Showcases successful implementation of :
- In-House, Do-It-Yourself Waste Management Model in a Large Spread Out Residential Colony
- 3 Way Segregation of Household Waste following the 2 Bin 1 Bag System
- Semi-Mechanised, Community Composting Solution using Rotary Drums and Metal Composting Bins
Watch this short film to see how the Nirvana Country residential community in Gurgaon has taken responsibility for the waste it generates.
Nirvana Country is a large township in Gurgaon city in Haryana. It is spread over 135 acres with 900 homes and 16 community parks. This detailed case study discusses the following aspects:
Waste Segregation System in Nirvana Country
- 3-way segregation of household waste plus e-waste management
- Pilot for waste segregation and learnings thereof
- Challenges faced during the awareness campaign and learnings thereof
Community Level Composting System in Nirvana Country
- Process of aerobic composting using rotary drums and metal bins
- Standard operating procedures followed
Size and dimensions of the rotary drums and the metal composting bins
One time set-up cost & monthly maintenance cost for this Do-It-Yourself system
Impacts of Nirvana Country’s Waste Management Initiative
Huge quantum of waste kept away from the landfill
Nourishment of the soil by the rich compost created from the food and horticulture waste that the community was throwing away earlier
- Better recovery of recyclables
- Responsible recycling of toxic electronic waste
Cost reduction in horticulture spend
Nirvana Country Waste Champion’s Advise to other Communities
Awards and Recognition received for its Waste Management System
DETAILS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
- Number of households: 900
- Flats or independent houses: Independent homes with private gardens
- Location and address: Sector 50, Gurgaon – 122018, Haryana, India
- Contact name and email id of waste champion in the community: Ms. Monika Khanna Gulati, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW DID THE IDEA GROW?
Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion from Nirvana Country says, “I think the motivations were many. We had so much waste that was being dumped and burnt outside Nirvana causing ill-health to the elderly and the children. A few residents left our township and city because their children and family members were suffering from severe bronchitis and other health issues as a result of rampant burning of waste. We realised that as a large community consisting of 900 families, we needed to take responsibility for managing the organic waste (food waste and horticulture waste) generated within our township.
Also, a few of us in the community who had starting composting our kitchen and garden waste at home felt strongly that we did not want to see our community waste this precious resource which makes such lovely compost to nourish our soil.
Our Resident Welfare Association (RWA) was very supportive and decided to fund the community level waste management initiative. The brief from the RWA was very clear. They wanted a waste management system for our community that would be simple to operate, economically viable and sustainable in the long run. They also needed a system which if required to be moved due to some unforeseen reasons, should be easy to relocate.”
WASTE SEGREGATION SYSTEM IN NIRVANA
Nirvana Country follows the popular 2 bin 1 bag system (http://www.2bin1bag.in) for 3-way segregation of household waste. In August 2016, all the residents were given 2 small bins for kitchen waste (green in colour) & reject waste (red in colour), 1 additional bigger size green bin for the garden waste and 1 reusable bag for the recyclable waste from the homes. The bins and bags were funded through CSR support organised by the Nirvana Country RWA President. From November 2016, segregated waste began to be collected from most homes in Nirvana Country.
How the Segregation System Works in Nirvana Country?
Small green bin is used for the compostable kitchen waste – All the food waste from the kitchen (vegetable & fruit peels, egg shells, meat bones, tea leaves, coffee grounds, left-over cooked food items like rice, roti, bread, biscuits, vegetables) is put into the small green bin, ideally without a plastic bin liner. This food waste is used as a resource to make high quality compost.
Red bin is used for the reject waste – All the rejects such as household sweepings; chocolate and toffee wrappers; chips packets; sanitary waste in the form of baby and adult diapers and women’s menstrual pads; bio-medical waste in the form of bandages, soiled cotton; dog fur, bird droppings etc. go into the red bin. This waste which forms about 10-20% of the total waste generated cannot be recycled or composted and so has to be sent to the landfill.
Bigger green bin is for the garden waste like leaves and twigs generated from the home gardens of the residents.
