SEGREGATION AT SOURCE: HOW A CHANGE FROM BLAMING TO INCENTIVISING WILL HELP INDIAN BIO-GAS INDUSTRY IN LONG RUN
The local governments in India have most often resorted to blame the citizens for no or poor segregation of wastes at source and washed their hands off from responsible and systematic waste management. At the most, the civic bodies have amended their bye laws making segregation of waste at source compulsory, published certain advertisements and issued notices to citizens/housing associations for contravention of the bye-laws. Despite having done so, the effect of these legislative and administrative measures do not seem to have yield much positive visible results. The employees/contractors of these local governments who are responsible for collection of wastes from door to door, also do not seem to be at par with segregation at source mandate. So here comes a question as to what is going wrong? I took out some time to examine the issue by stepping myself into the shoes of the fellow citizens as well as the local government.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVE
The primary idea is to avoid any kind of political controversy/criticism with respect to waste management and save the face for the next election. Segregation of waste at source for them is something which lot of people talking about so this can be politically useful. The recourse to exploit the political usefulness is to change byelaws, publish advertisements (showing how concerned it is), sending notices for violation of bye laws (on the paper enforcement of laws but off the paper making room for corruption), managing the waste collection mechanism without proper infrastructure (municipal agents collecting wastes not bothered about segregation, you just dump everything on his/her drum and pay tips whenever there is a festival) and finally, managing to keep the citizens scared.
Ordinary citizens of the country already have enough issues/problems to struggle with of which price rise/inflation being the severe most. To continue the struggle, people gradually need more earning which requires greater time consumption on livelihood activities. In a situation like this it is foolish on the part of local governments to even think that people should be ready to do something which (i) requires them spending additional cost, time and energy; (ii) does not give any incentive; and (iii) becomes a headache at the end.
RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT
The only possible resolution of this conflict seems to be an Incentive Based Waste Segregation Model which will not only help an effective municipal waste management but also India’s journey towards energy efficiency in addition to guaranteeing incentive to the citizens.
Step 1: Citizens will segregate the biodegradable wastes in special containers;
Step 2: Trained representatives of bio-gas companies will come to doorstep, inspect, weigh and collect the organic wastes;
Step 3: The respective citizens will be paid for the organic wastes at a rate notified by the government in consultation with the association of bio-gas entrepreneurs (say Rs. 10/- per kg);
Step 4: Collected organic waste will be loaded into CNG waste dumpers (which means they can run on bio-gas as well);
Step 5: The organic wastes will be taken to bio-gas bottling plants located at the outskirts of the city;
Step 6: The bio-gas bottling plants will process the waste, produce bio-CNG and bottle it to compressed bio-CNG cylinders (for domestic/commercial/industrial usage);
Step 7: The compressed bio-gas cylinders will be transported to gas distribution agencies and CNG filling stations located in the city;
Steps 8.1: Ordinary residents and commercial enterprises will obtain CNG gas connections from the distributors for cooking and other purposes;
Steps 8.2: CNG filling stations will supply bio-CNG to motor vehicles; and
Step 9: The entire process will generate money and return the investment to the bio-gas entrepreneurs.
ON POLICY LEVEL
To implement the incentive oriented mechanism (i.e. for both organic and inorganic wastes) on a policy level, the government will have to adopt the following model:
Abbreviations: R= Residential Buildings/ C= Commercial Buildings (e.g. eatery, hospitals, shops, small scale industries, shopping malls etc.)/ B= Biogas Bottling Plant/ P= Plastic Recycling Plant/ STP= Sewerage Treatment Plant/ M= Main Sewerage Pit/ V=Village
The white circle refers to a town called “T”. Town T is surrounded by agricultural/non-agricultural lands and 4 (four) villages V1, V2, V3 and V4. The Municipal Corporation of town T (“MC”) operates 4 (four) STPs situated at the outskirts of the town T. Now the MC further acquires 8 (eight) parcels of appropriate size lands from the state government in the North, East, South and West sides of the town. The land parcels are so located that they can be easily connected with the STP through pipelines.
Now MC proposes to generate additional revenue and in this regard leases out the parcels of land (by way of tender) to 2 (two) companies which will engage in bio-gas production and waste plastic recycling. Let’s say company C1 is the bio-gas company and company C2 is the waste plastic recycling company. Now let’s look at how these 2 (two) companies will function.
C1 will establish 4(four) bio-gas bottling plants viz. B1, B2, B3 and B4. These plants will not receive any grid connected power and will have to source power from solar energy and captive use of some amount of bio-gas produced in the plant itself. Further, these plants will maintain required number of garbage trucks that run on non-fossil fuels like bio-gas.
C1 will enter into an agreement with the MC wherein the gas generated in the STPs viz STP1, STP2, STP3 and STP4 will be supplied to the respective biogas plants through pipelines. The STPs will receive uninterrupted supply of the town’s sewerage by way of main sewerage pits M1 and M2.
Further, on a daily basis C1’s personnel will visit the town and villages with their trucks/weighing machines and procure the bio-disposable wastes. The bio-wastes will be procured at a price (say Rs. 10/Kg) otherwise people will lose interest in segregation at source.
The collected waste will be converted into biogas, purified and bottled like liquefied petroleum gas. The biogas cylinders will be supplied to town and village again (using another set of vehicles running on bio-gas) for usage in domestic and commercial purposes. Further, the slurry generated from the plant will be sold to farmers for agricultural purposes.
C2 will establish 4 (four) plastic re-cycling plants viz. P1, P2, P3 and P4. These plants will not receive any grid connected power and will have to source power from solar energy. However, if required, these plants can procure bio-gas (through pipeline) from the bio-gas plants. Further, these plants will maintain required number of trucks that run on non-fossil fuels like bio-gas. These trucks will be used for procuring the plastic wastes.
Every day, C2’s personnel will visit the town and the village with their trucks/weighing machines and procure the non bio-disposable plastic wastes. The non bio-wastes will also be procured at a price (say Rs. 15/Kg) otherwise people will not show interest in segregation at source.
The collected waste will be recycled in the plants and the recycled plastics can be used for creating assets in the villages through NREGA. Further, depending on the domestic and international demand, the recycled plastics can also be sold domestically or internationally for various industrial and commercial activities.
1. Effective disposal of wastes;
2. Revenue generation for local government;
3. Reduction in the dependency of fossil fuels;
4. Employment generation;
5. Production of organic manure; and
6. Environmental wellbeing.
 http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/ppp-model-adopted-to-convert-waste-into-biogas/article5574484.ece retrieved on July 02, 2014.
 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/women-lead-the-way-in-recycling-plastic-waste/article5022049.ece retrieved on July 02, 2014.
 Refer to the last slide http://www.direc2010.gov.in/pdf/Demonstration%20of%20Biogas%20Purification%20and%20Bottling%20Technology.pdf retrieved on October 3, 2014.