The city has developed some remarkable models, for managing waste from bulk generators
Urban India generates 50% to 60% organic waste, and an efficient management strategy can resolve more than half of the Solid Waste challenges in India in current era or urban governance. Producing bio-fuel from organic municipal solid waste could be an alternative approach to convert municipal solid waste (MSW) as a source of renewable energy and also provide a sustainable solution. Recent developments on bio-fuels bring rays of hope for greener future particularly in the context of fast declining non-renewable energy reserves and deteriorating global environment. If these small scale efforts are community driven, participatory and decentralized in nature, it adds more value to the technology and human connects, helps city governments to save considerable amount for collection and transportation and can divert wastes from going to the landfills.
One of the objectives of visiting two facilities in Gurugram on 15th of November, 2023. by the Minister for International Development, Norway, Ms. Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, her Political Advisor, Senior Advisor, Head of Communications, the Ambassador of Norway to India Ms. May-Elin Stener along with her secretary Filippa Brårud and Ms. Beate Langset, Counsellor, Climate and Environment Cooperation Section in the Norwegian embassy was to oversee the progress of achieving ambitious ‘zero waste’ status of the city by adopting sustainable waste management methods by the bulk waste generators.
The Government of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Norway to cooperate on cleaning oceans and developing the blue economy. The first delivery under the MoU has been the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, for which a letter of Intent has been signed between the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC), India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Norway. The initiative aims to support the Indian Government in preventing and reducing marine pollution from both land-based and offshore activities. This initiative focuses on the impact of India’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022, and also supports the Clean Seas campaign. As part of the Indo-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), is implementing a project titled, “Mainstreaming Circular Economy in the Waste Management Sector in India”. As part of this project, Gurugram was adopted as one of the deep dive mission city, where CSE aims to impart knowledge, build capacity and support with appropriate research for assessing the current situation with clear recommendation to the Municipal Governments to help the city take the right actions in the path of circularity through sustainable measures.
Amidst challenges in the whole system and concerns with regard to performance of the private service provider, the city has been able to create some astonishing models, especially to manage the waste from the bulk waste generators and have been able to showcase as replicable models that involves champions from community.
Due to space constraints, five Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHS) came together, lobbied with the city government and managed to get a space where they have established a composting plant in a cluster mode to process the biodegradable waste coming from 319 households with a capacity of treating 300 kg organic waste per day and the dry waste is going to the authorized waste collectors.
A group of volunteers among the residents took charge of spreading awareness to secure source segregation. Despite challenges, they have been successfully running the plant with the help of an empanelled private company called Balancing Bits for 4 years in a row and have been able to divert 16 tons of organic waste from going to the landfill every year.
This could be a replicable model where not only solidarity and cohesiveness among different community members was noteworthy, but also inspirational for the bulk waste generators in other Indian cities with space constraint. The mandate of in-situ management of bio-degradable waste by the bulk waste generators came into force in 2016 upon notification of the Solid Waste Management Rules. Many large housing societies having space constraints to setup a facility for managing biodegradable waste were actually built way before 2016. It is thus advisable to the cities to learn from this model for addressing the bulk waste generators with space problems.
The delegation of the Norwegian government along with members of CSE, Saahas and Balancing Bits at decentralized waste management plant. Photo: CSE
The facility has a design capacity to process 3 tons of biodegradable waste per day, of which 2 tons is processed through biomethanation and the remaining 1 ton is processed through aerobic composting method. The biogas produced here is converted into electricity through biogas Genset which again is utilized to meet the energy requirement of the entire plant. The facility is also capable of handling 5 tons of non-biodegradable waste through a semi mechanized Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The MRF will be operational soon once the machineries are installed. This plant will be able to mitigate 4 million CO2e emission per year by treating 1095 tons diverting the same from going to the landfill. In future, the plant envisages to sell a share of the surplus biogas generated to a nearby hospital kitchen to generate revenue so that the system sustains financially.
The Norwegian delegation found the learning experience extremely useful and the Minister has applauded the model of small and medium scale initiatives co-created by Municipal Corporation Gurugram with active support from Saahas, a very reputed civil society organization in the sphere of solid waste management in India. She admired the efforts of the communities in both the locations stating how efficiently they have influenced and changed typical waste behavior of the people to create beautiful, decentralized models of waste management. She also opined that these models are doable and could be inspirational for so many nations in global south and north who are striving for a sustainable solution to institute circular economy. While sharing her experience in public domain, Hon’ble Minister, on behalf of the entire delegation, wrote in her Instagram Handle “Biofuel, that replaces fossil fuel is one of many measures that could contribute to a green transition, if done correctly.”
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