Use of plastic liners in dustbins is strongly discouraged – Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion from Nirvana Country says, “Regular messages are sent out to the residents through the community google group to remind them of the ill effects of using plastic bags to collect their segregated waste. Many residents have come on board and have completely discarded the environmentally unfriendly practice of lining dustbins with plastic bin liners. But many residents still find it difficult to let go of this habit. As eco-team members, we continuously make people aware about the hazards of plastic bin liners to our environment.”
Reusable bag is used for the recyclable waste – Everything that can be recycled such as paper & cardboard (newspapers, magazines, paper bills, pizza boxes, cardboard boxes, egg boxes etc), metal (aluminium cans, cheese tins etc), plastic (shampoo and liquid soap bottles, oil containers, milk pouches, all plastic jars and packets, take away food containers etc) and glass bottles are collected in a reusable bag by the residents and given to the waste pickers everyday or as and when they have a sizeable collection. This recyclable waste collected by the waste pickers is sold by them to add to their meagre income. Some residents choose to sell their recyclable waste to the kabadiwallas directly.
Residents are advised to wash and dry the recyclable items that contain liquid or solid food such as plastic milk pouches, cooking oil containers, cheese tins, take away food containers and then store in the recyclables bag so they do not smell or attract bugs. This also increases the recycling value of these waste items.
Electronic waste like old batteries, bulbs, wires, mobile phones, chargers, laptops, televisions, microwaves, geysers, air conditioners etc which contain toxic materials such as mercury, lead that are very harmful for human health and the health of the environment, are stored separately in each home. This toxic e-waste is given to an authorised, government approved e-waste recycler once every two to three months. Residents are informed about the e-waste collection drive over the community google group and through whatsapp messages.
Drop box for e-waste has been placed near the RWA office in case somebody wishes to drop their electronic waste especially bulbs between the collection drives. The drop box is also used by the Nirvana Country in-house staff to dispose of the spoilt bulbs and electrical parts.
Plastic Bottle Crusher (Reverse Vending Machine) has been placed near the RWA office. It was placed free of cost by a NGO Earth Initiative. The crushed plastic waste is taken by the waste workers to Gem Recycling to be recycled. The waste workers sell this waste and earn some money out of it.
Pilot for Waste Segregation and Learnings Thereof
There are 5 residential blocks in Nirvana Country. A pilot for segregation was carried out in October 2016 over a period of one month from the waste collected from one of the blocks having 155 homes. After one month, segregation was announced pan Nirvana in November 2016 and then segregated waste was picked up from all the residential blocks.
Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion from Nirvana Country says, “The initial one month of pilot testing helped us understand the challenges faced in waste collection, routing process and drop-off at the community composting site. It helped us to understand how the waste pickers would keep different streams of segregated waste in their cart and whether it would take longer for them to pick up the segregated waste from each home. Initially, the waste pickers spent a few extra seconds to load the segregated waste outside each home but over a period of a few weeks, they became more efficient and faster with the collection process. Though the design of the cart was not very conducive to carry segregated waste, the waste pickers rose to the occasion and did small ‘jugaads’ on their carts to ensure that they were able to carry the waste without mixing it up. Extra bags were added to the existing carts to carry the segregated kitchen waste and dry recyclable waste. The reject waste was loaded at the back of the cart.
For the garden waste kept in the big green bins outside every home, it was decided that it would be collected by a tractor trolley which went around the colony everyday to collect horticulture waste from the streets and the community parks.
We are really glad that we did the pilot as it gave us insights to figure out the solutions to all the issues before we scaled up our operations. Time management, system management and control of processes came after studying each of the problems and working around them.”
Awareness Campaign for Waste Segregation
Target Audience – Residents
No outside agency’s help was taken to run the awareness campaign for waste segregation. It was mostly carried out by the resident volunteers. Most of the eco-team volunteers were members of the Nirvana Green Hands Group – an eco-conscious residents group focussed on home composting and organic gardening.
- A google group connecting the residents in Nirvana Country played a very important role in the awareness campaign. The eco-team volunteers had started the sensitisation process of the residents a year before by sharing examples of best waste management practices and the disadvantages of mixed waste going into the environment through whatsapp messages and emails. As a result, by the time the segregation drive was launched in November 2016, 70% of the residents were already quite aware of the need for waste management and segregation at source.
- The RWA office also sent out notices to bring the residents on board.
