Bangalore: Dry waste collection centres were set up across the city to effectively manage the segregation problem that was the prime challenge in tackling the garbage menace that choked Bangalore at one point. The drive gained momentum when court orders were passed to manage the garbage crisis effectively and in a time-bound manner.
Not confident about tackling the menace alone, the BBMP had to rope in many NGOs to handle the crisis in an effective manner.
There were lots of seminars, workshops, campaigns and demonstrations to create awareness on effective waste management. One plan was to set up dry waste collection centres in every ward. A certain amount of the dry garbage could be sent for recycling, and the wet waste would be sent to landfills.
Dry waste collection centres with a banner stating ‘We Collect Dry Waste Here’ started sprouting up in most wards. Construction of 154 such centres is complete and 122 of them are functional, according to the BBMP.
Next: Collection centres being misused
Collection centres being misused
The BBMP may claim to have set up dry waste collection centres to recycle the city’s garbage, but they don’t seem to be working as intended. As many as 140 dry waste centres were established in parks and vacant plots ignoring opposition from resident welfare associations, and NGOs and non-profit organisations roped in to run them.
The idea was to segregate the waste and reduce the burden on landfills, but in practice these centres are being misused by ragpickers and scrap material dealers for their own ends, say sources.
Going by the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules only wet waste should be sent to landfills after discarding the dry, but the process is mostly ignored at the centres where the ragpickers merely help themselves to things that will fetch them some money in the markets. The rest of the rubbish, including pieces of iron and metal is allowed to make its way to the landfills, sources reveal.
With the dry waste centres also not equipped to recycle milk sachets, multi-layered packets, and so on, a lot of the plastic and other non bio-degradable waste reaches the dumpyard at Mandur, much to the dismay of farmers fighting to stop the city’s rubbish polluting their surroundings.
But some voluntary groups don’t see anything wrong in allowing workers to make money out of the city’s waste. Says Sandya, member of the Solid Waste Management Round Table, “This is a source of income for the workers, who have not been paid by the BBMP. At least this way they are able to earn something.”
Next: Put onus on producers of packaging
Put onus on producers of packaging
The BBMP made a commitment to set up 198 DWCCs, one in every ward. But after 18 months the number of centres in operation are about 50.
Operating Dry Waste Collection Centres
Essentially dry waste is supposed to be collected door to door by the BBMP and taken to the centres to sort out.
The centres earn revenue from the sale of this material and are supposed to use it to pay for their operations and the labour they employ. The DWCCs also provide alternative livelihoods to waste pickers displaced by the new system of segregation at source and collection. They currently handle between 50 kgs and about one tonne of waste a day.
What dry waste management does is maximise recovery for recycling and make organic waste management possible .
DWCC is not a one-stop shop for dry waste management yet
Dry waste managementin its entirety needs more than just setting up of DWCCs. What the DWCCs cannot do as of today is manage non — commercial dry waste like cloth, thermocol, tubelights, CFLs, slippers, rexine, leather items, and multi-layer laminate packaging also known as ‘Branded Litter,’ like chips packets, shampoo sachets, food packaging, chocolate wrappers and so on which are notrecyclable.
What this means is that after all the time and labour spent on sorting and segregating this material at the DWCC there is no place to send it to, because no one wants them. So either the DWCC rejects this material when it is brought to it or ends up rejecting it after sorting.
SWMRT has made several representations, including one at the recently concluded CII waste management summit 2013, asking to shift the responsibility of managing this waste to the producer of the packaging. Till such time, this waste material can only be disposed off through co-processing or landfilling, both of which are not sustainable options in the long run.
—The writer is member, Solid Waste Management Round Table, Bangalore...