Pune generates about 200 – 300 tons of garden waste daily. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has a system for garden waste collection from public spaces and gardens. However there is no reliable system for collection from individual bungalows, housing complexes, institutions, gated communities and private spaces.
Whatever garden waste is collected, has no established method for proper disposal. As a result, most garden waste finds its way into illegal dumping sites. There it attracts more garbage and becomes a stinky eye sore. Garden waste is disposed off on the sides of highways, near Smashan Bhoomis, at river banks and at other water bodies. In the worst case, it is burnt, leading to air pollution. In the hands of the PMC, the waste is mixed with other waste streams at their transfer centers and transported to a landfill.
PMC has about 8-9 shredders available at different parts of the city. Most of them are currently not functional due to various reasons. Consequently, on the one hand PMC’s existing infrastructure and investments are not being utilised and on the other hand the waste generated is causing a huge environmental problem.
Garden waste is an excellent resource. When shredded and processed, it can be used in making briquets and pellets. These are used as cheap smokeless fuel for rural and industrial heating. Shredded garden waste can be used for composting to regenerate the soil. It can be used as bulking material for the treatment of kitchen waste. Larger branches can be used to create Biochar, an excellent form of stable carbon which can enhance soil fertility while sequestering carbon. Shredded waste and leaf waste could be used as mulching medium for gardens and farms. Mulch would reduce weed growth and consequent labour requirements. Mulching also adds nutrients into the soil, prevent moisture losses through evaporation and encourages the growth of beneficial soil micro-organisms for a healthy productive growth of plants and vegetation.
INORA has been in discussions with the PMC to begin the operation of one of the available shredders to process garden waste and generate a sustainable resource out of it. This socially and environmentally relevant model will need initial financial support at least for the first year. Once the model proves its sustainability practically, this model could be extended to all the shredders across the city. It is expected that all shredder locations put together could process at least 30 – 50 tons of garden waste per day, making a significant impact towards a more sustainable future for the city at low cost.
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