- For over two months, the housekeeping supervisor walked along with the waste pickers during the collection time to talk to each and every home about the 3-way segregation process.
- Segregation messages were printed on invoices, Diwali tickets and other such things to serve as constant reminders.
- The residents were free to connect on email or whatsapp or phone to understand the process if in doubt.
Target Audience – Horticulture and Housekeeping Staff
Orientations were held for the horticulture and housekeeping staff in order to sensitise them on the subject of waste segregation and to the problem of waste mismanagement in the city. The estate manager, housekeeping supervisor, waste pickers and all the housekeeping staff were briefed continuously to ensure that they understood the processes correctly. They were encouraged to ask questions and clear any doubts during their briefing sessions.
Target Audience – Domestic Help
Segregation posters were put on and still flank the grills of the guard huts at the seven entry gates and the waste pick-up carts as a daily reminder to the house-helps. Domestic help orientations are held periodically to ensure 100% compliance of the 3-way segregation process.
Challenges Faced in Implementation of Waste Segregation and How They Have Been Overcome
Challenge 1 – Complexity of Size and Spread of the Residential Complex
Nirvana Country is a large community spread over 135 acres. So, initially monitoring and control over processes and systems especially collection and transportation of segregated waste was a challenge.
Addressal of Challenge 1 – Whatsapp group with various stakeholders was created consisting of eco-team resident monitors, RWA members, administration staff and housekeeping supervisors. Daily reporting on weight of kitchen waste collected from each residential block was shared. Issues needing attention were shared and resolved on a daily basis.
Challenge 2 – Ensuring 100% Segregation
Initially, many people failed to comply in giving out segregated waste. With no pressure from the RWA or the government, it was easy to get away with not having to segregate.
Addressal of Challenge 2
- A Residents’ ‘Segregation Inspirers’ Team consisting of 8 resident volunteers was made. This team went in pairs to meet the residents of the defaulting homes which failed to segregate and engage with them. Most often the results of this one on one engagement process were positive and the residents changed their behaviour and started giving out segregated waste. As Nirvana Country is divided into 5 residential blocks, the resident block champions spread the word and ensured participation from their blocks.
- In the first few months of launching the segregation drive, regular monthly reports were shared on the google group which mentioned the levels of segregation achieved, amount of compost generated and amount of waste kept away from the landfill to give the residents a sense of pride in what the combined efforts of the community was achieving.
- The google group was also used to mention the homes giving out segregated waste and thank them for the same. This worked well to inspire those who were not segregating to start participating in the community initiative.
- Nirvana Country Residents Eco-Team after 2 plus years of implementation of the waste management initiative has been suggesting to the RWA to put a ‘No Segregation, No Collection Policy’ in place whereby if the residents do not segregate their waste, their waste would not be collected from their homes and they would have to drop it on their own at a designated place. This would help in achieving better results.
Challenge 3 – Continued Use of Plastic Bin Liners in Dustbins by Some Residents
Many people had an issue in ‘not using’ a plastic bag to line their bins for the kitchen waste and the reject waste. The challenge being to wash the bins on a daily basis.
Addressal of Challenge 3
- Impact of using bin liners was shared with the community. 900 homes using 2 bin liners meant that 1800 plastic bags were being sent out on a daily basis contributing to the plastic menace in the city. Sharing numbers and impact made a huge difference and a lot of people stopped the use of bin liners.
- Residents were and are continuously encouraged to use a smaller container for keeping their food waste as a smaller vessel is easier to wash and rinse.
Challenge 4 – Understanding Rejects
Addressal of Challenge 4 – Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion from Nirvana Country says, “Everybody could understand wet waste and dry waste, but we wanted to urge them into the third line of segregation – that of ‘rejects’ – to uphold the dignity of the waste pickers, so that they do not have to rummage through the diaper and sanitary waste to salvage the recyclables. Communication with a special focus on items constituting reject waste was shared and is continuously shared with the residents through the community goggle group for the benefit of tenants who keep moving in and out of Nirvana.”
Challenge 5 – New Residents Coming and Going
Since tenants keep coming and going, sharing of knowledge and waste segregation system with new residents was a challenge.
