One of my Solid Waste Round Table Management (SWMRT) colleagues told me about an apartment which is getting ready to spend up to Rs 45 lakhs on a certain method for its in situ wet waste composting. In other cases, some companies which have succeeded in installing their 24-hour composting machines in some apartments at the cost of up to Rs 20 lakhs or more are laughing all the way to the bank.
Should a residential community invest so much in composting alone? Are these machines really worth lakhs of rupees as quoted by the vendors? To cut to the chase, does a costlier and fancier solution mean the better for the community?
It is imperative that we ask these questions for one important reason: For some communities, wet waste management is a big headache. They are ready to overpay their contractors to dump it on the roadsides or landfills instead of thinking the available sustainable options through. If you try to convince them, they retaliate saying they can’t spend such a ridiculous sum on composting alone. Fair enough!
Here’s an example: In an email, a budding green champion from HBR Layout wrote to me that her apartment’s management committee is worried about the cost involved as it’s a small community of 55 homes. All her and her husband’s efforts to corral support to kick off waste management (WM) have been in vain.
By going for costlier ‘solutions’, large and high-end communities might end up setting a wrong trend for the entire city.
Is composting a money sink?
It can very well turn out to be one if you refuse to exercise your freedom of choice. The first cardinal mistake most resident management committees make is to go by the builder’s recommendation and adopt the method blindly. In other cases, the residents move in only after the builder’s choice is in place and are in no position to bargain later on. The rest are stuck with living spaces where the builder hasn’t even bothered to carve out a corner for WM, let alone buy a system.
A point to ponder: Real estate builders, in general, don’t give two hoots to waste management. Composting is the last of their concerns. If they put a system in place, that’s only to get a green signal (pun unintended) from the civic authorities to get going with their business.
But those of you who are still doing research to zero in on a system, make sure that you go for one which does not eat into your community’s corpus funds. In general, the composting systems that cost a sum are quite process-intensive and are power-driven. Not only your capex, even opex goes up significantly. Spending a few hours researching the available methods might save you lakhs of rupees.