30 questions about DWCCs

Bhaskar and I did a survey and study of 32 DWCCs in Bangalore in November 2013. From the survey, the following questions emerge for which we do not have proper answers. We have come to know that at the conceptual stage around 30 crore was planned for DWCCs, of which around 18 crore has already been spent. We request those involved in setting up DWCCs to help us and the public understand these aspects.

What is the purpose of a Dry Waste Collection Centre (DWCC)?

We thought that DWCCs are meant to collect all types of dry waste, sort them further and ensure proper end disposal. They are supposed to take the load off existing landfills by diverting (around 25% ?) segregated dry waste to recyclers. This is meant to amount to the reduction of transportation costs for the BBMP which makes it logical for BBMP to invest in DWCCs. However, from what we have seen, it seems like DWCCs are meant to empower the waste pickers, and in the process, some dry waste is routed to resellers. So here are the questions:

Q1. Is the primary role of DWCCs to ensure jobs for waste pickers, or is it to dispose dry waste in a proper manner?

Q2. What is the capacity of each DWCC?

Q3. What was the due diligence done before investing crores in setting up centres across Bangalore?

How will dry waste come to the DWCC?

The assumption here is that segregated dry waste from BBMP layouts and bulk waste generators (mainly apartments) will be sent to the DWCC. However, we noticed that BBMP vehicles are discouraged at the DWCC, and their primary source of dry waste is from apartments, waste pickers, and a few commercial establishments like bars. The reason for discouraging BBMP autos has been stated as due to low value plastics, non-recyclable items and mixing of sanitary waste. The questions:

Q4. The BBMP Pourakarmikas and Garbage collectors are making efforts to make segregation at source happen in few layouts, but are unable to avoid soiled and low value plastics, and other unaccepted dry waste. So what happens to waste that is segregated to this level?

Q5. Who has to make segregation at source happen in order to have dry waste come to the DWCC? And how is this monitored?

Q6. What is the level of segregation expected at source, and what is the plan to implement it, with timelines?

Q7. What is the plan to make DWCCs run to full capacity?

What are the end disposal mechanisms in place for the dry waste going out of the DWCC?

The general assumption is that the dry waste is further sorted and each item is sent to recyclers. But instead, what we have seen is that dry waste is sent to resellers and there are many items which are of low value which are rejected(ex. Soiled plastics, kurkure packets, PP coating plastics, etc.) and many other items which can’t be recycled (fabric, leather, mattresses, pillow, thermocole, furniture, etc. ). As of now, most end disposal solutions (apart from composting and recycling) are dismissed citing toxic emissions. But, if we look at available recycling solutions, we don’t seem to have any data about the emissions through recycling, or about the quantity of recycled waste. PCB website lists 58 recyclers for plastic containers and 9 for plastic carry bags. There is no information about recycling other items. Also, the emissions from any of these are unknown and PCB refused to share any data with us, compelling us to file an RTI. At present, more than 90% of garbage in Bangalore is going to the landfill. In this light, we have the following questions:

Q8. What are the items that come under the category of Dry Waste? Can we have the exhaustive list of these items?

Q9. Are there any guidelines for DWCCs (people who are operating it) for proper end disposal of the dry waste?

Q10. What are the list of items which can be recycled? What is the quantity of each item generated in Bangalore?

Q11. What percentage of accepted dry waste forms rejects? What are we going to do with the rejects?

Q12. What is the quantity of non-recyclable items (excluding rejects) across Bangalore?

Q13. How are the following specific items recycled – glass, broken furniture items made of wood, mattresses, pillows, leather, fabric, thermocole, multi-layered packaging material and low value plastic?

Q14. When we send it to resellers, how do we ensure they send it to proper recyclers?

Q15. Are there enlisted recyclers who comply to PCB regulations? How many are there and how much load can they handle?

Q16. What are the recycling norms for each item and what are the emissions?

Q17. How is the leftover residual material (usually 35%-40%) from the recycling process handled?

 Economic sustainability?

We have been told that DWCCs are meant to be self sustaining. We have seen that the laborers are not paid salaries by the NGOs or BBMP and are meant to generate revenue from the business. However, almost all are running under loss or are heavily funded by Corporates, like in the case of Saahas. Our questions:

Q18. What is the per kg cost of handling dry waste through DWCC?

Q19. What is the cost benefit analysis of the existing DWCCs?

Q20. Which are the top 5 DWCCs in terms of economic feasibility? How are they sustaining? Please share annual reports.

Q21. When was the last audit done? Where are the details?

Including informal sector?

As a concept, it looks novel to involve the informal sector, mainly waste-pickers as a part of the waste management process. However, in case of DWCCs, the focus seems to have shifted from proper end disposal of waste to empowering waste pickers. Even if you look at it from the Human Rights perspective, waste picking violates basic human rights of ensuring their health and safety, and is worse than scavenging which has been banned. In addition, sustaining DWCCs through waste-pickers works on the premise that we will continue to thrive on blackspots. Aren’t we contradicting our own intentions in this process?

The operational aspects of several DWCCs are looked into by waste pickers appointed by NGOs. Our questions:

Q22. What is the primary data (not secondary data based on UN studies and the like) available about waste pickers in Bangalore?

Q23. How many such waste pickers have so far benefited from DWCCs?

Q24. How many waste pickers collect and deposit dry waste at the DWCCs?

Q25. How many waste pickers are involved in further sorting of the dry waste at DWCCs?

Q26. What is the quantity of dry waste handled by waste pickers through DWCCs?

Operational plan?

Since DWCCs plan to divert around 25% of dry waste from landfills:

Q27. What is the cost involved in setting up this infrastructure?

Q28. What it the time period for making this possible?

Q29. Who has to make it happen?

Q30. What are the operational details of the plan?

Lastly, the popular perception is that when we send our dry waste to DWCCs it is properly disposed. However, DWCCs are not end disposal solutions, but only intermediate collection points where further sorting happens. We are yet to find responsible end disposal solutions for dry waste. We ask these questions because we realize that important questions cannot be avoided simply because we do not have answers. If we do not have answers, then it time we accept it and worked towards finding these answers. 

Link to our study of 32 DWCCs –  https://grasshopperfiles.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/status-of-dry-waste-disposal-through-dwccs/

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