Downtown

Where waste returns home as flowers

waste matters : Residents of CEEBROS Boulevard compost their kitchen and garden waste.  

uring a recent conversation, Ravi Kumar referred to the huge apartment complexes on Old Mahabalipuram Road and also those in areas proximate to the Corridor as ‘vertical villages’. A member of the Management Committee of the CEEBROS Boulevard Flat Owners Association, Ravi Kumar has a ringside view of ‘life in the skies’ and would have had a raft of reasons to draw a parallel between villages and vertical housing clusters in the metro.

In our eyes, these complexes bear a striking resemblance to villages on one significant point — the speed with which information is shared. In a village, information, when shared with one person, has a way of spreading to every nook and cranny, with the speed of greased lightning. The shared information is invariably social in nature.

Even in huge apartment complexes, especially those in areas such as OMR and Velachery and parts of Tambaram Velachary Main Road, where one finds a concentration of software professionals, information sharing is swift. The information that is shared is often not social, but official and civic in nature, and the sharing is done in such a systematic manner that it often galvanises almost all the residents at a complex into taking positive action that helps improve conditions in and around their turf.

Associations of apartment complexes here are invariably very efficient in disseminating information about planned initiatives, usually those that have to do with clean-ups and waste segregation and composting, through digital tools.

Therefore, when we learnt about how the 350-unit CEEBROS Boulevard in Thoraipakkam and the 56-unit Sabari Terrace on Wipro Street in Sholinganallur, have been segregating waste and composting their green waste for a substantial period of time, we were not surprised.

Harsha Koda, secretary of Sabari Terrace Flat Owners Assocaition, says: “For the last five years, at Sabari Terrace, we have been segregating waste and sending the various categories of waste to their rightful places. Garden and kitchen waste, which constitutes around 30 per cent of the total generated waste, is composted. Recyclables, which constitute around 30 per cent too, goes to the Kabadiwala. We manage our recyclables in a way that helps the housekeeping staff make some money. We encourage them to take the initiative in separating the recyclable waste, and allow them to collect and sell this waste. This way, we ensure that around 60 to 70 per cent of the waste does not go to the landfills.”

At apartment complexes, composting is a hot topic of discussion.

Harsha says, “In the last two months, associations of ten apartment complexes approached us for guidance on composting. Out of the ten, four came to our facility to take measurements and also sought inputs on where to buy earthworms. In the next six months, around 20 apartment complexes can be expected to start composting their green waste. He believes every apartment complex can compost waste in its backyard.

“If we are looking at a basic set-up, all it takes is around two sq.ft for every apartment in a complex. So, if there are 100 apartments in a complex, the common composting area has to be just 200 sq.ft,” he explains.

Shanthi Ullas, who is volunteering in the area of waste segregation and composting, has helped many colonies and apartment complexes, some of them on OMR, to compost waste. She says, “You don’t need considerable space to start a composting initiative. A 6x4 sq.ft compost pit can take around 100 tonnes of waste a day. The problem of smell emanating from the bins can be tackled through advanced solutions that are available in the market.” Shanti says OSR land and little vacant space in apartment complexes can be converted into a composting area. She believes there is a growing interest in composting, and that a growing number of complexes has given up their reliance of stores selling garden compost

“Residents of Seabrooke Apartments at 4th Seaward Road, Valmiki Nagar, do not shop for garden compost any more,” she adds.

Says Ravi Kumar, “In our apartment complex, we have some amateur farmers — residents who have land elsewhere where they set up an agricultural farm — and some of the compost generated at the complex goes to support their agricultural initiatives.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 3:24:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/Where-waste-returns-home-as-flowers/article14503025.ece

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