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From Waste to Wealth

From Waste to Wealth

Developing nations need to put in systems for efficient sorting of garbage, and differentiation into recyclable and toxic material.

The financial and commercial capital of India – Mumbai city – with over 12 million resident citizens, generates 6,500 tonnes of garbage, in addition to 2,500 tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, on a daily basis. For the last few months, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that is entrusted with the task of garbage collection, has failingly tried to ensure segregation of the garbage into dry, wet and e-waste, by inspiring citizen involvement.

Each household is expected to segregate its wet and dry garbage, while e-garbage centres have been set up in strategic locations in Mumbai city to ensure effective disposal of the same in a scientific manner. While dumping grounds at Kanjurmarg, Mulund and Deonar in the eastern region of the city share the responsibility for disposing of the garbage, intermittent fires that civic officials blame on scrap dealers located around the vicinity of the dumping grounds, pose a serious health hazard. A senior BMC official tells INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY (on condition of anonymity), ¨The Bombay High Court had pulled up the BMC for not implementing the management of solid waste (MSW) rules and for the general lack of a rational plan to process Mumbai´s garbage disposal. The BMC has released the expression of interest (EOI) for issued tenders for setting up three new solid waste disposal plants in the city two months back.¨

The three plants will commence operations with a capacity to process five tonnes of waste each day, which will be enhanced going forward through the use of open technologies, so the best suited and available garbage solutions may be found. The plan was publicised and tenders have been invited for setting up the plants as well as for the operation and maintenance of the facilities for a period of five years. The plants may be used for bio-methanisation, composting and even other methods of waste disposal according to the technology applications, following which the most suited would be incorporated by the BMC for its daily garbage disposal requirements, which would be scaled up going forward.

Confirming these developments, a senior BMC official from the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department says, ¨We are keen to incorporate new age technologies and are in contact with private players who possess the appropriate ability to bolster our garbage processing capabilities.¨

Mumbai´s revised Development Plan 2034 (DP), the blueprint of the city´s development strategy over the next 20 years, that is currently under finalisation, lays an emphasis on the implementation of the MSW rules. The DP plan has planned to use the sorting sheds to serve as neighbourhood segregation points.

The door-to-door collection of garbage, from over 16 lakh households in Mumbai, has still not taken off in right earnest, with the issues of segregation of garbage by households on pain of fines of `1,000, more the exception than the rule for penalising defaulters.

¨While the segregated garbage collection plan is functional, it has seen little progress in a few wards like A, D, R south, R central, R north and the T wards. Of the remaining 18 wards, another five experience a sub 20 per cent collection of garbage from households. The segregation of wet and dry garbage has also seen an increase by 10 per cent,¨ the SWM department official told INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY.

Wastewater Management
Chairman and CEO of the US-based Black & Veatch, Steve Edwards, spoke to INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY on his company´s involvement with the BMC in recent times in the sphere of wastewater treatment, another clear area that needs emphasis in India, considering its depleting stocks of groundwater reserves in recent years. ¨We are undertaking an assignment to develop a feasibility study, conceptual design and tender documents for an 847 million litres per day wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) for Mumbai´s Malad Zone. The scope of the final solution may change, however, because part of the study is to assess the possibility of using space at five satellite pumping stations as an alternative to creating a single, large WWTF at Malad. We are evaluating advanced but proven process technologies as part of this assignment.¨

For developing countries like India, the UN-affiliated Green Climate Fund can be a great source of funding were it to invest in waste-to-energy plants. The investment framework of the GCF is currently being developed where an active point of consideration is regarding the inclusion of waste-to-energy technology projects to receive climate funding as a renewable energy source. India can leverage this finance option for a win-win situation where a garage disposal programme can turn into an energy generation project.

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