Honourable Prime Minister: Tackle The Cause, Not The Symptoms!

Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji, through his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has spread massive awareness about the state of sanitation in India. Open deification along with building toilets has been his governments primary focus in the last tenure of his government, with limited emphasis being laid on waste management. It seems that in his second term his government has decided to focus on rural waste management and eliminating or reducing the use of single use plastic and encourage entrepreneurs to com forward with innovative solutions to recycle plastic waste.

Our prime minister has always had his finger on the pulse of the nation, specially trending topics that the youth are discussing on social media platforms, and off late the trending has been that of bashing plastic as the culprit for all that is wrong with the waste management system in India. Sudo environmentalists, insta influencers, their followers are on a social rampage about how single use plastic is responsible for polluting the environment and chocking the oceans. Headline News and sensationalising subject matters that they have little or no information about has become a trend, with hundreds of hash tags related to recycling, zero waste, plastic pollution gaining traction online spreading fear through misinformed information.

Our prime minister should be carful and not fall in the trap of implementing a policy of doing away with single use plastic completely. By definition single use plastic is something that is used once and discarded. PET for example has become the poster child for everything that is wrong about single use plastic to the point that it is becoming socially unacceptable to carry a mineral water bottle in public due to misrepresentation through misinformation about a product that can be recycled at least 6-7 times. If you repeat something enough times people start to believe it, but that does not make it true and such is the case with plastic. Given that there are certain types of plastics, MLP for example that are tough or impossible to recycle as of now, but options have started to emerge.

Attacking the symptoms rather than the cause has led to the wide spread belief that once we ban single use plastic equilibrium will be found and our rivers and oceans will be able to breathe again. This thought process is misplaced for multiple reasons, have we really stopped to think why plastic has become a challenge to handle?

  1. Two parallel systems Organised & Unorganised : The process of collection, transportation, segregation of municipal waste (I am only focusing on MSW here, although the same is true of E-waste also) is mostly done by the unorganised sector in India. Even in cities where the municipalities have tendered out the entire waste management process, it is the unorganised sector that is doing the heavy lifting of door-door collection, segregation, aggregation and reprocessing of waste (processing mostly plastic waste & E-waste). Companies that have been granted the tenders to manage the waste for a city or from a certain part of the city are more than happy to let the arrangement work as they get paid on a tipping fee model, the more they dump at the landfill the more they get paid. Further the unorganised sector is helping them meet certain requirements as mentioned in their tenders, such as door to door collection, segregation and insuring that recyclables are recycled. This leaves organic waste, inert waste, horticulture waste and construction debris left for disposal, which again they only have to collect from a central point and dispose. These are two distinct systems that are operating in complete polarity, one organised (so it claims) and the other completely unorganised.

As the prime minister has stated on more than one occasion, the government has no business being in business, this way of thinking needs to be extended to the waste management sector as a whole, by first providing the sector Industry status & bringing the unorganised sector under the preview of the law.

2. Redefining SWM 2016 Policy For Clarity & Ease of Business: There are some glaring gaps in the current policy document which are hampering the growth of the sector. Take for example Sub point (a) of the current policy document which states the following

“handover segregated wastes to authorised waste pickers or waste collectors as per the direction or notification by the local authorities from time to time”.

The point above clearly states that the waste must be handed over to authorised waste pickers or waste collectors, but there is no policy in place for private companies, waste pickers or the unorganised vendors to apply for such permissions. Most municipalities or authorities are clueless about how authorisation can be given and in absence of proper clarity, simply reduce to provide such permissions. The business if collection, transportation, open segregation and dumping continues in all cities in India and a major reason for this is the lack of participation from private players in absence of clear policy mandate. A detailed policy document with precise steps that need to be taken is available for the reader on my profile under the article section.