Addressal of Challenge 5 – The supervisor and waste pickers have been empowered to ensure that new residents are informed about the three-way segregation practice. The waste picker carts also display the segregation leaflet on them prominently. All the entry gates in the township have the segregation leaflet displayed very prominently. There are large banners on each gate which talk about the waste segregation process and that Nirvana has no tolerance towards plastic bags.
Challenge 6 – Waste Picker Motivation
The waste pickers collecting segregated waste and the karamcharis / housekeeping boys working on the compost plant directly are very important links in the smooth operation of waste management. A high rate of attrition was noticed in this rank.
Addressal of Challenge 6 – To keep them motivated, a system of awarding the best waste picker / housekeeping staff for the month was introduced. This practice has helped in making them feel appreciated for the work they are doing. They have started taking pride in their work which has really helped in boosting morale. Usually a senior citizen or a prominent member of the community is invited to address them. Their names and photos are shared on the google group to give them an identity beyond that of a ‘waste picker’ or ‘karamchari’.
Learnings from the Awareness Campaign for Segregation
In the words of Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati:
- A unified system of communication like the google group and whatsapp group. It made dissemination of information and best practices really easy.
- Thanking specific homes by mentioning the house numbers on the google group for giving segregated waste also helped in providing motivation and inspiration to others to participate.
- Information dissemination on the gates with the help of banners also helped to spread awareness.
- Getting resident eco-team champions from each block to talk to their neighbours worked very well too.
- Formation of the Residents’ ‘Segregation Inspirers’ Team consisting of resident volunteers who went in pairs to meet the residents of the defaulting homes which failed to segregate helped to get these residents on board.
Collection Process of Segregated Waste from Homes
In the first two years of operation, the community did not have extra funds to buy new carts to keep segregated waste. The waste pickers however were extremely ‘jugadoo’ and streamlined their carts in a way to accommodate different streams of segregated waste. The management has now invested in new carts which have different bins for rejects, kitchen and recyclable waste.
COMMUNITY LEVEL COMPOSTING IN NIRVANA
Along with segregation, full scale composting operation for the entire community started in November 2016.
Semi-Mechanised Community Composting Solution Adopted Using Rotary Drums & Metal Bins
Nirvana Country is a large community of 900 homes with a huge amount of horticulture waste generated. After evaluating many semi-mechanised community composting options available for large communities throughout the country, the RWA with a core group of eco-team residents decided on a system using rotary drums and metal bins.
- Nirvana Country RWA bought 5 rotary drums (each having a capacity of 2000 litres) and 12 metal composting bins to manage the kitchen waste from 900 homes along with the horticulture waste generated within the community.
- The RWA also decided on using a food waste shredder and horticulture waste shredder to crush the large quantities of waste so as to fasten the composting process.
- Rotary drums and the horticulture waste shredder were bought from a Pune based vendor, Myco-Compost.
- The vendor got the 12 metal composting bins fabricated from Gurgaon.
- The food waste shredder was given free of cost by the vendor.
Koustubh Yadre of Myco-Compost had many training sessions for the horticulture staff and the housekeeping staff. The housekeeping staff working on the compost plant along with the supervisor were trained by him for a period of 5-6 weeks. He continuously monitored the plant till the first round of compost was ready. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) were set along with the residents’ core eco-team and shared with the supervisor and housekeeping staff.
The housekeeping supervisor overlooks the entire waste management operation in the community on a daily basis. A total of 4 workers are required to carry out the composting operation in Nirvana Country – two workers work on the community composting site and another two help with the handling of the horticulture waste which happens at a different site.
Rationale for Choosing the Community Composting Solution
Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati says – “Our RWA wanted a composting solution which was affordable in its capital and recurring cost. Also, they wanted a system which was simple to operate and sustainable in the long run where our community would not be burdened with rising monthly payments to a vendor. This system of ‘drums and bins’ suited the community’s budget and space constraints and could be operated by the community’s own in-house staff. We also wanted a system which was as close to the natural process of composting so as to keep the carbon footprint and the cost minimal. As part of our research on sustainable community composting solutions for large communities, we came across Myco-Compost from Pune. Due diligence was done by a core team of residents who spoke to the vendor’s existing customers across the country. However, we did not get a chance to see any projects live as they had no clients who had bought from them in any of the cities in the National Capital Region.”
