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Composting and organic waste management in Mumbai

By: Rajeshwari Phadtare

One of the most populous cities of India, Mumbai has always faced the issues of waste management. Waste management systems in the city have long followed a haphazard system where wet and dry waste collectively found its way into the overflowing landfills in Deonar and Kanjurmarg, few of the largest dump yards in the city, leading to periodic combustion caused by compressed gasses.

Image Source: Pal Pillar/AFP

A report published in 2016 by the Mumbai civic body stated that 73% of the garbage that makes its way into the city’s dumping grounds is food waste. Only 5% of the city’s waste is segregated, according to the report.

Three-fourths of the city’s total waste has been demarcated as wet, organic waste. When this mixes with other forms of dry waste such as plastic, debris, and cloth, the process of decomposition takes much longer and as a result, the suppressed methane that is generated at dumping grounds easily ignites fires.

That is when composting comes into picture. It is a natural method of both waste disposal and soil fertilization. Compost forms as a result of the natural breakdown of organic materials into fine particles by bacteria, fungi, insects, worms, and microbes that live in the soil.

Once made, compost can be used to fertilize the soil, give it better structure and moisture-retaining properties. If you look around in nature, the green and dry leaves, branches, twigs, animal wastes, vegetable waste, everything is being broken down into rich humus by millions of microorganisms that are thriving in soil.

In a city like Mumbai, where so much waste is disposed off into landfills on a daily basis. Organic matter that we toss in the trash contributes to climate change.

Image Source: Instagram/compostlivemumbai

Methods of waste disposal (incineration, dumping in the water bodies, landfills) have only added to the pollution woes as these methods have given an alarming rise of greenhouse gases.

Yes, recycling our own waste in a decentralised manner will help to reduce the burden on landfills.

Image Source: Instagram/compostlivemumbai

As a responsible citizen, I have done various activities in Mumbai in regards to composting. Latest was a session on Community Composting for people of Veena Dynasty, Vasai E. I helped them to install 4 non-electrical composting units each with a capacity to process one tonne of organic waste per month. They can divert at least 4 tonnes of waste from the landfill i.e 48000 kgs of waste per year!

Another one was a workshop for kitchen waste composting for flat owners of Sangita Coop Hsg Soc, Colaba. I helped them to install 4 mini composting units with a capacity to process 80kgs of waste per month thereby diverting 320kgs of waste per month i.e 3840kgs of waste per year. Few workshops are in the pipeline with a few more housing societies in Chembur and few corporates.

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

Rajeshwari Phadtare

Rajeshwari Phadtare

Rajeshwari Phadtare performs various activities in Mumbai in regards to composting. She did a session in Vasai that helped the people to install 4 non-electrical composting units each with a capacity to process one tonne of organic waste per month. They can divert at least 4 tonnes of waste from the landfill i.e 48000 kgs of waste per year!

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