3. Building Capacity: Serious capacity needs to be built on the collection, transportation, segregation and treatment sides of the sector as a whole. As previously mention the sector remains unorganised to a great extent with most treatment of plastic waste and E-waste undertaken by the unorganised sector. A portal needs to be developed and marketed to inform the unorganised and organised sector where they can sell their plastic waste so that it is dealt in a manner as prescribed by law. Collection centres across cities need to developed, not by the government but the private sector where people can come deposit their segregated plastic waste and get rewarded for the same. As of now India has many unorganised collection centres spread across neighbourhoods and also a system of collecting recyclables from homes through the kabari (local scrap dealer) network. But there are challenges in the system in regards to trust and transparency of what is happening with the material in terms of how it is stocked and treated. Capacity in terms of collection of waste from residential sector is a huge challenge, as the volume of waste generated daily is low making collection from individual houses unviable unless a heavy user charge is paid by the individual house owner. This is where the unorganised sector can be used as an point of aggregation from where larger traders can collect waste (which is what is happening), but this needs to be formalised and collection centres need to be easily accessible and appealing in the sense that customers are willing to make the effort to transport their waste and deposit it at the said centres.

4. Implementation of current rules: The government is tightening the rope around companies and societies to start segregating and managing their waste in accordance with the law, yet there remains much to be done. Most residential societies are not segregating their waste and some even selling their mixed waste to local rag pickers. The same is the case with most small and large corporations functioning in the country. Waste unfortunately in our country has a legacy mindset attached to it, and we asa nation must over come this in order for us to move ahead in the right direction. The implementation of the current rules need to stricter and must start with the individuals and companies segregating there waste, and paying a user fee in accordance to the amount and type of waste being generated at their end. Take the example of the ban on production of plastic bags under 50 microns, the ban is complete and as notified by the government no organisation is allowed to manufacturer, distribute or sell any plastic item below 50 microns, yet this practise continues.

5. Redesigning the way products are manufactured: Companies need to start redesigning and manufacturer their products in a circular manner so that they can be recycled in perpetuity without loosing strength and chemical composition. This is will reduce the burden on mining raw material to feed the ever growing needs of companies to sell products packaged in materials that can only be down cycled, which is the case in plastic.

The prime Ministers intentions are good but the result of such an action (Banning Single Use Plastic) will be devastating for the economy. Lacks of people are engaged in the process of waste collection, segregation and treatment (plastic waste) in india.

We need to bing them in the legal preview so that the government uses their expertise to address the plastic menace, generate taxable income from them, improve the countries GDP numbers, increase employment numbers and attract much needed investments and innovation in the sector.

In my opinion, serious thought needs to be given at the opportunity of managing the current plastic waste in the country along with that of redesigning and manufacturing products that can be recycled in perpetuity, rather than taking a knee jerk decision that will end up costing the environment and economy more harm than good. The challenge is not plastic, it’s how we have designed the product, a lack of infrastructure to collect, manage and treat it along with misinformation being spread that single use plastic cannot be recycled and ends up in the ocean or rivers.

How Landfills Works

You­ have just finished your meal at a fast food restaurant and you throw your uneaten food, food wrappers, drink cup, utensils and napkins into the trash can. You don’t think about that waste again. On trash pickup day in your neighborhood, you push your can out to the curb, and workers dump the contents into a big truck and haul it away. You don’t have to think about that waste again, either.

But maybe you have wondered, as you watch the trash truck pull away, just where that garbage ends up.

Americans generate trash at an astonishing rate of 4.6 pounds (2.1 kilograms) per day per person, which translates to 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) per year [source: EPA]. This is almost twice as much trash per person as most other major countries. What happens to this trash? Some gets recycled or recovered and some is burned, but the majority is buried in landfills. In this article, we will examine how a landfill is made, what happens to the trash in landfills, what problems are associated with a landfill and how these problems are solved.

Operations –

During landfill operations the waste collection vehicles are weighed at a weighbridge on arrival and their load is inspected for wastes that do not accord with the landfill’s waste acceptance criteria. Afterward, the waste collection vehicles use the existing road network on their way to the tipping face or working front where they unload their load. After loads are deposited, compactors or dozers are used to spread and compact the waste on the working face. Before leaving the landfill boundaries, the waste collection vehicles pass through the wheel cleaning facility. If necessary, they return to the weighbridge in order to be weighed without their load. Through the weighing process, the daily incoming waste tonnage can be calculated and listed in databases. In addition to trucks, some landfills may be equipped to handle railroad containers. The use of ‘rail-haul’ permits landfills to be located at more remote sites, without the problems associated with many truck trips.

