In a one of a kind effort in Chennai, the Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association (ROKA), along with Okapi Research and Advisory (an IIT Madras incubated company) launched a lane composter in Kasturba Nagar, on Oct.11. Two more lane composters are planned to be installed in the coming week.
Inaugurated by N.Mahesan, Chief Engineer (SWM and Mechanical), Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), and Councillor of Ward 173, Subashini Durai, each lane composter is built with a capacity to compost 750 kgs of wet waste each.
The composters, of size 4 ft * 3 ft, can process 20 – 25 kgs of wet waste per day from the three main roads of Kasturba Nagar – 2nd, 3rd and 4th Main Road.
Appreciating the concept, N.Mahesan asked the GCC officials to coordinate with the Urbaser Sumeet staff to vigorously propagate source segregation in the locality and ensure 100% segregation. “If this becomes a success, we would replicate this concept in other areas of the city as well,” he said.
“The concept of the lane composter is inspired by the model placed at HSR Layout, Bangalore, set up by SWM Round Table members. They explained to us about lane composting at a community level and shared their experiences and tips on how to sustain it,” said Janani Venkitesh, Secretary – ROKA. This project idea is part of a larger research proposal selected by NITI Aayog as one of the top 75 ideas to promote LiFE (Lifestyle For Environment), in March 2023.
There will be one composter for each street and the wet waste from the surrounding apartments / houses will be composted in it. A leaf composter has also been placed adjacent to this, to collect the dry leaves from the street, to be later used in the lane composter. The compost produced will be used by the adjacent houses for their gardens, said the team from ROKA.
“These composters aim to divert around 2100 kg of wet waste per month, which is approximately 1% of the total biodegradable waste generated in the project area. The lane composters provide an opportunity for people to see first-hand the process of how waste turns into black gold. We hope that it also inspires more people to segregate waste and start composting in-house,” explained Janani.
In a unique gesture, the lane composters were inaugurated by cutting a garland strung in banana fibre, which won appreciations from all, “Now this too can be composted in the lane composter,” shared P.Saranya, Treasurer – ROKA, as she pointed out to a coconut vendor and said, “Instead of bottled and packaged snacks, we have bananas and coconut water for you, which you can drink without a straw or with the steel tumblers here.”
‘Punch the Plastic’ initiative inaugurated
On this occasion, N.Mahesan and Subashini Durai also inaugurated the ‘Punch the Plastic’ project in Kasturba Nagar, initiated by IIT Madras. Prof.Indumathi Nambi, Faculty advisor – Sustainable Campus Collective (IIT Madras) explained about the project, “As part of this project, selected apartments would have a hook placed in a common area within the compound and residents can punch and place the plastic waste, especially the MLP (multi-layer plastics). Once the hook is filled, it would be taken off and the plastic would be sent to industries for processing.”
MLP, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s Plastic Waste Management – 2016 Rules, is any material used for packaging and having at least one layer of plastic as the main ingredients in combination with one or more layers of materials such as paper, paper board, polymeric materials, metalized layers, or aluminium foil, either in the form of a laminate or co-extruded structure. MLP is most commonly used in packaging chips, biscuits, chocolates, etc.
Also present at the occasions were officials from Zone 13, Ward 173, Urbaser Sumeet, and members of Okapi Research and Advisory and Care Earth Trust.
ROKA can be contacted at [email protected].