There is no other way to put it; the Waste Technology Expo 2020 was an unprecedented, success. It attracted crowds that blocked the aisles, garnered interest beyond expectations, and initiated more sales. For the exhibitors, spending three days in the Bombay Exhibition Center with their products was anything but a ‘waste’ of time. While footfalls are a good indicator of a segment’s popularity, they do not reveal which particular products were in demand, or how the industry has evolved in the past year. Read on to understand:
Organic waste converters
While everyone agreed that natural composting generates the best quality of compost, customers from metropolitan cities have certain restrictions: space is scarce, they produce waste in such large volumes that they cannot wait days or weeks for it to be converted to compost, and many residential areas are against the whole concept because of the associated smell. Which is why companies like Netel India are designing and manufacturing automatic waste converters, which were the most popular products at the Waste Expo. Sonali Sawant, Head of Marketing Strategy at Netel, said: “This machine is much in demand in urban areas. In semi-urban and rural areas too, municipal councils are showing a lot of interest.”
According to her, what sets her company’s product apart is that Netel is not a reseller; it manufactures and sells its own product in India itself, and can thus offer warranties and AMCs that reassure customers of the longevity of the machines and after-sales service.
Semi-automatic waste converters, which take less time than natural composting and produce better quality compost than fully automated converters, also evinced keen interest. Sawant said that many enquiries came from dealers and distributors working with corporates who want to spend their CSR funds on setting up converters in tandem with the government.
Waste to energy
It is no secret that the last one year has not been good for those who set up waste-to-energy plants. Avant-Garde, one of the exhibitors at the Expo, established its first plant way back in 2002; it took 16 long years for the next plant to come up. S. Ilango, Senior Manager-Business Development explained the reasons behind this slowdown:
“Unlike conventional power plants, it takes a long time to conceive and execute waste-toenergy plants. On the government’s part, policies which govern this process are vague or undecided. No state in India has any policy about this. Tariff fees need to be negotiated with the electricity board, Viability Gap Funding needs to be obtained from the government, the Pollution Control Board needs to grant environmental clearance: there is no single-window permission available.”
As a result of these inhospitable factors, Avant-Garde, which normally would have commenced civil works at the site within one to two months of the project being assigned, recently started work at a project site one and half years after bagging the project.
But things are picking up, said Ilango. “We now have six projects in the pipeline, one of which will be commissioned this year. More and more people are asking about newer technologies like pyrolysis and gasification rather than incineration. There is renewed interest; the mentality is: if the fuel (i.e. waste) is free, why not set up a power plant?”