Typically, in the working face, the compacted waste is covered with soil daily. Alternative waste-cover materials are several sprayed-on foam products and temporary blankets. Blankets can be lifted into place with tracked excavators and then removed the following day prior to waste placement. Chipped wood and chemically ‘fixed’ bio-solids may also be used as an alternate daily cover. The space that is occupied daily by the compacted waste and the cover material is called a daily cell. Waste compaction is critical to extending the life of the landfill. Factors such as waste compressibility, waste layer thickness and the number of passes of the compactor over the waste affect the waste densities.

Impacts –

A large number of adverse impacts may occur from landfill operations. These impacts can vary: fatal accidents (e.g., scavengers buried under waste piles); infrastructure damage (e.g., damage to access roads by heavy vehicles); pollution of the local environment (such as contamination of groundwater and/or aquifers by leakage and residual soil contamination during landfill usage, as well as after landfill closure); offgassing of methane generated by decaying organic wastes (methane is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, and can itself be a danger to inhabitants of an area); harbouring of disease vectors such as rats and flies, particularly from improperly operated landfills, which are common in developing countries; injuries to wildlife; and simple nuisance problems (e.g., dust, odour, vermin, or noise pollution).

Most Fuel Efficient Car Engine

Most Fuel Efficient Car Engine

Despite shifting into higher gear within the consumer’s green conscience, hybrid vehicles are still tethered to the gas pump via a fuel-thirsty 100-year-old invention: the internal combustion engine.

However, researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90 percent when compared with conventional combustion engines.

The engine has a rotor that’s equipped with wave-like channels that trap and mix oxygen and fuel as the rotor spins. These central inlets are blocked off, building pressure within the chamber, causing a shock wave that ignites the compressed air and fuel to transmit energy.

The Wave Disk Generator uses 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion; standard car engines use just 15 percent. As a result, the generator is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than typical combustion engines.

Researchers estimate the new model could shave almost 1,000 pounds off a car’s weight currently taken up by conventional engine systems.

Last week, the prototype was presented to the energy division of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is backing the Michigan State University Engine Research Laboratory with $2.5 million in funding.

Michigan State’s team of engineers hope to have a car-sized 25-kilowatt version of the prototype ready by the end of the year.

Paper Shredding & Waste Paper Disposal Services

When you use Eco Wise paper shredding services, not only do you enjoy the Peace of Mind knowing all of your documents have been destroyed in front of your eyes but you have also done your part in helping the environment.

  • Recycling Paper
  • Saves energy
  • Creates jobs
  • Prevents emissions of many greenhouse gasses and water pollutants
  • Reduces the need for landfills and incinerators
  • Supplies valuable raw materials to industry
  • Stimulate the growth of greener technologies!!!

Quick Facts:

  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves:
    17 mature trees
    7,000 gallons of water
    3 cubic yards of landfill space
    2 barrels of oil
    4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity – enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months
  • Recycling causes 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution
  • Recycling 1 ton of print or copy paper saves 2 tons of woodRecurring: Scheduled paper shredding services Customers receive Secure Containers Free of Charge. Place the containers where ever your staff finds it most convenient to discard confidential, sensitive information. Leave the staples, paper clips, even binder clips in the paper – our machine will shred everything!
    On your scheduled pick up day, one of our uniformed staff members will come to your office – collect all of the materials from your containers and shred everything on-site, and recycle the shredded materials.
    One Time PURGE: No job is too large or small Eco Wise is your answer – cleaning out the garage, old tax documents, a warehouse, you name it. Eco Wise will bring one of our shredding machine to your location where we will shred everything onsite. Let our powerful shredding machines free up valuable space and get rid of unwanted documentation.
  • Contact Us for a free Quote! – Feel free to Call us directly (0120) 4212110 or send us a e-mail to receive a quote in writing.
  • When you choose Eco Wise you join a larger movement to save the environment. After we complete the On-Site shredding process, we work with qualified paper mills to securely recycle your shredded paper. Visit our Green Facts to find out more about what you can do for the environment by choosing Eco Wise.
  • Have special shredding needs? Ask us about our Product Destruction Services – we gladly shred materials that might not be so easy to destroy

Hydrogen to Energy

Success for Korean Plasma Gasification Fuel Cell Demo

27 October 2011

The fuel cell system supplied by Canadian fuel cell company, Ballard Power Systems to Korean plasma gasification firm GS Platech for a waste to energy demonstration facility is now operating successfully to provide power to the local South Korean electricity grid.

