Decentralised waste management facilities in Gurugram supported by CSE praised by Norwegian minister
The city has developed some remarkable models, for managing waste from bulk generators
A delegation of the Norwegian government visited two facilities in Gurugram on November 15, 2023 to oversee its progress in achieving an ambitious ‘zero waste’ status. With help from Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the city has remarkably implemented sustainable waste management methods for bulk waste generators.
Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, minister for international development, Norway; May-Elin Stener, ambassador of Norway to India; Stener’s Secretary Filippa Brårud and Beate Langset, counsellor, climate and environment cooperation section in the Norwegian embassy were among the delegates from Norway.
The Government of India has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Norway to cooperate on cleaning oceans and developing a blue economy. The first delivery under the MoU has been the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, for which a letter of intent has been signed between the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.
The initiative aims to support the central government in preventing and reducing marine pollution from both land-based and offshore activities. This initiative focuses on the impact of India’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 and also supports the Clean Seas campaign.
As part of the Indo-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, CSE is implementing a project titled Mainstreaming Circular Economy in the Waste Management Sector in India. CSE had adopted Gurugram as a deep-dive mission city to help implement a circular economy in waste management.
The think tank aims to impart knowledge, build capacity and provide support with appropriate research for assessing the current situation with clear recommendations to the municipal corporations to help the city take the right actions on the path of circularity through sustainable measures.
Amid challenges in the whole system and concerns about the performance of the private service provider, Gurugram has been able to create models, especially to manage the waste from the bulk waste generators. It has been able to showcase as replicable models that involves champions from community.
In urban India, 50-60 per cent of the waste produced is organic. An efficient management strategy for this major fraction of waste can resolve the Solid Waste Management challenges in India in current times.
Producing biofuels from organic municipal solid waste (MSW) could be an alternative approach to convert it to energy. This method can help generate an environmentally friendly source of renewable energy as well as a sustainable MSW solution.
Recent biofuel developments provide rays of hope for a greener future, particularly in the context of rapidly declining nonrenewable energy reserves and a deteriorating global environment. If these small-scale efforts are community driven, participatory and decentralised in nature, it adds more value to technology and human connections, help city governments save a considerable amount of fuel costs for collection and transportation and can divert waste from going to landfills.
Combined facility for composting
Due to space constraints, five Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHS) in Gurugram banded together, lobbied the Haryana government, and were successful in obtaining a space in which they established a composting plant in a cluster mode to process biodegradable waste from 319 households.
The composting plant has a capacity of treating 300 kilogrammes organic waste per day and dry waste is collected by authorised waste collectors.
A group of residents volunteered to spread the word about source segregation. Despite challenges, they have successfully run the plant for four years in a row with the assistance of an empanelled private company, Balancing Bits. Every year, they are able to divert 16 tonnes of organic waste from landfill.
This could be a replicable model in which not only was the solidarity and cohesiveness among different community members notable, but it was also inspirational for bulk waste generators in other Indian cities with limited space.
The mandate for bulk waste generators to manage biodegradable waste in situ came into effect in 2016 with the notification of the Solid Waste Management Rules. Many large housing societies with insufficient space to set up a facility for managing biodegradable waste were actually built prior to 2016. It is thus recommended that cities with space issues learn from this model when dealing with bulk waste generators.
Decentralised waste management plant
The delegation of the Norwegian government along with members of CSE and sevice provider Saahas at decentralised waste management plant. Photo: CSE
The facility is designed to process three tonnes of biodegradable waste per day, with two tonnes processed via biomethanation and the remaining tonne processed via aerobic composting. The biogas produced here is converted into electricity by a biogas genset, which is then used to meet the plant’s energy needs.
The facility is also capable of handling five tonnes of non-biodegradable waste via a semi-mechanised material recovery facility (MRF), which will be operational soon once the machines are installed. This plant will be able to mitigate four million carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions per year by treating 1,095 tonnes of waste and diverting it from landfills.
In the future, the plant plans to sell a portion of the excess biogas to a nearby hospital kitchen in order to generate revenue and ensure the system’s financial sustainability.
The Norwegian delegation found the learning experience extremely beneficial, and the minister praised the models of small- and medium-scale initiatives in collaboration with municipal corporation and civil society, which were reinforced by some ground-level technical experts.
Tvinnereim also praised the efforts of the communities in both locations, noting how effectively they influenced and changed people’s typical behaviour regarding waste management, which is a global phenomenon. These models are doable and could be inspirational for so many nations in Global South and North who are striving for a sustainable solution to institute circular economy, the minister opined.
“Biofuel, which replaces fossil fuels, is one of several measures that can contribute to the green shift if done right,” Tvinnereim wrote in an Instagram post while sharing her experience.
The Facebook post by the Norwegian embassy over the visit can be found here, the post on X (formerly Twitter) can be found here and a LinkedIn post by the author detailing the visit can be found here.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.