Yuthika Society in Baner, Pune was looking to improve its already substantial sustainability goals while meeting Municipal Corporation regulations in 2017. They had discussed many approaches and possibilities and finally decided to make the best of use of the compost pits that the builder had already provided them. They contracted ProEarth Ecosystems to consult and setup the project. They initially started with a pilot that covered only 3 buildings waste to ensure that the method used was sound and would give odour-free and pest free results. Once the pilot was found to be successful, the society scaled up to their entire waste.
The society houses more than 530 families on its premises and generates about 400 kg of kitchen waste daily. The challenge was to ensure the compost facility worked completely odour free since the compost pits are next parking lots and very close to residential buildings. ProEarth first recommended minor changes in the design of the pits and setup its unique composting layers. A shredding machine was procured to improve the efficiency of composting.
Compost pits are next to parking lots and near buildings. There have been no complaints of odours for last 4 years of operation
ProEarth also assigned trained manpower to run the project. Today, the project has run failure free, odour free and pest free for more than 4 years and has diverted 580+ tons of waste from landfills preventing critical methane emissions into the atmosphere.
All households at Yuthika sort their waste into kitchen waste and dry waste. The society has also introduced systems to segregate glass & plastic separately for those residents who wish to do the extra bit. The segregated wet waste is collected door to door by housekeeping staff and left at the shredding unit. A trained employee of ProEarth then loads the material on a sorting table to remove last remaining non compostable materials. The waste is shredded and then transferred into the compost pits in a daily loading sequence. Bacterial and fungal compost cultures are used along with an organic odour control spray. After continuing this cycle for 4-5 months, when the pits are near full, compost is harvested and sieved for use.
The project runs on an installation and service model where the housing society spent about Rs. 500 per family to setup the project and about Rs. 70 per flat per month to maintain the project.
The society generates about 3.5 tons of compost every 5-6 months. All of the compost is consumed in the garden or used by residents in their balcony gardens. Residents have reported positive results of using the compost in their gardens and some have reported that their roses bloomed better than before.
The initial challenges involved getting residents to segregate waste into 2 or more categories and sustaining the quality. Through persistent actions this has now become a culture within the complex. In a broader sense, one of the primary challenges to large scale implementation is a wider lack of awareness and priority given to taking ownership for waste management. The focussed enforcement of solid waste regulations will be the only solution towards wider transformation of society.
Currently sorted plastic and glass goes to scrap shops. Eventually discussions are on with ProEarth to take over end to end responsibilities for waste and create a zero waste society!
The society has many other sustainability initiatives, such as well-maintained Sewage Treatment Plant with recycled water being used for flushing, rooftop solar, solar thermal water heating, rain-water harvesting to name a few.