Food makes up 73% of Mumbai’s garbage: Civic body

Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai
Oct 09, 2016 12:44 AM IST

The report said 73% of the garbage that makes its way into the city’s dumping grounds was food waste

Three-fourths of Mumbai’s garbage in the past year was made up of the food we waste, an unreleased environment report by the civic body for 2015-16 shows.

A report by the civic body said 73% of the garbage that makes its way into the city’s dumping grounds was food waste(Praful Gangurde/HT photo)
A report by the civic body said 73% of the garbage that makes its way into the city’s dumping grounds was food waste(Praful Gangurde/HT photo)

The report said 73% of the garbage that makes its way into the city’s dumping grounds was food waste. What makes this a hazard? Only 5% of the city’s waste is segregated, according to the report — which means the rest of it chokes the dumping grounds that have been witnessing recurring fires.

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“Three-fourths of the city’s total waste has been demarcated as organic-wet waste. When this mixes with other forms of dry waste such as plastic, debris and cloth, the process of decomposition takes much longer and as a result, the suppressed methane that is generated at dumping grounds easily ignites fires,” said a senior civic official from solid waste management (SWM) department.

“A prolonged monsoon season has reduced such incidents since the Deonar dumping ground fire in February. But with the intensity of sunlight increasing, the chances of another fire cannot be ruled out.”

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s unreleased Environment Status Report (ESR) 2015-16 shows sand, stone and fine earth (construction debris) accounted for 17% of the city’s waste, while the remaining comprised plastic (3%), organic dry waste such as wood and cloth (3%) and paper and other recyclables, including metals (4%). Civic officials said the figures were collated on the basis of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) study and the average of waste generated by citizens was collated and compared. The data was consolidated by the SWM department.

According to a report by the SWM department, only 14,000 of an approximate 2,65,000 housing societies, buildings and gated complexes across the city’s 24 wards segregate waste. “While only 5% waste is segregated, less than 2% is composted privately,” said the SWM official adding that new SWM rules from 2016 make it mandatory for societies and institutions to segregate waste at source or pay a penalty.

“We are in the process of levying stricter penalties on societies sending mixed waste to dumpers. Waste management not only helps reduce quantum of garbage, but also bring down transportation cost, which is the tax payers’ money,” the official said.

Scientists well-versed with Mumbai’s solid waste management situation, however, rubbished the civic body’s ESR report data, but maintained that waste management by citizens was poor.

“The data is inaccurate as the total quantum of organic (food) waste cannot be more than 10% -12% (pre-cooking and post-eating waste) and the maximum trash will be comprised of all packaging material including plastic, cardboard, jute, bamboo etc both by volume and by weight,” Dr SR Maley, Mumbai-based scientist and Technical Committee Member of the Supreme Court for waste management rules. But he said waste management at the source by citizens was poor.

“The concept of disciplined disposal of waste is not there. Segregation of waste should be in seven categories – dry, wet, electronic, biomedical, glass, plastic and thermocol – collected at seven different storage systems provided to separate contractors of the civic body for effective disposal or recycling

The ESR report also put in numbers the amount of waste the city generates and the capacity of our dumping grounds. Mumbai currently produces 8,600 metric tonnes (MT) of waste a day, and 23.50% of this goes to the Deonar dumping ground — the city’s largest. Kanjur receives 35.30% and the remaining 41% goes to Mulund. The BMC has 35 waste segregation centres in the city and another 35 have been proposed to be built next year. The number of garbage dumper trucks in the city rose from 182 in 2013 to 247 in 2016.

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    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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