Bengaluru Needs a Solid Waste Management Authority

 It is all very well to say conserve water at home, maintain greenery and make compost in your back yard; but it is not as simple as that when you have over a million people living in an urban space. The way solid waste is managed is a management function and hence it is called Solid Waste Management (SWM) and this has to happen in a macro scale. I mean only the solid waste…not conserving water or maintaining greenery. What does our Bengaluru need then in terms of SWM?

 Let us face it – no one wants a compost pit in his backyard. This is the principle of aesthetics a city life is supposed to give you and it gets completely topsy turvy when this activity is thrust on us . Don’t deny this and don’t be hypocritical about it.

 Across the world, solid waste management is an industry. In an industrial scale operation, waste is seen as a resource, irrespective of its end use, whether the management science makes it compost, anaerobically treated methane or just burning it [ sic !!! I am using the word ‘burning’ to excite and titillate the anti thermal treatment disposal practitioners].

 World over segregation happens and the best is about 50%.  The management deals with the rest in what is now the mantra of the industry ‘Resource Recovery’. Yes segregation takes place in our homes but what do we do after that? The same people who cried hoarse over segregation and composting starting maybe a year ago in shrill tones now ask and say our organic waste compost machines don’t produce compost at all. It is just fiber or just matter whose composition has changed but certainly not compost. What must be compost is a good read in this link

 We said this 5 years ago when the compost machines landed in all finery stainless steel to make compost look slick in apartment basements and gated community backyards. Compost is not something you can produce in an urban backyard; it is a scientific process that needs to be done to a scale that controls parameters so that the end product is safe enough to use for agriculture to produce food crops.  By the way no farmer from north, south, east or west of Namma Bengaluru really needs City Gobra. Honestly they know how to make their own in their fields with their own RESOURCE. We have spent amusing weekends seeing the wet-waste-to-farmer practitioners trying their luck with farmers as close by from the city as 30 kms…

 And this comes to question the veracity of the composting arguments in the backyard. What percentage of Namma Bengaluru has that luxury of composting and doing it well in their backyards or basements – barely 5% of this 800 square kilometer city which generates an yet unknown quantity of waste! (really, yes, it is still a yet unknown quantity and composition – the very basis for waste management to work!)

 We need a Solid waste management Authority. A set function that handles collection, irrespective of whether it is mixed or segregated; this resource then needs to be taken to a solid waste management estate, again trasported on scale, separated and processed in the most benign ways that you possibly can. We are a dynamic city, a bustling metro that is ever expanding and changing and so is the waste. It exhibits the very same characteristics of this city – constantly changing and growing. Our city has people disposing at various time zones as that is the character, there is no one disposal window.. and the same holds good for consumption too .. it is totally a unfixed parameter and trends like the changing ads on the billboards of the legal and illegal kind in the city .

 Then is the argument for eliminating plastic bags. At this juncture I think it is an impossibility. Just drop by a super market or mall with a vegetable counter – a 100 grams of tomato warrants a lldpe bag and a bar code sticker and this trend is set my friends and is a hard habit to crack and increasing . The microns story again is farcical one – what does it matter what micron you ban; the higher micron is still evil right?

 Subtly put – is it not time each of us looked at ourselves with our shopping bags in the mirror?  Is not minimization the key, is not frugal living with concern for the fact that you are generating waste a concern? Yes the Plastic certainly is not going to be wished away. We need the most benign methods to dispose it and it is all waiting to be done …ON SCALE.

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