Category Archives: Recycle

CII jury offers award for best waste management practices across India.

waste--621x414The CII awards for best Waste Management Practices was held in Bangalore last year in late November. BCIL was invited to be a member in the six-member jury panel of distinguished professionals who chose the awards for best management practices that the CII offered in early December to a rostrum of Indian companies for their innovations and commitment to recycle, recover industrial waste. The spectrum of practices across 300 entries.

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Bhaskar Save : “Gandhi of Natural Farming”

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as “Gandhi of Natural Farming”, is a 92 year old man who has redefined the principles of natural farming incorporating Gandhian philosophy into the agricultural practices. He owns a 14 acre orchard farm, with 10 acres covered by a mixed crop of coconut and chikoo (sapota) and a few tree species. Another 2 acres is used for cultivating seasonal field crops in an organically sustainable manner. And the rest 2 acres is a nursery for coconut saplings that grow well in the coastal region of the location.

“Coooperation is the fundamental Law of nature”, reads the sign at Bhaskar Save’s farm, Kalpavruksha, located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

Bhaskar supports the theory that nature is only creator. He says that there are six factors of nature that interact with sunlight and maintain a balance in Nature’s grand symphony. These are air, water and soil along with the three orders of life – vanaspatisrushti (plant kingdom), jeevsrushti (insects and smaller organisms) and pranisrushti (animal kingdom).

Today’s farming practices are more economy centric as opposed to sustainable farming. The pressure on farmers for increase in yield has led them to resort to measures that are unhealthy for the soil and the organisms in them. Excessive uses of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have direct effect on soil organisms and on us when we consume this infected harvest. Later these pollute the water bodies and aquifers.

Save adds,” Trying to increase Nature’s ‘productivity,’ is the fundamental blunder that highlights the arrogant ignorance of agricultural scientists.  Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most abundant in her yield. When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months, where is the need to increase its productivity! What is required at most is to help ensure the necessary natural conditions for optimal, wholesome yield.”

Eight years ago, Save wrote an open letter plea to M.S. Swaminathan, then chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, highlighting the issue of farmer committing suicide across the nation. His letter presented a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policies favoring chemical farming and made a plea for fundamental reorientation.

Bhaskar Save’s farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labor for harvesting) are minimal and external inputs almost zero.

The farm will soon launch an in-house training program at the farm to educate farmers on natural and organic farming practices.

This will change the way we grow our food, the way we enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has to offer in its purest and sweetest form.

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WaterBangalore is largely dependent on groundwater. The largest source of water in Bangalore apart from Cauvery water is from borewells.

We are pulling water that has been down there for hundreds of years, that is somebody else’s right as much as it is ours. And the breach of this right can be clearly seen with unequal resource allocation.

How do we get Ground water?

We all live above spaces between soil particles and cracks, fissures and faults in the rocks, which are known as aquifers. Water in these aquifers is rainwater that has trickled down and percolated into the earth. The aquifers are spread independent of property or administrative boundaries. Each time we pull out water from the ground, we are possibly denying someone else of their source of water.

The geology of Bangalore, and most of the Deccan plateau, is hard-rock geology. This type of geological setting is composed of three layers- the top soil where the plants grow, the weathered zone below the top soil and the hard rock. The weathered zone is actually crushed version of the hard rock which holds water in the pores and spaces in between the particles.

When it rains and water percolates down, it passes through the weathered zone and then into the hard rock fissures. A large connected set of fissures, in effect one single body of water under the ground, is called an aquifer. Aquifers in the hard rock are called ‘confined aquifers’ as they are under pressure. Water in the weathered zone is shallow and is referred to as shallow unconfined aquifer and they can travel laterally into the soil. Open wells up to depths of around 80 feet in Bangalore were meant to access water in the shallow unconfined aquifers. Over time these have been dried out, except in certain parts of Bangalore. After open wells started drying, people started digging borewells which were going deeper and picking up water from the fissures in rocks – or from confined aquifers. It is important to note that confined aquifers take more time to recharge the unconfined aquifers.

It’s difficult to predict where you get water in deeper confined aquifers.  At depths of 100 to 650 feet, there are a lot of fissures through which water trickles in. There is no way to predict, other than testing each site.

