Swachh Kolar 3: How wet waste is composted, dry waste recycled & sanitary waste incinerated


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Kolar CMC AE Kotreshappa Benni at one of the composting yards in Kolar.

If you have read the previous posts, I guess you will agree with me on this point: Frugality doesn’t necessarily mean lack of efficiency. Conversely, systemic efficiency doesn’t always come with huge spending or foreign technology. Most often, our hunt for solutions leads to divorcing ourselves from the local context and blindly adopting foreign methodologies which often fail to fit into our backyard.

If Kolar has succeeded in becoming a self-sustaining city, that’s mainly because it has evolved contextually by effectively utilising its human workforce and certain quintessentially local and time-tested techniques.

Here’s an account of how the district administration deals with each stream of segregated waste.

Kitchen waste

All the segregated wet waste is transported to four-five open-air composting yards dotted with over 15 piles. When you enter the yard, it may not look all that aesthetically inviting. But remember that it’s the waste generated by nearly 1,50,000 people. Some plastic scraps here and there are unavoidable.

Right after loading the segregated wet waste bins from various collection points, the pick-up vehicles arrive at the spot and the PKs spread the waste neatly on a pile erected on a platform using a rake. Due to lack of humanpower and sufficient water, systematic composting is not happening here. Technically speaking, it’s not even composting. But the mere act of spreading it on the same day and letting it dry in the sun has been working wonders. This single fact is enough to give up all your arguments against the importance of segregation, if you still have any.

Odour issues? Absolutely none! In fact, it made the entire SWMRT study team think hard about all the fuss we make over composting back here in Bengaluru.

Once it reaches a certain height, the piles are left untouched for three months. By then, the dry biomass is ready to be sold through auction. So far, the officials have sold the compost twice at Rs 20,000. The farmers, who buy these piles, remove the plastic scraps, spread the compost in their fields, plough the land and let it “cure” for sometime before sowing.

Speaking of sending precious biomass back to the soil? This is exactly it!

Worried about the carbon:nitrogen ratio, pH value and other essential parameters of this ‘compost’? Relax! Sending out dry biomass back to the soil is a lot better than throwing the precious food waste on the roadsides or dumping it in a landfill. In fact, it’s beyond comparison.

Dry waste

As explained in a previous post, pourakarmikas sell high-value dry waste like high-grade plastic and paper to local dealers right after the pickup. This takes away storage issues. Each dealer sends it to back respective factories as raw material. Plastic bags are banned in the city.

Sanitary waste

The CMC has come up with an ingenious give-and-take policy with hospitals and clinics. “Since we manage their dry and wet waste, they have to be obliging and take away the municipal sanitary waste for incineration,” says Assistant Engineer Kotreshappa Benni. That’s precisely what happens.

Health Inspector K G Ramesh says: “There are three major hospitals and around 80 clinics. All are following segregation rules. Otherwise we don’t pick up their waste.”

A shed where low-value dry waste is stored. Due to lack of staff, this aspect of the waste management has not yet been tackled effectively.

A shed where low-value dry waste is stored. Due to lack of staff, this aspect of the waste management has not yet been tackled effectively by the Kolar CMC.

Inerts

There is a yard with three separate sheds to recycle low-grade plastic and other materials with very low recyclable value. However, due to lack of staff, the sheds are crying for attention. “The PKs tell us that they will take care of it. We are waiting for them to act,” says Kotreshappa with a kind smile on his face. He added that they are working on a tie-up with a recycling firm but the deal is yet to be sealed.

Separate collection from bars & restaurants

The CMC runs a truck that collects glass waste separately from bars and restaurants. While doing so, they also pick up large quantities of non-vegetarian waste generated here and send it to piggeries. They have also tied up with fisheries department for this purpose. Broken glass bottles which can severely harm the PKs are loaded into this truck separately in cardboard boxes.

Look at the humane touch!

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Related posts:
Swachh Kolar 1
Swachh Kolar 2

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