Community Composting is a great enabler in encouraging people to sustain segregation of waste at source. It physically reaffirms the outcome of something happening with waste – everyday. Zero odour composting is something that every community should aspire for.
But community composting can come with challenges.
Fool Proof Systems
When we want to make composting odour less, we need to understand that simple technologies make a huge difference. When we want people to segregate – we need to keep in mind this is an activity that has to happen every day. So right from segregation bins – it has to be a simple streamlined policy. The aim to ensure that 100% composting occurs is to shift people to stop using plastic bin linings, and shift them to zero lining/paper lining of their wet waste bin.
Even while looking at how to compost – pit based systems in our experience are the most effective. Pits can be constructed by local labour – and this is a knowledge that is easily available. Pits also need very minimal maintenance, and last for a very long time. So that’s the hidden benefit for many communities.
Leveraging minimal energy use
When people talk about composting, often the first sight that everyone looks at is – what is the technology. Technology sometimes overlooks a simple price – use of energy/electricity to make composting work. When electricity costs go up, it deters communities from keeping their systems work in place.
From our experience of composting for various societies – we know what’s best – working with nature. Which means, working with smart microbial cultures, that work on composting wet waste at the same rate irrespective of weather changes. This provides odour proof technologies. The added benefit from this is that communities incur much less energy, implying smaller electricity bills.
Bringing community engagement
Spaces between buildings, near the compound wall, within the garden area – are great options for anyone to look at community composting. In some cases, even standalone aesthetical composters make a huge sense. Rather than worrying about – ‘log kya kahenge’, let’s look at the perception shift to ‘log kaise saath aayenge’.
Data on how much waste is generated – how much waste is composted – and how much dry waste is sent to recyclers – can provide the right nudge in communities. Organising dry waste and e-waste drives can be a right step in this direction.
In addition to this, the compost that is generated within the society complex – should be given to avid gardeners. These gardeners and their gardens are powerhouses of creation of natural capital. They are potential biodiversity hotspots right in our backyard. Such initiatives, can unleash the community’s full potential – and encourage more conversations in these communities.
Community waste management is about enabling behavior shifts, at multiple levels. When that is the end goal, we know all the other actions happen as a by-product. Rather than looking at waste management, as a compliance – our take is to make it a fun activity that is affordable and doable in the long run.