Waste Management goes hi-tech in Bengaluru, India

Waste Mgmt
Tuesday February 28, 2017 13:35

Waste Management goes hi-tech in Bengaluru, India

Posted by Aida Alvarenga

Local waste management centres got radically overhauled, and can now match up to European standards of waste management. 

There is a reason why television programmes that show food factories are a hit: the streamlined process, spick and span equipment and the perfect tempo of workers on an assembly line is fascinating. Believe it or not, processing garbage in this manner can be equally compelling, too. Two waste processing units in Bengaluru, which recently got upgraded, are proof to this. 

In late 2016, waste management experts from the Netherlands-based Sweep Smart, started working with a local vendor running a dry-waste management centre in Rajajinagar (backed by Hasiru Dala) and the drywaste management unit of the Electronic City Industrial Township Authority (ELCITA). At the end of their project, which was this month, the centres got radically overhauled, and can now match up to European standards of waste management. 

Cofounder of Sweep Smart, Niels van den Hoek, and his six-member team helped transform the centres to obtain better efficiency and meet safety and quality standards. “Our aim is to turn waste into happiness,” Hoek said. Though based in Netherlands, the social enterprise works in India, setting up smart and inclusive waste management systems for the informal sector. 

In its new avatar, the waste man agement facility in Electronic City challenges the notion that waste management is a dirty business. At this facility, about 3.5 tonnes of waste collected from about 80 companies everyday is further segregated into 30 or more categories for maximum recycling. Clean floors, neatly organised and labelled storage spaces, clear sign-boards make it look like a creative workspace. “Just because we are working with waste doesn’t mean that the place has to be untidy,” Hoek explained. 

At the centre of action, a conveyor belt system pushes an assortment of waste to nine workers huddled around it. Donning masks and gloves, they pick out the specific categories of waste each of them is as signed to. The CEO of ELCITA, N S Rama, said, “Earlier, it used to pain me to watch the women sitting on the floor amidst piles of waste to segregate. This (new system) is more respectable so they can feel good about what they do.” 

Masks, gloves and other safety equipment have been standardised, and fire safety mechanisms installed. A baling machine compresses card-boards and a few other materials into easy-to-transport blocks. 

In addition to the physical changes, technological support provided by Mindtree’s `I got garbage’ initiative has ensured availability of usable data, and allowed for resource optimisation. “We believe that over time, this will increase our processing capacity, and quality,” Rama said. 

This upgrade by private agencies is a positive move that comes at a time when the civic body is trying to decentralise and hand over more and more responsibilities to private vendors. It proves that waste management does not have to be sloppy, after all.

Written by: Nirupama V

Originally published by the Economic Times India on February 27, 2017 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/57370046.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst