Yesterday we looked at the problems that are posed by improper Solid Waste Management (click here to read). Today let us look at the solutions.

The only accepted solution to this consuming problem is a three-way segregation of waste at source.

  • Recyclable Waste: Paper, certain kinds of plastic, glass and metal can be recycled and put to reuse. This forms about 30 – 35 % of the total waste generated.
  • Bio-degradable Waste: Kitchen waste, left over food, vegetables and leaves which are about 50 % of waste generated are bio-degradable and can be converted into compost
  • Hazardous waste: This constitutes roughly 10 % and needs to be incinerated under controlled conditions

Status today

Countries across the globe have enforced this three-way segregation concept as this is the only workable solution. While it has been easy to manage recyclable waste and incinerators have taken care of hazardous waste, composting of bio-degradable waste has posed numerous challenges:

  • Long time to compost: Composting is not an overnight process and it is normal for a compost to take 60 to 90 days to be ready for use. This entails requirement of large areas which is a scarce commodity is most urban areas
  • Odour: Composting process generates considerable odour through the composting cycle. While this makes it difficult to get workers as they find it an unattractive job, residents around the composting area raise strong objections.
  • Quality: The quality of the final compost is not superior enough and hence needs to be given away free or sold at very low prices.

Bio-tech to the rescue

Research has been going on to find a solution to the challenges posed in composting. Thankfully, new technologies in bio-tech are emerging now to find a workable solution. A combination of bio-chemicals and beneficial microbes is now producing remarkable results, reducing the process time dramatically, enhancing the quality of compost and eliminating odour through the composting process.