Agra’s decentralised garbage processing plants for bulk waste generators can be a game changer

Municipality established three decentralised waste management plants sustainably managing organic waste generated from 2,000 bulk waste generators

By Kuldeep Choudhary
Published: Thursday 14 September 2023


Waste to compost plant located in Raj Nagar, Agra. Photo: Kuldeep Choudhary / CSE

Waste to compost plant located in Raj Nagar, Agra. Photo: Kuldeep Choudhary / CSE

Agra houses nearly 1.58 million residents within its municipal limits, according to the 2011 census. And Agra Nagar Nigam’s (ANN) official records estimate the city’s current population at approximately 1.9 million, complemented by a daily floating population of a whopping 0.3 million.

The city is strategically divided into four administrative zones — Hariparvat, Chhatta, Lohamandi and Tajganj. Each of these zones is further subdivided into 25 wards, resulting in a total of 100 wards across the city. 

Agra generates a daily municipal solid waste of 916 tonnes per day (TPD) with a per capita waste generation rate of 0.48 kg, according to ANN’s solid waste action plan submitted to the state government.

Source: ANN

The municipal government established two units to manage waste generated from three sabji mandis (vegetable markets) and a plant to manage flower waste generated from temples. The markets and temples fall under the 2,000 BWGs identified by ANN.

These units, dedicated to organic waste, effectively utilise garbage from various sources, including vegetable markets in Basai, Sikandra and Baroli Aheer areas, as well as temples.

Of the three units, the plant near ISBT in Transport Nagar can process one tonne of organic waste per day. This unit is operated by a private player Purna Pro Enviro Engineers Private Limited (PPEEP). The other two plants, located in Raj Nagar, can process 2 TPDs each.

Fruit and Vegetable market Shikandra, Agra. Photo: CSE

While one of the Raj Nagar units is managed by PPEEP, the other is operated by Indian Agro Organics on PPP model. 

How composting works?

First, waste comprising vegetables and fruit residues from markets, along with flowers from temples, are collected. PPEEP employs the processes mentioned below. This entire process takes just 15 days and yields a compost product that constitutes 10-12 per cent of the total quantity of feedstock.

On the contrary, the Indian Agro Organics plant adopts a different approach for flower waste processing.This process takes around 21 days to yield usable compost. It employs the following processes:

  • Pit composting is employed to transform flower waste into compost.
  • Cow dung is used as a covering material for leaf and flower waste.
  • Bio-inoculum is added during the composting process, with regular turning of the waste taking place.

Flower waste to compost plant located in Raj Nagar, Agra. Photo: CSE

ANN uses the compost produced by the decentralised plants in city parks, contributing to sustainable landscaping practices. In addition, compost derived from flower waste has been made available on e-commerce sites Jio-mart and Amazon at Rs 15 per kg.

The plant operated by Indian Agro Organics plant was established by ANN, including infrastructure and machinery. According to the agreement between ANN and Indian Agro Organics, 50 per cent of the net profit is shared with ANN.

Indian Agro Organics has also forged partnerships with 74 temples across Agra. They collect an average of 250 kgs of waste from these temples daily, adding 500 kgs of cow dung for processing.

This results in a monthly production of 1-1.5 tonnes of compost. However, the collection of flower waste is highly variable, depending on festivals and seasons, thereby affecting the quantity of compost produced.

“It is important to note that compost produced from flowers is devoid of contaminants and heavy metals,” said Pankaj Bhushan, environmental engineer, ANN. This compost can help improve plant health, Bhusan added.

The plants operated by Purno Pro Enviro are also established under the GAIL CSR fund. The combined daily waste coming to both plants operated by Purno Enviro is 1.5 TPD, tanslating to 12 per cent (180 Kg per day) yield. This equates to an approximate monthly production of five tonnes of compost.

Compost produced in waste to compost plant located in Transport Nagar, Agra. Photo: CSE

The three waste management plants represent the best practices in Agra. The city is overhauling the systems to efficiently manage BWGs to ensure maximum compliance with the provisions of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the Central Public Health Engineering and Environmental Organization (CPHEEO) manual, 2017.

This can be replicated across the entire city to deal with humungous quantities of biodegradable waste produced, particularly by the bulk waste generators. Moreover, this model can drastically reduce the transportation cost incurred by the municipal government while transferring the organic waste to the centralised facility located in the Kuberpur region.

However, to successfully expand organic processing across the city, end-users’ demand and the capacity to utilise the compost must be considered. The financial feasibility of organic processing infrastructure can be jeopardised in the absence of robust markets for compost.

In addition to ensuring compliance with in-situ organic waste management, ensuring off-take of the compost in local markets and farming communities for greater sustainability is equally critical.

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