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The international airport at Bengaluru (BLR Airport) is the third busiest airport by passenger traffic in the Country, behind the airports in Delhi and Mumbai and is the 35th busiest airport in Asia. It handled over 22.2 million passengers in 2016 with little less than 500 aircraft movements a day.
Sathyabhama Nair, Senior Maintenance Manager (Services) at BIAL, discusses the green cleaning practices at the terminal
BIAL has undertaken several innovative green practices. These are primarily directed towards getting the best out of human resources and effective use of consumables. BIAL has always worked towards sustainable cleaning practices. Optimisation of chemicals has always been a top priority.
The terminal building has a huge glass façade. No chemicals are used on this glass. Instead, the façade is cleaned using RO water. Carbon Tech Poles are used to dispense the RO water. These are lightweight extendable carbon poles that reach up to a height of about 18m. Since RO water is devoid of minerals and salts this leaves the glass residue free, does not attract dust easily and dries up quickly. Initially, it was found that about 80% of the water was being wasted to obtain 20% of RO water. Now a new technology with de-ionisation resin filter has been adopted that gives 100% output of RO water. When the water passes through it, it emerges as 100% RO, free from minerals. This is directly fed into the Carbon Tech poles, and ensures that there is no water wastage.
This year, the department moved towards optimising cleaning agents by using super concentrated chemicals with low dilution ratios. The dilution ratio moved from 10-30ml per litre of water to 3-6ml per litre of water. This not only led to reduced chemical usage but also reduced considerably the waste generated in terms of packing materials.
BIAL has experimented with replacing plastic bin liners in all office bins by placing small metal insert for wet waste. They have done away with the plastic liners completely in office bins. It was found that there is a very minimal wet waste that goes into the bins, like a tea packet or fruit peels. The solution was to have segregation at source. A small slot is provided in the bins for wet waste. This reduced the requirement for small sized liners by 50%. The next step is to introduce fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) Liners for all colour coded dustbins across the terminal building. The liners will be replaced with FRP containers that go inside the bins. Waste from these containers, in turn, goes into a reusable bag. These are polyester bags lined with rubber sheets. The bags get washed and re-used. This is one of the green initiatives in process although not easy to put into practice. It is expected that within two months these new bins would be rolled out across the terminal.
In the urinals, the plan is not to go completely waterless. Water is still used, but in non-peak hours the water is shut off, and screens are installed as an odour-control measure. The screen also acts as a splash guard, minimising cleaning around the urinals. It has been observed that passengers in washrooms are in a hurry to use the facilities to board, so they have been given the choice of water and soap, soap and a hand dryer or hand sanitizer. This reduces crowding at wash basins. Since Airport washrooms are relatively clean, most passengers are content to use just the hand sanitiser (which is also available at the boarding gates). This model has been replicated in the staff washrooms as well. At these washrooms, one recurring problem is the misuse of paper towels. While staff are encouraged to have clean hands, it is also important that they do not misuse the resources provided. Accordingly, they have been provided with sanitiser, soap and a good quality hand dryer. This cuts down the usage of paper towels.
Poly carbonate Vacuum Masking Cup is used to cover up Urinal and W/C sensor during deep cleaning. This eliminates chemical wastage due to auto flushing initiated by motion sensors of urinal and WC.
The Airport was designed as a green building; it is a Greenco Platinum rated company. All processes are designed around sustainability and minimisation of the effort on part of the staff working in the Terminal. For example, in washrooms, with the high number of footfalls, the cleaning staff can get highly stressed. The Airport has set a target of “a clean cubicle for every passenger”. To that extent, they have designed Quick Cleaning Kits, designed to ensure that the passenger gets a clean cubicle and the staff can avoid having to exert themselves with a trip to the janitor’s room each time to fetch cleaning materials. The kit has a small squeegee, a spray can and three microfiber cloths – carried by the staff around their waist tucked into a belt. The aim is to make the staff more efficient but not to reduce or optimise manpower. This is because the washroom staff serve not only as cleaners, but also as guides. They play an important role in dealing with first time travellers, those unfamiliar with washroom etiquette and in the event of accidents like slippage and sickness.
The Department was given an award by GreenCo for reduction and optimal use of pesticides. Biological controls are used to ensure that the larvae do not moult into the next stage. This is achieved by using though a BTI tablet (Bacillus thuringiensis) acting on the gut of the larva to block the synthesis of a protein required for moulting. Pest control is mostly based on monitoring rather than schedule based pesticide treatment. This ensures responsible use of pesticides keeping in mind biodiversity, user health and the environment.