eminente is also into rainwater harvesting and treatment of sewage water. The colony reuses 7.5 million liters of water per year for non-potable purpose and has already recovered 14% of the amount invested in this project. Major share of success goes to the Green Army in this society, mainly consisting of children who initiated and convinced the residents to adopt eco-friendly ways to dispose the household waste.
Vijay Nagar Housing Society is another society in Mumbai that is contributing its part to reduce the burden on landfills. Colour coded dustbins were distributed in the houses with prior instructions for what goes in which bin. The common thread in both these societies was creating awareness among the colony members of Vijay Nagar Housing Society before initiating this good cause. Bio-composting pits were installed behind each building. Wet waste and dry waste are being managed by Aakar Sangathan and Stri Mukti Sangathana located in Andheri. Around 500 kg of manure is generated per month, which is sold in the market under the brand name ‘Harit Vasundara’. Only 10% of society’s waste goes to the dumping grounds, preventing 100,000 kilos of waste that was getting dumped in a year.
Townships in Delhi-NCR
Delhi generates about 9,600 metric tons of municipal solid waste, which is currently collected without segregation and dumped in landfills. The permissible upper limit for dumping garbage at landfill sites is 15 to 20 meters, but landfills have crossed 20-meters long ago. To change this scenario, there is one society in East Delhi that has come up with a zero-waste management plan. Vasundhara Enclave, with help of Delhi Municipal Corporation and an NGO named Chintan, has launched a pilot project in Preet Vihar and if it is successful, it will be launched everywhere else in the city. The pilot project covers 6sq.km area and encompasses 46 housing societies that have a population size of around 50,000. Chitra Mukherjee from Chintan stated that the civic body will provide facilities like land, manpower and equipment in setting-up the model, while the NGO will handle the waste management. Further, an E-waste collection drive will also be initiated by the NGO and sensitize the residents to handle electronic waste in an efficient manner.
This emerging trend of zero waste can also be seen among housing societies of Gurgaon. Nirvana Country, a 300-acre township, is pioneering the concept of zero-waste housing society in Gurgaon. Residents are being asked to segregate waste at source and the use of plastics bags is being restricted even among vendors inside the township. E-waste collection drive is being initiated on every Sunday for residents. The township’s resident welfare association has invested about INR2 crore for a compost and sewage treatment plant. A similar step has been taken by another residential complex named Vipul Greens for converting its kitchen and horticulture waste into compost to be used as manure for its garden area and leftover is sold to farmers at subsidized rates. Rag-pickers are an important part of this project, as they are being employed in this eco-conscious task.
Residential complexes in Chennai
Taking this drive on a wider scale, Chennai would soon become a ‘zero waste’ city with the Greater Chennai Corporation putting serious effort in reducing the waste that ends up in the landfills. Large green compactor bins would be eliminated by handling waste at its origin through proper segregation and recycling of the reuseable material and bio-methanation of organic waste. Ramky Enviro is the private firm responsible for collecting wet waste on a daily basis, while dry waste will be collected on a weekly basis. Recyclables will be recovered by rag pickers from the dry waste, further fine-tuning the segregation process.
The pilot run of this project has been conducted in one municipal ward of each zone and is being gradually expanded across the city.