Process of Aerobic Composting using Rotary Drums & Metal Bins
Horticulture waste management
Nirvana Country is spread over 135 acres with 16 community parks and 900 homes each having a private garden, so the amount of horticulture waste generated is huge. Garden waste kept in the big green bins outside individual homes; leaves, flowers and twigs fallen from the bushes and trees on the streets and in the public parks across Nirvana are collected daily by a tractor trolley and taken to the horticulture waste management site where the dry leaves are first sorted from the branches. The leaves are left to dry and used when they turn brown. A huge quantum of the dry leaves are used in the community composting process along with the food waste from the homes. Then the leaves are shredded in the horticulture waste shredder, stored in large recycled sintex drums and transported to the waste composting site for regular use.
Leaves which are not used in the community composting process are left to compost in an empty area of the community, creating nutrient rich leaf mulch. Deep trenches are dug and all the horticulture waste is just buried. Over a period of a year, it gets composted on its own making the soil there extremely fertile. By composting all the horticulture waste, the community has ensured that it is not dumped outside and burnt somewhere adding to the air pollution problem in the city. The bare branches are left for the workers across Nirvana to collect and use for firewood in their homes.
Process of secondary segregation and shredding of food waste
Once the segregated kitchen waste from all the homes is brought to the composting site, a process of secondary segregation is carried out by the housekeeping staff to remove any foil, plastic or any other objects that might have been accidentally left in the food waste. Kitchen waste is then put through the food shredder to reduce the surface area of the food in order to fasten the composting process.
First stage of composting takes place in the rotary drums
In the words of Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati, “The crushed food waste is put in the large rotary drums. Each rotary drum has a capacity of 2000 litres. On a daily basis, each rotary drum can take a maximum of 120 kg of kitchen and horticulture waste combined. Nirvana Country generates about 450 kg of kitchen waste everyday from its 900 homes. This is divided in all the 5 rotary drums. So roughly about 90 kg of kitchen waste is put into each rotary drum everyday. To balance the high nitrogen content in the food waste, carbon in the form of dried shredded leaves is added in equal or more proportion, according to volume. In the summer months, ratio of kitchen waste to horticulture waste is kept at 1:1 (in volume) – to every 1 bucket of kitchen waste, 1 bucket of horticulture waste is added in the rotary drum. However, in the winter months, this ratio of kitchen waste to horticulture waste is made as 1:2 (in volume) – for every one bucket of kitchen waste, 2 or more buckets of horticulture waste is added. This is done as the composting process slows down in the cold weather so more leachate is produced than in the summer. So in the winter, more leaves are added and that helps to resolve the issue. Irrespective of the season, it is important that once the waste is rotated in the drum, the mixture of food and horticulture waste looks dry and homogeneously mixed like ‘bhel puri’. The waste mix in the rotary drum should not be too watery or moist otherwise it could possibly create leachate and smell issues like in any other composter. If the waste mix seems too moist, then we just add more shredded leaves.”
I gm of bio enzyme powder is also added to each kg of the food and horticulture waste mix in the rotary drum to introduce more microbes and fasten the decomposition process.
Rotation feature in the rotary drums
The drums are rotated once or twice everyday for about 5 minutes for the air to be circulated inside. Rotation is important in aerobic composting, as it prevents the waste pile inside the drums from compacting, becoming anaerobic and smelly. The rotation feature in the drums also helps in the movement of waste from one end to the other. However, occasionally the housekeeping boys need to chip in to move the waste pile forward.
Second stage of composting takes place in the metal composting bins
Loading capacity of the metal composting bins
Each bin takes close to 2.5 tonnes of waste when full. It takes about 5 to 6 days for one metal bin to fill up. In one month, approximately 6 metal composting bins are filled up week after week. In the second month, the semi-composted waste taken out from the rotary drums is put in the remaining 6 metal bins. At the end of the second month, the compost is ready in the first few metal bins that had been loaded in the beginning and is taken out. And the process of loading the first set of bins is started again.
Time taken for the total composting process in different seasons
It takes about 5-6 weeks in the warmer months for the compost to be completely ready before it is given to the residents and used in the community parks and green areas. In the winter months, the composting process gets a bit slower and so the compost takes longer to get ready – about 7 to 8 weeks.