When you dig a borewell and start pulling water out, you are emptying the water in the aquifers which is a finite amount. The process by which water enters into these fissures is called recharge. This can be natural or artificial. Since there is only a finite amount of water underneath, we cannot endlessly keep pumping out water.

As a city, we need to understand how much water is available. This is not an easy task. All the residents in an area need to share where they have dug the bore well, how deep did it go, at what depth did they get water, etc. The data collected across the city can help get a better picture of the city’s aquifers.

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Waste not, want not By Dr. Chandrashekar Hariharan

A green home doesn’t only mean eco-friendly construction, it means an efficient space that reduces dependence on government infrastructure for water, energy and waste

Waste not, want not

 Let’s first make the distinction, for the sake of convenience and clarity, between an ecologically sustainable home and a green home. The former is something that you build with materials that make for the least use of exhaustible natural resources — a typical farmer’s house is the best example, with a combination of clay walls, cowdung surfaces, thatch roofs, limestone-coated walls. There have been homes in the urban context that have attempted to use some ‘traditional’ elements but not always with success on reducing use of natural resources.
What is labelled in current times as a ‘green home’ is what you ‘architect’ and ‘engineer’ in terms of solutions for a regular urban home, taking into account use of building materials for floors, walls, roofs and windows, the use of systems and technologies that reduce consumption of water and energy without compromising comfort or convenience the way you define them as a dweller. If you are willing to spend a little more as capital cost at the start, you can secure savings into the future that can help you recoup your additional capital cost over five to seven or 10 years, depending on what the feature is that you are adding to your ‘green home’.

Green homes can help you save as much 30 to 50 per cent in your energy bills. With the right elements in place, you can rely less on fresh water and therefore increase water security. Beyond such savings, green homes can help you generate some wealth from waste, by managing its conversion into either manure or compost, or even energy for your kitchen. The important thing is that a ‘green home’ in the urban context will help and enable you to reduce your dependence on government infrastructure for water, energy and waste.

The current green market for buildings is focusing on rainwater harvesting for every building, waste water treatment plants that offer 100 per cent recycled water for use, and introducing energy efficiency in the use of pumps and heavy-duty electrical equipment in buildings.

Builders should take practical positions. They should not adopt a textbook approach to sustainability. It has to be replicable, and sometimes scalable. We address the low-hanging fruits that are easier to pick both on demand-side and supply-side management of aspects of water, energy, waste: rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, ‘Grow Our Own Water’ plans that ensure independence from municipal water supply, use deep aquifer water, natural air-conditioning systems are a few examples of such strategic approaches.

We should look for upstream carbon-effectiveness — use of non-river sand based concrete, triple blend concrete, lighter building blocks, debris used for road subgrades, optimising structural inputs for framed structures, establishing micro-climate right at the stage of design and not as an afterthought…. the list is truly long.

The vision is simple: every building must drop demand for freshwater by 40 per cent by voluntary compliance, or by law. The same holds good for power. We should have a drop in demand by at least 40 per cent, with investments made by the building industry for energy generation on their own without dependence on the grid for such local power. All industries should reduce their demand by a minimum 40 per cent for power from governments and local bodies. And they should voluntarily install recharge wells for every borewell that draws from deep aquifers.

Governments don’t offer solutions that are creative. They destroy resources that have been built by earth over many thousand millennia — indiscriminate extraction is only one example of such acts. Governments, as they are structured in India, are simply not equipped to offer solutions into this future before us for these resources and their sensitive management.

At the core, there is only one challenge: consumer behaviour and human behaviour. Can this change? We must not just buy what we need, we have to “buy into” what we need. This means that we as citizens who can afford a certain lifestyle, must bring unto ourselves the joy of responsible buying, and consuming. We have to realise that less than 10 per cent of India’s and the world’s population actually consumes 80 per cent of the world’s natural resources. The poor do not have the money to fulfill their want to consume — not that their aspirations are any different from those of the urban rich. So the single challenge is in bringing about this joy of responsible buying and knowing the significance of what we are buying into.

However, there’s a silver lining. Over just the last four years, the 12-year-old CII Indian Green Building Council alone has managed to certify over 500 million sq ft of commercial spaces. This figure is set to touch the one billion mark (for commercial buildings alone) by 2015. This is because of the clear advantage that commercial builders see in sharp reduction [over 30 per cent] in post-occupancy costs of such green buildings. This is a major draw among B2B tenants that such buildings attract as clients.

