Even as data from the municipal corporation reveals that only 5% of the housing societies in Mumbai segregate their waste, a four-building multi-storeyed apartment complex in Parel is setting an example by segregating 100% of its waste.
As many as 510 families of Ashok Tower, Parel (West) have created a waste management model that separates trash into seven categories — metal, plastic, paper, e-waste, organics, glass and mixed trash — and includes provisions for recyclable items and compostable organic waste.
With the help of waste management experts RUR Greenlife (Are You Reducing Reusing Recycling), residents held meetings that were attended by housekeeping staff. “A team of 20 people were trained to go door-to-door colllecting waste last September after residents were taught the benefits of waste management and the amount of carbon-saving that occurs when trash is dealt with at the source,” said Payal Kalra, management committee member.
The housing complex segregates their waste at separate locations for each of the four towers. “Earlier, waste was collected in a haphazard manner but after workshops were held, there has been a massive reduction in the waste sent to the city’s dumping grounds,” said Nitya Sundaresan, another member and resident.
The society generates 360kg of organic waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings and discarded food. Of this, 70kg collected from one tower is sent to six compost drums that use aerobic bio-composting — micro-organisms — to turn it into nutrient-rich compost. The rest is collected by the municipal corporation, however, once the society increases the composting capacity, the residents plan to compost more of the organic waste.
The manure is used to nurture more than 2,000 potted plants across the 12.5acre complex.“The manure is used to grow chilli, ladyfinger, brinjal, tomato, curry leaves and others at a herb garden atop one of the buildings. It is also used to nurture fruit-bearing plants such as chikoo, jackfruit, pomegranate and drumsticks at a quarter-of-an-acre fruit garden,” said Juhi Nag, another resident.
Inorganic waste amounting to 500kg a day and 200kg electronic waste, collected once in two months, is sent for recycling to individual NGOs through RUR, with the help of the civic body. “The only major waste that is sent to landfills is biomedical waste. This too is properly segregated so civic body officials do not face problems,” said Trikam Solanki, estate manager.
The society treats its run-off from washrooms at a sewage treatment plant located on the southern side of the complex. Everyday, 80 kilolitres of sewage water is treated and reused at gardens and flush tanks across the complex. According to Mumbai’s municipal corporation, an average Mumbaiite uses 135 litres of water every day.
According to a report by the civic body’s solid waste management department, only 14,000 of an approximate 2,65,000 housing societies, buildings and gated complexes across the city’s 24 wards segregate waste.