Advantages – Composting using Rotary Drums & Metal Bins
In the words of Nirvana Country Waste Champion, Monika Khanna Gulati:
- Each rotary drum has a capacity of 2000 litres which means that it can hold a large amount of waste. It would be very difficult if the housekeeping staff had to rake such a huge quantity of waste manually to air it. So, the rotation feature in the drums makes the aeration easy and the process time and labour efficient as one housekeeping boy just has to rotate each drum for 5 minutes twice in a day.
- This is a very neat, clean and odour free process of community composting as the rotary drums prevent any smell from going out and the waste pile attracting any flies. This is a huge advantage for Nirvana as the composting site is located in the playground where all the children come and play and multiple sports happen there. So, nobody is disturbed by the waste solution being there.
- Minimal leachate issues – There isn’t a lot of leachate that comes out from the rotary drums. Only when the semi-compost is taken out from the other end of the rotary drums and transferred to the metal composting bins, there is leachate that comes out for 1 or 2 days which gets dried up quickly. There tends to be more leachate in the months of December and January as they are the coldest months of the year in North India and the moisture takes some time to dry.
- Community composting using rotary drums and metal composting bins gives huge flexibility if there is need to move the location from one place to another. Since nothing is fixed to the ground, the equipment can easily be moved if required.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Regular training of housekeeping staff is done to ensure that they:
- Carry out a proper secondary segregation process to take out any plastic, foil, glass pieces put into the kitchen waste by mistake.
- Understand the importance of putting shredded leaves in equal or more proportion along with the food waste according to volume to maintain the proper Carbon:Nitrogen (Green:Brown) ratio.
- Add the bio enzyme powder in the required quantity everyday to the food waste so as to add microbes and fasten the decomposition process.
- Understand the loading and unloading process in the rotary drums and metal composting bins properly.
- Rotate the rotary drums everyday once or twice a day for 5 minutes to ensure that the waste pile gets aerated so there are no smell issues because of compacting.
- Follow the SOPs in terms of maintaining proper system of aeration, moisture level, raking the waste pile in the metal composting bins to ensure that the heat spreads uniformly etc.
Regular surprise checks and audits are done by the eco-team resident volunteers. The team is open to feedback and observations from the larger community. All concerns are addressed and progress proactively monitored.
Space Used for the Composting Operations
- One rotary drum occupies roughly 5 feet by 10 feet of space for basic operation.
- The total area where 5 rotary drums and 12 metal composting bins have been placed along with the area required for secondary segregation and food waste crushing is about 200 square yards. Nirvana Country has a lot of open space but if space was limited, the entire composting operation could easily be carried out in 120 square yards.
- The total area where the dry leaves are stored, crushed and final compost is stored is about 240 square yards. In the case of Nirvana Country, space has not been an issue. The same operations can be done in much lesser space where space is limited.
Size and Material of the Rotary Drums
Dimension of each rotary drum: 1375 mm diameter, 1340 mm height, 5 mm thickness
Motor for vessel rotation: 5HP 3-Phase, Heavy duty geared motor
UV protected roto-moulded HDPE plastic vessel, with insulation foam material. Rested on rubber coated rollers with heavy duty fabricated frame.
Dimensions of the Metal Composting Bins
Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika says, “The Pune based vendor Myco-Compost from whom we bought the rotary drums got 12 rectangular steel wire mesh bins of 10 feet long, 3 feet high and 3 feet wide (10 x 3 x 3 feet) fabricated for us from Gurgaon. Height of the bin was kept at 3 feet so that raking can be done easily. For handling large quantities of waste, bins with rectangular shape are better as they occupy less space as opposed to circular bins where there is loss of surface area on the sides. The powder coated MS fabricated bins are lined with shade net cloth” The cloth mesh allows aeration without exposing the pile too much to the natural elements and is cheap to replace if the rodents eat the same. But over time, we plan to move to metal wire mesh since there is an increasing rodent problem.”
Total Capital Cost i.e. one-time set up cost – Rs 10,50,000
- Cost of 5 rotary drums, horticulture waste shredder and 12 composting bins – Rs 8, 50,000/- inclusive of taxes and transportation cost (Pune to Gurgaon). Cost break up: In 2016, the cost of each rotary drum was about Rs 1 lakh. The metal composting bins costed approximately Rs 12000/- per bin and the horticulture waste shredder costed about Rs 80,000/-
- Cost of infrastructure at main composting site – Rs 2,00,000/- (concrete flooring for secondary segregation and food waste shredding area, tin shed covering rotary drums and food waste shredder, electricity connection for food waste shredder)
Note – Additional cost of infrastructure at horticulture site (electricity connection for waste shredding and storage room) – Rs 2,00,000 /- In case of Nirvana Country, space is not an issue and so the horticulture site is at a separate place. Otherwise the horticulture operations can easily be carried out at the main composting site where the kitchen waste is being processed.
Low Monthly Running Cost for the Community Composting Operations
- No additional labour cost for managing the composting operations – As the community housekeeping boys are involved in running the composting operation, labour cost is already covered in their regular housekeeping payments.
- Consumables (bio enzyme powder) – Rs 5000/- for 1000 kg of enzymes. I gm of enzyme is used per kg of waste.
- Electricity cost is minimal (for running the horticulture waste shredder and food waste crusher).
There is no annual maintenance cost for rotary drums, horticulture waste shredder etc. Oiling of the rotary drums is done in-house on a weekly basis.
Feedback on the Vendor
Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati says – “To take care of Nirvana Country community’s waste, initially the vendor recommended a 10,000-litre single drum. We went ahead and ordered in spite of this being the vendor’s first experiment with such a large size. Unfortunately, the single large drum did not work out as it cracked. The vendor said that they would replace the drum with smaller size ones. In the meanwhile, we kept composting our community’s waste using pits. After a few weeks, Myco-Compost gave us five 2000 litre drums at their own cost. Nirvana Country RWA had to incur no extra cost for this replacement. We have been using the five rotary drums since February 2017 and they are working well. The drums need to be be oiled regularly and gears checked for slipping. This is part of routine maintenance that is carried out at the composting site by the Nirvana Country in-house staff.
More details on the installation from the vendor’s side would have definitely helped but our in-house team of engineers pitched in to ensure that the new rotary drums were installed correctly. We continued to improvise and work on the system till it started giving us optimal results. We are happy that we brought in a community composting system in Gurgaon which had not been tried and tested in the National Capital Region before.”
Replication of this Community Composting Solution using Drums and Bins
This system can easily be adopted by any small (100-200 homes) or large community (maximum 2000 homes, provided they have the space to put the drums and the bins) or any organisation like a school or an institution wanting to process its food waste (cooked and uncooked) and horticulture waste. One rotary drum occupies roughly 5 feet by 10 feet of space. It can be used along with one or 2 metal composting bins in a small area for smaller communities (100-150 homes).
IMPACTS OF THE NIRVANA COUNTRY WASTE MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE
Huge Quantum of Waste Kept Away from the Landfill
- Nirvana Country collects about 450 kg of segregated kitchen waste everyday from 900 homes, so the segregation efforts of the community saves more than 1,60,000 kg of kitchen waste from going to the landfill every year.
- An equal amount of recyclable waste is sent out yearly for recycling.
- Over 1 tonne of electronic waste is collected and given annually to government approved recyclers to ensure responsible e-waste recycling.
- The huge quantum of the horticulture waste generated is composted in-house ensuring that the leaves are not thrown outside and burnt adding to the pollution woes of Gurgaon city.
Creating Wealth Out of Waste
Nirvana Country generates about 30 tonnes of compost a year. Most of the compost is used in the 16 public parks all over the township. The residents are also given 12 kg of compost free every year to use in their home gardens. If residents have a requirement over and above this, they buy it from the RWA office.
The community got the in-house compost tested from the government recognised Indian Agricultural Research Institute (PUSA lab) in Delhi. The normal parameters that have been checked for the compost sample are as follows: Ph, EC, Carbon, Nitrogen, C:N ratio, Moisture, Phosphorus and Potash. The report says that compost sample is normal. All the parameters are within range or close to range. The compost test report is as follows:
Environmental Benefits of the High-Quality In-House Compost
Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati says – “In 2017 and 2018, the compost generated from the in-house composting process was used twice a year in all the 16 public parks and the common 24 metre road used as a thorough way in Nirvana Country. The high-quality compost has resulted in aerating and nourishing the deficient soil. Our soil has become more porous and we have noticed that it’s ability to retain moisture has increased. The plants look happier and green areas lusher as compared to earlier.”
