Focusing on the theme, the conference looked at waste conversion from the end user point of view be it an industry reusing the biogas or transport sector consuming the CNG generated or how to reduce the waste generation itself. Both technology and government policies are essential components in the waste C2C cycle.
In his keynote address, Dinesh Jagdale, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy raised pertinent questions — “Can we derive to a mechanism where in energy can be produced from the waste we create? Today, there are technologies/ solutions where one can introduce a very small & compact biodigestors in their apartment or even at bungalows. There is a need for innovation. Everybody is familiar with Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but can we Re-think before it is re-used, can we refuse before it is reused? Can we reduce before it is reused? Can we refurbish, repair, repurpose and lastly recycle? The success of ‘Waste to Energy’ lies on these 7Rs.”
With growing urbanisation, the issue of solid waste management is becoming grimmer. Is the mere announcement of the programmes like ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ enough to deal with the situation? Nivedha RM, founder of TrashCon, a Bengaluru-based start-up, thinks it isn’t. “To attend the goal of ‘zero waste’, micro-level waste segregation and management is necessary,” she explained.
In a quest to make a change, Nivedha’s organisation invented Trashbot, a machine that segregates garbage within minutes. TrashCon came up with a micro-level waste segregator which is economical, easy-to-maintain and provides a real-time solution compared with existing options in the market.
Under the existing system across India’s municipal corporations, garbage is taken to the waste processing plants and after segregation, it is sent to the wet waste and dry waste management centres. The processed waste is finally disposed in landfills. Since the whole process is centralised, there is no monitoring at each phase.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) are generally not segregated at source and are found in mixed condition. Usually the municipal corporation in various cities collect the MSW and transport it to the dump yards and dispose it off in the open ground. This open ground disposal gives rise to Foul smell to the surroundings, infections, uncontrolled methane emission to atmosphere, ground water contamination, frequent outbreak of fire at the dumpsites — emission of hazardous gasses like CO, CO2, SOx, NOx, etc. due to incomplete combustion.
Raising concern on the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Sundar Ilango, Senior Manager, Avant-Garde Systems and Controls (P) Limited spoke about how population growth and steady economic development has been evident to increased waste generation. According to Ilango, the per capita Municipal solid waste generation in India has reached about 0.6kg. He said, “The Waste to Energy (WTE) plants are designed to dispose MSW and to produce electricity as a byproduct of the incinerator operation. They have many benefits to incineration like 70 to 90% reduction in volume of the waste, destruction of toxic materials, recovery of energy from the waste, re-use of some residues and reduces the land, water & air Pollution.”
One of the interesting panel discussions of the conference was on Waste C2C Strategies & Successes ─ Municipal Corporations pave the way Sanjit Rodrigues, Commissioner, Corporation of The City of Panaji, explained, “To deal with waste management, Smart Technologies are available at a click of the button but it cannot be solved so easily. With Panjim, we went for a change…change for mindset, change of attitude, change in the way people perceive waste. Even the administration has to change its thinking process. Today, if Panjim is landfill-free because we have set a parameter first that we will not have a landfill. Secondly, we have removed 1200 bins from the entire city, and this we have managed to achieve with the help of the people. There are no community bins in the Panjim city. We have 100% door-to-door waste collection system. Today, the city is going from four-way segregation to eight-way segregation. We could achieve this not on a day, but this parameter was set 12 years ago.”
He further added, “We have been to residential colonies and even schools, our target audiences are students from standard first-fourth who are not only taught on waste management but also visit our sites. Today, after 15 years, Panjim is successful in managing waste because these people (kids then) were taught about segregation from their early childhood.
“You have to set rules and you have to stick to it, and then adopt the technology that would in a way shape your system.”
Adding his expertise on MSW, Yashas Bhand, Cofounder, Yasasu EMS Private Limited, said, “Regional planning is the key for a successful waste management solution. Integrated models is a successful way forward.”
Dr. Nand Pal Singh, Senior Government Relations Officer, UNIDO addressed on Sustainable Cities – Integrated Approach Pilot (SC-IAP) India. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. The mandate of UNIDO is to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition.
