Zero Waste Chennai: We are here now

The incinerator plant in Manali. Photos: M. Vedhan and special arrangement

The incinerator plant in Manali. Photos: M. Vedhan and special arrangement   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

Waste can be a differentiator, sometimes providing unmistakable clues into essential features of a region, and these features may contrast sharply with those of other regions nearby.

“If viewed with a discerning eye, the waste you find in Sholinganallur will be different from what you find in Manali and the one in Alandur can throw up its own set of surprises. In some cases, the difference will be very obvious,” says Alby John, regional deputy commissioner — South, Greater Chennai Corporation.

This understanding seems to have permeated the think tank at GCC, as it is mirrored in recent exercises undertaken by the different zones to add value to the waste gathered in their micro-composting units and material recovery facilities.

Factoring in the differences in the kind of waste they may be dealing with — minor or major, subtle or obvious — Ripon Buildings is noticeably on guard against the danger of micro-managing its “Zero Waste Chennai” progamme at the zonal level down to the minutest fleck and gumming up any evolving mechanisms of innovation.

“Broad instructions are given to the zones and they are allowed to innovate as they go about adding value to certain types of waste,” explains Alby.

With a decentralised approach, a variety of recycling and value-addition narratives are coming out of different regions. While every zone has to deal with the whole gamut of waste generated within its limits, ranging from the basic wet and dry waste to hazardous waste, the potential for sharing less-common stories now seems built into the system.

So, there can be stories of one zone going big on refurbishing old bags and selling them. Another may be promoting the circular economy in other ways: It may be refurbished shoes being put on sale.

Larger initiatives

Besides, GCC is setting up value-from-waste projects across Chennai on a pilot basis, and which again provides unique examples from various regions to look for.

“Based on the success of these pilots, a call on extending them to other regions of Chennai will be taken,” says an official from the soild waste management (SWM) department of GCC.

“In Sholinganallur, Pallikaranai and Madhavaran, work is under way to set up bio CNG plants. In Kannagi Nagar, which is under Zone 15 (Sholinganallur), a unit to derive byproducts from plastic-waste has been established. Here, plastic sheets and table ‘clothes’ are made out of plastic waste. In Manali, a trial run of a plant where incinerated ash from dry waste will be used to create concrete blocks is under way. We are close to starting operations that would involve making of concrete blocks with ash derived in this manner. Five areas across Chennai have been earmarked for setting up five units that would derive by-products such as soft-wood blocks out of garden waste processing. The machinery for these five units have been imported. The units will come up at the Perungudi Dumping Ground, the Old Transfer Station at Nandambakkam, Old Central Asphalt Plant in Chetpet, Old General Workshop in Walltax Road and Kodingayur Dumping Ground,” says the Corporation official.

Three-R tourism

“Zero-Waste Chennai” does have the unmistakable tone of a catch-cry, and if the objective is to get the initiative to grip the consciousness of city residents, it would do well to start familiarisation programmes for residents’ groups and students.

By taking them through these exercises and facilities, the participants can be enabled to see how big a king-pin they are in the process of reducing waste generation, by applying the Three-R philosophy of waste management at source, which is their home.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 7:07:57 AM |

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