Thiruvananthapuram shows the way

At an awareness programme. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Kerala is on a mission to close down many of its landfills.

And, with a revamped solid waste management system, Thiruvananthapuram has become the jumping-off point for this mission.

A new model

Besides segregating waste at source, the Corporation of Thiruvananthapuram insists on composting organic waste at source. And residents are provided technical assistance in setting up composting facilities at their houses.

The Corporation offers free equipment and maintenance services at a nominal price.

“Thiruvananthapuram has 100 wards, each of which has around 2,500 to 3,000 households. For those composting at source, local service providers offer a three-layered bin and 30-litre coco peat-based inoculum. Green technicians, as they are called, will provide monthly technical assistance as well as collect the compost if the resident does not require it. Service providers will collect only non-biodegradable waste from households. The monthly service charge is ₹200,” says Shibu K.N., director of Thanal, which provides technical consultancy to governments, institutions and communities on solid waste management and zero waste systems.

When commercial establishments, apply for commercial licence, they enter into an agreement with the City Corporation that they will make arrangements for management of their organic waste.

“They must prove that they have a sound, Corporation-approved system in place. Alternatively, they can make an arrangement with outside agencies such as NGOs, local groups or individuals, to take away the organic waste. These agencies, however, must be approved by Kerala Suchitwa Mission,” he adds.

A timetable

Disposing of non-biodegradable waste has been simplified to ensure aggregation and segregation go hand-in-hand.

For example, while valuable recyclables such as plastic and cardboard can be dropped off at earmarked centres, there are special collection days for low-value plastic such as packing material, slippers, bags and wrappers.

On the set days, between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., residents can drop off their low-value waste at resource recovery facilities, which are located in almost every ward.

Valuable recyclables are being recycled for tarring roads, says Sugathan Shivadasan, executive director of the NGO Green Village. “Plastic items are sent to materials recovery facility (MRF), where they are shredded and handed over to Clean Kerala Company Limited, an LSG under Kerala government. This agency, in turn, gives it to the Public Welfare Department (PWD) for tarring roads.” According to Sugathan, the Corporation has also started a ward-level community composting facility. “Aerobic bins have been placed at various points to collect unattended waste on the streets. These are mobile units that can be shifted if they cause any inconvenience to residents of the neighbourhood,” he says.

A green protocol

The Kerala government has implemented a Green Protocol, which, among other things, appeals to the people to minimise the use of non-biodegradable products at huge gatherings.

The Green Protocol was successfully applied at a seven-day Onam celebration at Kanakakunnu Palace.

“Around 25 lakh people had gathered at the venue, where plastic had been totally banned. Student volunteers confiscated all plastic products at the entry point, placed tags and collected an amount of ₹10, which was reimbursed at the exit point. Thermocol plates were replaced with arecanut leaf plates at ₹1 per plate,” recalls Sugathan.

“Besides, in Thiruvananthapuram, availability of plastic carry bags has become rare due to its ban. As residents use plastic to dispose of waste in public, they are left with no option but to participate in such initiatives,” points out Shibu.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 2:08:00 PM |

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