The performance has been even more encouraging on the residential sector front, with over 800 million sq ft of IGBC-green-rated buildings coming up across India. Between the GOI’s GRIHA certification and the Pune-based EcoHousing Rating System, there is another 100 million sq ft of such residential and commercial buildings that have been certified over the same period of four years. The downside is that this accounts for less than two per cent of the entire building/construction industry total footprint of buildings in India. There is a very long way to go.

The green market for home appliances and consumer durables is going to see a major and dramatic shift in the near future. All air-conditioners in the Indian and the world market will shift to inverter-based ACs, which will drop energy consumption by 30 to 70 per cent! The current market for ACs is at about 3-3.5 million per annum. This is set to rise to 6.5 million by 2015. The drop in energy demand therefore will be significant in the decade ahead. Wireless energy — like wireless telephony that came in the mid-90s — is the next big game-changer in green development.
If you step back to discern the longer-term trend, you will see green and energy-efficient buildings are here to stay. zz

(The writer is executive chairman and co-founder of BCIL Zed Homes)

Rainwater harvesting? What’s that?

getimageEven After Many Deadlines To Make It Mandatory, Residents Of Some Areas Think RWH Is A New Concept Many Prefer To Buy Tanker Water Rather Than Install The System.

Bangalore: Deadlines would have come and gone. Still many Bangaloreans are clueless about rainwater harvesting (RWH), though it is compulsory to have it in most residential plots, with conservation of water being the buzzword.

With supply of Cauvery river water to the city from KRS dam threatening to be reduced to a trickle soon, and no alternatives visible in the long-term, there is a sense of urgency to adopt rainwater harvesting. But residents of Bangalore are sparing little thought to it, and are instead paying through their nose to buy private tanker water and cribbing about it later.

Asked why she has not installed RWH, Mukhteshwari J, homemaker from Rajarajeshwarinagar, said: “I have not heard about it. It seems to be a fairly new concept. How do we do it and is there any rule which compels us to make arrangements?”  When TOI reporter explained the concept, she replied: “We have to get hold of plumbers, undertake works for days to set up a sump and fit additional pipes to collect rainwater from the rooftop. Who has the time to monitor all this?”

Usha Srinath candidly admitted that it is easy to dial an agency to get a watertanker and spend Rs 3,000 a month than build a sump and store rainwater. “I require water tankers every three days. I don’t have the infrastructure to store rainwater like a sump or a tank on my roof or in the garden. All I have to do is dial up the tanker agent and he will get me water anytime of the day,” she told TOI.

Dasarahalli, Peenya, HRBR Layout, KR Puram and W h i t e f i e l d are becoming deserts of sorts with  most people not getting piped water supply and borewells, the only source of water, drying up. Here too there is an apathetic attitude towards installing RWH among the residents who are either very poor or belong to upper middle class.

“I haven’t yet thought of installing RWH in my house because the consumption is very little. I live with my ailing father and a servant but who will help me find the right person and ensure that I am not charged more than the market rate?” said Reshma Kaur, senior citizen from Borewell Road in Whitefield. (Inputs from Kinnari, Sanjana Vasudevan and Deepika Burli)

Pilgrim flow to Kudala Sangama takes a big hit

The other side of the water crisis in Bagalkot district is that tourist inflow has been hit. This is because pilgrims visiting Kudala Sangama seem to be having second thought, thanks to the severe drought and both Krishna and Malaprabha rivers drying up. Pilgrims who come to pray at the Aikya Mantapa or the holy Samadhi of Basavanna, the 12th century revolutionary saint, take a holy dip in the rivers. But in the past 15 days, the number of tourists has decreased from 1,000 to 700. However, the Kudala Sangama Development Authority has made arrangements to supply water through tankers.

Fountains at Brindavan too become a casualty

Planning to visit Brindavan Gardens? Here is a dampener. The beautiful fountains have gone dry because of low water level in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS). Officials of Cauvery Niravari Nigam Limited say that about 20 fountains on the south bank have stopped functioning. But those on the north bank, including the famous musical fountain, are still working. They too will cease to function once the water level plummets to below the 50 ft mark, says an official. This is because most fountains work depending on the water pressure in the dam. The next on the hit list could be the boating facility.

