Thiruvananthapuram: The Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), meant for collecting inorganic waste, seem to have found more takers than the aerobic bins placed next to them. The facility with four aerobic bins and an MRF at Ambalamukku is an example. Despite the limited capacity of the MRF, they get four to six sacks of plastic daily. Last month, 1,300 kilograms of plastic was collected from the MRFs at Ambalamukku, Peroorkada market and Vattiyoorkavu. The MRF, started in September 2017, is a space where people can leave behind inorganic waste.
The facilities have been set up in the same compound along with aerobic units.
Plastic waste is collected daily, while there is an annual calendar based on which other inorganic waste is collected. These include chappals, glass waste and e-waste. Plastic carry bags are sent to shredding units to be used in road making. Other waste is sent to recyclers. Aerobic bins turn food and other organic waste into compost. The people are not yet familiar with the MRFs as even now there are new enquiries about their timing and address, according to sanitation workers. V.G. Vineesh, staff member at Peroorkada market MRF, says that they put up a notice only because the enquiries are becoming more frequent.
A number of people within and outside the city take their plastic waste to Jagathy grounds, though there is no MRF with the aerobic bin unit there. (There was a protest against setting up an MRF.) Despite there being no facility, last month they collected 250 kilograms of plastic waste. Because of non-availability of space, some of the bins here are used to stack inorganic waste, before it is cleaned and segregated. The plastic carry bags are sent to shredding units while the rest are sent to recyclers. The information about MRF is largely spread via word of mouth. The corporation was planning to map the location of the aerobic bins on Google, but the project is still not complete.
MRF-cum-aerobic units do not have toilet facilities
The workers at many of the MRF-cum-aerobic units in the city have to make do with a workplace with no toilets or light. Work here happens in two shifts — one from 5 am to 1 pm and another from 1 pm to 9 pm. During these 8 hours, should the sanitation workers need to answer nature’s call, they will have to either head to the health circle office or make use of a shop. Some units which are on the health office compounds, like that at Vattiyoorkavu, do not have this problem.
The large window of time during which people can bring their waste to these centres is helpful. However, workers said that it is difficult for them to stay on waiting for people. One even said that when he had gone to relieve himself, someone who visited the unmanned MRF complained against him. While the corporation should have thought of the basic needs of the workers who make the project successful, higher officials here say that there are space constraints at most of the units.
Without lights at any of the units, workers won’t be able to distinguish between clean and unclean plastic brought early in the morning and at night. Unclean plastic waste is usually rejected to inculcate among people the habit of cleaning. However, workers end up with the additional work of cleaning waste brought before dawn and after dusk. Corporation officials said that a tender for solar lamps had been floated and that the problem would be resolved at the earliest. Health standing committee chairperson K. Sreekumar said that the corporation was putting together a project proposal to set up toilets with the units. “These toilets will be right there at the site. We are working out a project to ensure toilets with water connection,” he said.