Bangalore’s baby steps at waste segregation

Bangalore, June 6 (IANS) The love Bangaloreans have for their city has not extended to keeping it clear of mounds of garbage. They remain reluctant to segregate waste at the source – a practice followed by people in cities across the world – despite the cajoling and threat of penalties by civic authorities.

A small step, however, is being taken by a section of bulk generators – hotels – to segregate the garbage for turning food waste into biogas.

The quantum to be turned into biogas is miniscule – 250 tonnes per day – when compared to the waste generated – 700 to 1,000 tonnes – by the around 1,500 members of the Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association (BBHA).

The quantum also is negligible when compared to the total waste generated by the city’s nearly 10 million population – over 4,000 tonnes a day.

However, for a city that lived with thousands of tonnes of uncleared stinking garbage for weeks last year and still largely refuses to segregate waste at source, even a baby step in the proper disposal of a small quantity of waste is a big achievement.

The BBHA on May 28 signed a memorandum of understanding with the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or Greater Bangalore City Corporation) and a private firm, Noble Exchange Environment Solutions (NEX), “for scientific waste management of garbage generated by bulk customers”.

NEX would set up at Kannahalli, about 20 km north of the city centre, “a world-class waste processing plant” designed by it and operate it to “convert food waste into compressed bio-gas that can safely replace LPG”, the Pune-based firm’s founder and chief executive officer Nuriel Pezarkar told IANS.

The BBMP has identified the land and would hand it over to NEX in about two weeks after which it would take the firm 12 to 14 months to set up the plant and start operations, he said.

The BBHA members using the NEX facility have to pay the firm between Re.0.90 to Rs.1.65 per kg of waste picked up, depending on the distance to the plant. NEX would provide the hotels with bins or compostable bags to deposit the segregated waste.

NEX pick-up trucks would collect the waste from the hotel’s doorstep at a pre-decided time daily.

Pezarkar said after the successful completion of the first plant, “we are looking to set up an additional three plants, preferably covering all four corners of the city, to ensure waste does not have to travel across the city to reach the processing plant”.

The BBMP-BBHA-NEX tripartite agreement comes amidst the civic body’s continuing campaign to encourage waste segregation at source.

One of the recent initiatives of the civic body to coax Bangaloreans to go for segregation has been through street plays and performances by folk artists at various localities.

This followed the poor response to segregation even after a weeks-long campaign late last year through the media, distribution of millions of pamphlets and announcement of penalties for non-compliance.

Going by the response of Bangaloreans to a sample survey by TERI (Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute) on waste management, segregation at source remains a long way off.

The survey results, which TERI released early this week in New Delhi, showed that of the 401 Bangaloreans whose response was sought on segregation, 44 percent said they were not at all willing to do it and only 11 percent showed “high willingness”.

In Bangalore a “large number of respondents in the age group of 35-44 years (almost 50 percent) have answered that they are unwilling to segregate their waste at all,” TERI said.

TERI conducted the survey concerning the environment in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai on several topics, including waste management, with a total sample of 4,039.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at [email protected])

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