Making Fuel From Filth…

IMG_1195An undulation of hills rise along the eastern fringe of Delhi, towering above the surrounding flat land, and giving a cluster of apartment buildings in the distance a run for their height. They’re easily mistaken for an extension of the Aravalli range that skirts the city — until a putrefying stench hits your nostrils.

As you move closer the mirage vanishes rapidly. In the mid-day glare of the summer sun the hills pixelate into the mounds of garbage of the Ghazipur landfill. Layer upon layer of plastic and refuse reveal themselves compacted into layers so dense that roads have been built on them. Up these, edge massive dump trucks carrying more of the city’s waste.

With more than 14 million tonnes of waste, this is one of the largest landfills in the country. If all the waste here was packed into neat cubes with sides of 1 metre each and lined up, it would stretch 4,500 km, far exceeding India’s northsouth extent. By the Delhi government’s own admission, this landfill has far exceeded its capacity, but for the lack of other landfills, it continues to be used.

In this bleakness, however, hope is emerging in the form of an incipient carpet of grass that covers one of the mounds. Atop this mound, the stench is miraculously absent. If it weren’t for the garbage in the backdrop and the kites circling overhead, it’d be easy to imagine this a green hill.

This is the result of a unique experiment being conducted by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation in collaboration with Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), which aims to scientifically close landfills and capture the methane that they release into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas will then be converted into compressed natural gas (CNG). If successful, it will be a template for other landfills in the country.

Once closed, the landfill will not discharge toxins like lead and mercury into groundwater, or particulate matter into the air.

Of Ghazipur’s 70 acres, 10 were set aside for the project. The topmost layer of garbage in this section was, according to Pradeep Khandelwal, the chief engineer of the municipal corporation, about three years old. The lowest layers which lay more than 25 metres below, dated back 10 years.

“Garbage starts generating methane (natural gas) after three to four years,” says Khandelwal, “and production peaks at 10 years.” After 20 years, methane production drops drastically. This site would, in effect, produce significant quantities of methane for the next 10-12 years.

Landfills, After coal mining, are the biggest source of methane in India. The gas constitutes nearly 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in India; and Indian waste with its high organic content (over 50 percent) produces twice the global average for methane produced by waste.

To start with, the steep slopes of the largest mound on the site were contoured into gentle inclines, after which a 20cm thick layer of soil was put on them. The entire hill was then shrouded in a high strength, impermeable plastic sheet that would trap the gases, and also prevent rainwater from mixing with the garbage.

infoOn top of this went ribbed, wavy plastic netting, designed to hold a 45cm thick layer of soil on which the grass was planted.

It sounds straightforward enough, but on a mound with an area of many hundreds of square metres, it was a mammoth task.

Twenty boreholes extending to depths of between 15m and 25m were then drilled across the mound, in which 15cm wide pipes were placed. These pipes, with slits running along their length, would collect the landfill gases.

To prevent garbage from choking these slits, a layer of gravel was placed around the pipes. The top of each pipe was then sealed shut.

The gas wells were then connected to each other. A slight vacuum created by a fan connected to this network is enough to draw the gases out, says T Nandakumar of GAIL’s research department.

High moisture content is essential for the production of the methane, and to achieve this the thick contaminated sludge that leaches down to the base of the landfill is pumped back to the top. It is released under the impermeable plastic casing to percolate down again.

Currently, the gases are fed into a ‘flaring tower’, a 30-foot-high metal pipe surrounded by gauges and machinery, in a small lot adjoining the mound. Here they are burnt, converting methane (which is 21 times more damaging a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) into carbon dioxide. This, however, is just an interim measure.

In a few months time, the gases will be sent to a purification system where methane will be separated from other gases like hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. It will then be concentrated into compressed natural gas (CNG) for use as fuel.

The only precedent to this project in India is a project at the Gorai landfill on the outskirts of Mumbai. There, however, the landfill was closed entirely; and the captured gases were flared to produce electricity. But, Nandkumar says, “variations in gas output made electricity generation erratic. As a result, electricity could not be fed into the grid.”

In a little over a month that the gas wells at Ghazipur have been operational, production has been ramping up steadily — starting from 100 cubic metres an hour, now up to 300 cubic metres an hour. Nandakumar expects this to reach 500 cubic metres by the end of April. Half of this will be natural gas. That, compressed, will yield over 2,000 litres of CNG per hour.