Dr Singh added, “India has urbanized rapidly between 2001 and 2011, the country’s urban population had increased by 91 million. By 2030, India is expected to be home for seven mega-cities with populations above 10 million. More than thirty percent of India’s 1.21 Billion people reside in urban areas and contribute 70% of GDP. Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment and public health. This growth is leading to congestion, lack of basic services, shortage of adequate housing, and declining infrastructure.”
Sustainable and inclusive industrialization of cities provides opportunities for developing synergies, such as decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, while at the same time creating employment and fostering clean energy innovation. Cities benefit from the role of industries in local economic development through job creation and income generation. In industry also lie critical solutions towards limiting the carbon intensity of growth, considering the impacts of its activities as an energy consumer (and in some cases energy producer), major freight transport user, promoter of efficiency and clean energy technologies and solutions, preserver of green cover and implementer of sustainability initiatives. A sustainable city serves the best interests of industry as it benefits from the efficient and peaceful functioning of its host cities.
As the world continues to urbanize rapidly, the importance of shaping sustainable cities has begun to receive widespread recognition. This is particularly true in developing countries where urban growth is relatively high and the existing systems and infrastructure are not sufficient. Estimates show that more than half of the global population currently live in cities, and is expected to reach two-thirds by 2050. This global megatrend of accelerated urbanization, while bringing greater opportunities for growth and human well-being, will increase the inter-relations between cities and climate change. Cities are now the main sources of global greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 80% of global CO2 according to UN-Habitat, while cities are the very ones most vulnerable to climate change. The rapid urbanization will bring more carbon emissions to cities and induce increased urban dwellers, who will be more frequently exposed to climate risks.
Furthermore, UNIDO, as a specialized UN agency for industry, promotes Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) for urban sustainability. Although industry is a key engine of economic growth, the industry sector has been overlooked in sustainable cities as it consumes a large amount of energy and produce high carbon emissions. However, economic growth, supported by industry, is one of the three pillars of sustainability which requires greater consideration. In this regard, low-carbon industries can empower city economy and provide solutions for decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions, while at the same time creating green jobs for youth employment. It is particularly urgent for the pre-industrialized countries to guide the path towards low-carbon industrialization.
Dr Singh added, “All the sustainability issues are interconnected with each other and therefore require an integrated, holistic approach to be resolved. Coordinated sustainable development policies, land use and transport planning efforts, combined with smart policies to promote efficiency in the built environment, offer significant potential. The development of sustainable cities requires integrated interventions in sustainable planning, sustainable investment, and sustainable technologies to cities on the path to low carbon development.”
Food Waste & Role of Technology
Technology plays a role in controlling, reducing, converting and utilising food waste in many ways and at every step, in form of software, equipment, machinery, etc. Continuous efforts by researchers and scientists working on this issue is tremendous and has brought many results
“Food Waste Control and Treatment, are the most important steps that every country city, organisation and citizens must take and make it a practise to follow for betterment of next generation and environment” Meenu Tognatta, Divisional Housekeeper: ITC Hotels
“Ecological impacts of food waste can be reduced by Use of biogas as a domestic fuel in households dependent on solid fuels such as firewood, charcoal, dung cakes, etc., reduces the pressure on local woods and forests and other natural resources.”
There are varied methods of collection and treatment of food waste available and being implemented across the globe. Many verticals of Technology supporting reduction of food waste at many levels Niranjan Khatri, Founder, iSambhav, said “With the threat of climate change at our doorstep and the subsequent impact on monsoon patterns and agricultural output, it is imperative for all stakeholders to mitigate food waste by employing new practices at multiple levels. Food waste management is a complex subject with no easy answers. There are endless ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle your food waste.
By thinking more about the food your household wastes every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the earth’s most valuable resources. Even minimal changes to the way you shop, cook and consume food will help reduce your impact on the environment. With a small amount of effort, you can cut your food waste dramatically, save money and time, and help take some pressure off Mother Nature.”