Community composting method-5: Sudh-Labh means low investment & Rs 6.15 monthly outgo per home for 100 units


Sudh-Labh aerobic digesterNo major infrastructure, no fancy paraphernalia and no high-sounding claims.

For my case study, the destination was Sovereign Park, Basavanagudi. It’s a 23-year old, 40-unit apartment which does efficient segregation at source. It has outsourced secondary processing of dry waste to Sudh-Labh. They chose the same firm to compost their wet waste sometime in August.

Once at the spot, it took just a little while to understand the simple process and trace the origins of this rather simple design—the firm’s mentor Teejay Jayaraman’s expertise in “frugal innovation”.

A structure that breathes

Put succinctly, Sudh-Labh mimics composting process that happens in the natural environment. Instead of heaping it up in the open, you are simply layering it in a more methodical fashion inside this digester to bring out the compost as quickly as possible.

This method is aerobic. It has a simple above-the-ground rectangular box-like structure with 4.9 ft x 6.5 ftx 5.5 ft (1.5m x 2m x 1.68 m) dimensions with its walls made of FRP sheets. On all the four sides, the walls are riddled with holes to let the air in. The top is left uncovered. Four perforated pipes jut out of the digester—taking the hot air out from the composting mass and letting fresh air in, simultaneously. Two hatches (openings) at the bottom—front and back—have been provided to take out the mature compost. It has a section in the bottom to collect the leachate dripping down from the digester. Interestingly, since August, just one bucket of leachate has come out from the entire organic mass.

The digester needs to be installed under a roof to protect it from rainwater. To make things easy, the company is contemplating a detachable roof as an option to those who prefer keeping it out in the open. A step-up stool, a plastic tub, a rake and a couple of other basic tools are part of the package.

The capacity

The digester can hold 500 kgs of waste, in all. That means, a 100-strong community will need only one digester to process all its kitchen waste.

Power & water consumption

Sovereign Park was not keen on investing in a shredder as the waste quantity it generates is very less (15-18 kgs per day) and that takes away the pressure to produce compost in an expedited manner by using a shredder. Water consumption is almost nil as the water content in the kitchen waste and EM solution are enough to keep the process going.

The process

This digester takes in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian waste. When starting the first batch, four blocks of cocopeat (which need to be soaked in water and then crumbled) have to be spread evenly at the bottom to absorb leachate. This needs to be done only for the first batch. Spread a layer of kitchen waste and add a layer each of dry leaves and saw dust on top of it to absorb extra moisture. Once in a week, sprinkle neem powder and 250 ml of effective micro-organisms (EM) solution and microbes powder—both manufactured by Daily Dump. All these ingredients are essential to control malodour, insect and flies and to speed up the process.

The next day, before adding the fresh waste, use the rake to turn the mass to aerate it and repeat the process of adding kitchen waste, dry leaves and saw dust.

Daily routine: Kitchen waste + dry leaves + sawdust. The next day, rake up the material and repeat the process.

Once-in-a-week routine: Sprinkle neem water + EM solution + microbes powder.

Gopinath C R of Sovereign Park, who heads the management committee, says: “This is an easy and sustainable process and not power-driven.” When asked if they were planning to buy a shredder, Gopinath added that the digester was quite sufficient for 40 homes. “We are fine if it takes a little longer to bring out the compost. It’s better than investing in a shredder which is no small an amount for a small community like ours.”

Odour issues

None

Output and quality

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(From L to R) Mythili Ramaswamy, Gopinath C R and Chhaya Shanbhog are the green warriors who have turned their community into a self-sustaining one. Gopinath’s concern for the deteriorating living conditions in Bengaluru due to the worsening garbage crisis is particularly heart-warming. To speed up composting in his community, there are times when he chops large banana stems into smaller pieces and puts them in the digester. The trio is all set to leave behind a wonderful legacy for the future generations of their community. Doing case studies such as this one opens up opportunities to meet such wonderful souls.

The first batch always takes longer—10-12 weeks. Thereafter, the compost can be drawn out through the hatches at the bottom whenever it is done. “The variety of the brown material loaded with carbon (dry leaves, saw dust and cocopeat) and nitrogen-rich kitchen waste brings about a balanced carbon:nitrogen ratio,” says Vasuki Iyengar of Sudh-Labh.

The best feature

In my view, design is the best feature of this product. You don’t have to invest in another digester to let the compost mature in the first one. You just keep taking out the mature compost from the bottom hatch even as you go on adding fresh waste on the top. What more, it handles a large quantity of waste coming out of a maximum of 100 homes and consumes very little space.

If you decide to invest in a shredder, that will shorten the turnaround time and also bring out fine manure. Unshredded waste is slow to break down no matter which method you use and the output will be a little chunky and leafy. Once sieved, you will get a considerable amount of semi-done reject which has to be put back into the digester for further processing.

The cost

Let’s calculate both one-time and operational cost (per month) for a 100-home community. The digester costs around Rs 40,000, a one-time investment. That means, Rs 400 per household.