However, landfill gas production is temperature sensitive, and there are likely to be large seasonal variations in output. Here, unlike in the case of the Gorai landfill, that won’t be a problem since the gases will be stored.

Once complete, the project will be eligible for carbon credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In a document submitted to the UN GAIL claims that it will, till 2022, lead to a greenhouse gas reduction equivalent to 22,306 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

“Not only will we earn credits for converting methane to less damaging carbon dioxide,” says Nandakumar, “we will also get credits for replacing petrol and diesel with the CNG produced.”

These credits will offset part of the 33 crore cost of the project, but for Nandakumar, it’s the environmental benefits that are more important.

Dr Mohammad Emran Khan of Jamia Millia Islamia University, an expert on energy recovery from waste, also believes that the most important aspect of this project is to test “technical viability under Indian conditions rather than economic viability”. According to him, the technologies for purification of landfill gases are commercially established in other parts of the world, but have not yet been tried in India (where waste is not segregated).

Atop the experimental mound, the fresh grass is being watered. A couple of rag picker girls have wandered across from an adjacent smoldering mountain of garbage. Where will they go if all of Ghazipur is reclaimed? “We’ll have to move somewhere else I guess,” says one pausing. They don’t seem to have given this eventuality much thought.

For now, however, this green hill, the first of the nascent Ghazipur range, is a miraculous respite. Up here, the bustle of Delhi seems far away. The girls settle down on the grass and start splashing each other with water.

If everything you buy becomes waste,where will we put it all?

dustbinThrowing something away means losing the chance to reuse materials and can contribute to methane(the most potent greenhouse gas)emissions from landfills. Electronics are only recycled at a rate of 15% globally. Recycling appropriate materials and composting food waste reduces the impact of landfills as well as the demand on our natural resources to produce materials. Learn about recycling opportunities in your community and support a more resource-efficient Green Economy. Green Up!
At ZED Habitat there is Zero export of waste : Effluent waste management with in-house tertiary waste water system;grey and black water segregation at source and treatment also done separately; vermi composting for organic manure generation;responsible disposal of clinical and electronic waste;localised scientific landfill for clinical waste.

Green Tech and Sustainable methods

11Your tap water is cleaner than you think

Cities waste water for luxury! Most institutions and households in the cities are supplied with soft water. They blindly install Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems, which waste more water than they purify- almost in the ration of 60:40.

All housing and office buildings have single pipe connections,which supply drinking water even for flushing toilets. Not every one uses the modern commode which has dual mode of flushing. At one flush, more than 10 liters of precious drinking water is lost! At ZED we use Low-flow fixtures that curtail the net water demand by as much as 30,000 liters a year of fresh water saved. Grey and black water segregation at source and treatment is also done separately.

1Standby mode is like a leaky tap

2700 million units of electricity is lost annually through appliances in standby mode. Put off your TV sets,set-top boxes,and personal computers. Rural poor has very small standby consumption,followed by urban slums. Urban middle class has the highest standby consumption.

IMG_0319Recycling wasted electricity from lifts

Just like metals and plastics,energy can also be recycled. Elevators and escalators fitted with regenerative drive technology allow the recovery of the energy used to move them up and down. This energy is then converted for use elsewhere in the building;in elevators,as much as 50% of the total energy used can be recovered this way.

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If possible, could any of you please collect one sided used paper thrown away by people in your office..

Waste-Paper-BP1Dear friends,

Greetings from Thulir.

If possible, could any of you please collect one sided used paper thrown away by people in your office and send them  by ordinary post/ parcel to Thulir? Our postal address is given below. We need them for our students to write, draw etc.  We require a huge quantity of paper and  we feel that using  one side used paper instead of buying new is environmentally more sustainable.

Professor Ravindran used to collect one side paper and bring till he was in Chennai. Now that he has shifted out  to Mettupalayam he does not have access any more. For the first time in 9 years we have bought paper in Thulir for children’s use.

Thank you for your time and effort,

With best wishes,

The Thulir Team.

Anuradha and Krishna

THULIR, Sittlingi, Theerthamalai

P.O.,  Dharmapuri Dt., Tamil Nadu — 636906, INDIA 

Web site:


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