Cost Reduction in Horticulture Spend
The 16 public parks in Nirvana have been getting a generous dose of the compost round the year and the in-house compost has also reduced the cost burden on the horticulture team to purchase compost from outside. This has given them more flexibility as they are no longer dependent on budgets and approvals from the RWA.
Waste Workers Earn Better While More Waste Gets Recycled
The waste pickers get to sell the dry waste and keep the proceeds. It adds to their meagre earnings. More importantly, three-way segregation process ensures that there is better resource recovery of different streams of dry waste such as paper, plastic, metal and glass which go back into the recycling stream.
Collective Social Responsibility
Most residents of Nirvana Country have risen to the occasion and participate whole heartedly in giving their segregated waste. Nirvana Country Waste Champion Monika Khanna Gulati says – “By taking responsibility of the waste around us and minimising it at source by ensuring that most of it gets composted and recycled, is a wonderful way for a community to show its commitment to the city and its environment. We have also been able to nourish the land which is public land outside Nirvana and turned it into green spots. The compost stops dust from flying around and this results in mitigation of air pollution due to dust. Compost helps to bind the soil, retain water and nourishes the plants. Over time, soil needs less water. This is helpful considering that Gurgaon’s water table is going down by 5 feet every year and we are sitting on the brink of acute water shortage in our city in the future. ”
Doing regular plantation drives inside the complex where the children and adults plant saplings using the compost made in-house has helped to increase awareness and a sense of pride amongst the community members for using their waste to create wealth in the form of compost.
Reduction in Black Spots around Nirvana
Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion Nirvana Country says – “Our community has inspired other communities in the vicinity to also manage their waste responsibly. Moreover, as our mixed waste is no longer dumped outside, the ambience around Nirvana is clean and dumping and burning of waste has been hugely minimised.”
ADVISE TO OTHER COMMUNITIES
In the words of Monika Khanna Gulati, Waste Champion Nirvana Country:
- I personally feel no matter what community composting solution you adopt, there has to be a keeper of that solution – somebody who is the guardian ensuring that the solution is working properly and the SOPs are being followed (it could be one person or a team). The champions can be RWA members or resident volunteers who ensure that all the Solid Waste Management Guidelines of the Government of India are being followed and consistently aspire to better their system, ensuring more and more waste gets composted and recycled rather than being sent to the landfill.
- Sometimes it is not an easy task. Staff changes, residents change. Some residents will not cooperate or the RWA may not support you. It is important to keep equanimity against all odds and build a group of like-minded people which looks for positive solutions for all problems.
- ‘Celebrate Compost Days’ should be added to the calendar of activities for the community. It could be on Earth Day, World Environment Day or on Independence Day or any other day when people are invited to come and feel, touch and use the in-house compost in the common areas. A connection with the soil needs to be made especially in the hearts of the younger generation.
- The waste workers need to be respected and acknowledged by all in the community as the essential link in the chain – making them feel proud and happy of the work they do. This could be done by honouring them on special occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day celebrations in the community.
- Eco-consciousness should to be carried to all activities, get togethers and celebrations in the community with a complete ban on single use disposables.
- Children should be encouraged to take part in all eco-conscious decisions and activities of the community with a special seat of vote resting with them. They are going to be the leaders of tomorrow.
- Most importantly, respect for the waste champions should be maintained. They should not be pulled down and criticised for each and every action of theirs. The community should be encouraged to chip in with constructive criticism and active participation by the leaders in the RWA.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
The Nirvana Country community has received many awards and recognition by various stakeholders for it’s well managed decentralised waste management system. Dr. Shyamala Mani (Professor, National Institute of Urban Affairs who holds solid waste management exposure workshops for urban local bodies across India) visited the Nirvana Country waste composting site and gave the composting process a big thumbs up.
For queries and guidance on implementation of 3-way segregation process and the community composting solution using rotary drums and metal bins detailed in this case study, please contact: Ms. Monika Khanna Gulati, Nirvana Country.
For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this case study, please write to the author – Neelam Ahluwalia at the email id mentioned below.
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