The break-up of the operational expenditure/month:

  • Cocopeat blocks: 25 kgs, twice a month: 50 x 6/kg = Rs 300
  • Neem powder: 1 kg = Rs 40.
  • Sawdust, 2 sacs: Rs 60 x 2 = Rs 120.
  • Daily Dump EM solution, 1 litre = Rs 65.
  • Daily Dump microbes powder, 2 packets = Rs 45 x 2 = 90.

Total monthly outgo: Rs 615. That means Rs 6.15 per household for a 100-unit community.

That works a treat, doesn’t it?

Thus far, I haven’t come across a method that is this cost-effective.

Contact details

Sudh-Labh, No. C-3, 906, L & T South City, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560076, Phone: +91 98456 90778. www.sudh-labh.in.

21 thoughts on “Community composting method-5: Sudh-Labh means low investment & Rs 6.15 monthly outgo per home for 100 units

  1. Thanks Ms SH for the article.
    M/S Sudh-Labh is pioneering in low-cost efficient processing of waste and Sovereign Park is happy to participate with them.
    Three months of participation indicates that the process is efficient, clean, odourless and do-able.
    First powdery compost yield was after 3 months.
    Such blogs should encourage residents to handle kitchen and house waste without queesiness.
    May Bengaluru regain its clean name again. Start your WM today !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr Gopinath,

      It was a pleasure meeting you all. And thank for you visiting ‘Endlessly Green’. It’s an honour to have readers like you. 🙂
      May Sovereign Park lead the WM campaign in Basavanagudi and beyond.

      Good day,
      Savita

      Like

    • Hi Soumya, Mr Vasuki Iyengar will be answering this query soon. He was saying that he hasn’t come across the issue of rats climbing up the digester so far. I leave it to him to give you more details.
      Thanks. 🙂

      Like

    • Hi Soumya, In all the installations, we have not seen any rodents climbing into the bin. The doors are always kept closed using the tower bolt and they are opened only to retrieve manure. We have seen existing rodents running around on the ground, but have not seen them inside the bin. If the digester is kept in a well lit area, it reduces the chances of rodents as well. Thanks 🙂 .

      Like

  2. From Sov. Park project. As V.I. said, rodents were / are present in the building, but not seen in the WM processing bins or area. Maybe it is the neem powder that is repulsive. Surprisingly no flies either, which had us worried. No odour at all. If either the bin or the area is covered, scavenger birds are also kept at bay. We should exchange every bit of info or experience gathered in this work. Ms Hiremath can help.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Savitha,
    Your writeup on Compost implementation of SudhLabh at Sovereign Park is extraordinary.
    Quickly you walked us through the Science & art of the Composting journey at Sovereign Park. Kudos to all the great minds at SudhLabh for their expertise & passion on a cleaner society.
    Kudos to the Sovereign Leadership team to have started this Waste Management Initiative with Sudh Labh and succesfully implemented.

    Warm Regards,
    Malathi

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent idea with detailed write up! I think this could work well in my apt too, but we have very limited open space. Can the digester be set up in a lesser space? Also, does the unit require any timely maintenance? How many people would be required to work on this? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anupama, It depends how many units your apartment complex has. Each Aerobic digester can suffice wet waste generated from 100 units. I agree many apartment complexes do not have dedicated Waste Mgmt area. However, all we need is an area of about 250sqft. This can also be installed on terrace with a covered temporary roof.

      This setup does not require any electricity, no shredding (unless you need the compost faster than 10-12weeks). All that needs to be done is to spread the wet waste evenly as a layer and add some accelerators and cocopeat / sawdust. This is a very manual process hence, we would need one house keeping staff spending about an hour everyday including secondary segregation. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks a lot!
        We are society of 220 houses. On an average 130Kgs of wet waste is generated everyday, which I think is massive. Can this be accommodated in one digester? Will it be a good idea to set up multiple units, in terms of maintenance?
        Also, is there chances of weeding inside the block, as the cocopeat is also used sometimes as medium to grow plants?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Anupama – You will need Sudh-Labh’s 2 digesters, each can accommodate waste generated from 100 units.. The first batch of compost takes about 10-12weeks, after which the extract will be weekly / bi-weekly. Hence, for a community of 220 flats we would definitely need 2 digesters. We have not seen any weeds inside the digester. However, cannot take away the possibilities, but the person who is maintaining the digester while layering waste and accelerators can always remove if there are any. Also, the temperature inside the digester would be about 120-140 fahrenheit which would also take away the possibility of weeding.

          Please share your email address and we would share details of the aerobic digester and the local composting process.

          Thanks,
          Shravan

          Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Manan,

      There are solutions for all sizes of apartments. I request you to read the entire Commnunity Composting Method series and decide for yourself which one suits you the best depending on the budget/space you have. More methods will be discussed in the coming weeks.

      Thanks. 🙂

      Like

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