GS Platech’s pilot plant in Cheongsong is South Korea’s first commercial plasma gasification and vitrification system which utilises the GSplatech’s proprietary non-transferred plasma torch (200 kW X 2) and plasma cyclonic gasifier technology.

The facility is capable of producing sufficient high purity hydrogen to generate 50 kW power through the Ballard fuel cell stacks – supplied by Dantherm Power, Ballard’s backup power systems company.

“This is the first ever demonstration of a waste to energy system incorporating both of these technologies,” claims Jesper Themsen, managing director and CEO of Dantherm Power.

GS Platech says that it intends to further promote this solution to new customers worldwide and, to this end, recently hosted tours of the demonstration site in conjunction with the International Solid Waste Association World Congress 2011.

Attendees were shown the potential for this waste to energy system to address two key environmental issues in tandem: environmentally responsible waste treatment; and clean power production.

The project was undertaken as a national research project of the Korean Ministry of Knowledge and Economy with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment, under the framework of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

Eco Anxiety & Green Washing: The Priming Effect

Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and on various other social media platforms it is next to impossible to avoid articles and posts about how we are ruining our environment. Fast fashion, single use plastic and now eating red meat are all adding to the ever growing noise about the effects of consumerism on the environment. Some individuals are quick to jump on the business opportunities this chaos of information and misinformation has spread. You need not look too far for proof of this! Check out all the Instagram pages selling eco products, propagating zero waste lifestyles and guilting individuals into living their lives a certain way.

Eco anxiety! Yes this is a condition that is spreading rapidly and being fueled by mediums such as Instagram, Facebook and to a lesser extent Linkedin. The truth is that we are living in times where everyone has the capability to voice their opinion via using the internet as a medium and various social networking sites as their voice. In this environment of constant information overload it is hard to decipher true information from misinformation, marketing from sales, and propaganda from real concern.

What is being said & by whom: It is imperative that we stop reading just the headlines and basing our decisions on it, due to it being shared by some one in authority, a celebrity or someone we look up too. Take for example the massive campaign to stop the use of single use plastic undertaken by various NGO’s and corporates, shifting the onus onto the consumer to either stop buying these products completely or to insure that the consumer plays its part in helping recycle them. On the face of it there seems nothing wrong with this and in fact many might even say that it’s a step towards securing our future! But dive in deep and you will find that many of these NGO’s informing us about recycling and the adverse effects of consumerism are being funded by the same organisations who are responsible for manufacturing or distributing these products in the market at a mass scale. As per companies and their feel good campaigns, where they clean a neighbourhood, donate money to an environmental cause and pledge that they will do away with manufacturing, packaging and distribution of single use plastic, it is just a farce in most cases to change customer perception and shift responsibility onto the consumer. Most of you must be thinking, how the hell do I make time to research and find out the truth about every piece of information being put out there? You are correct its not possible, but what is possible is for us to stop regurgitating information that we have little knowledge about. As more an more people start sharing and spreading the same information across social platforms, it starts to alter mindsets and over a period of time it embeds it’s self in our automatic thinking system. For example when you hear the word plastic what is the first thing that came to your mind? Pollution, recycling, waste, ocean etc! The international best selling author Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” explains the concept of Priming beautifully!

Priming: Extract from the book (Page 52: Thinking Fast & Slow: Daniel Kahneman)

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word DAY? The researchers tallied the frequency of responses such as “night” “day”, “sunny” or “long” In the 1980 psychologist discovered that exposure to a word causes immediate and measurable changes in the ease with which many related words can be evoked. If you have recently seen or herd the word Eat, you are temporarily more likely to complete the word fragment SO_P as soup than SOAP. The opposite would happen of course if you had just seen WASH. We call this a priming effect and say that the idea of EAT primes the idea of SOUP, and that WASH primes SOAP.”

I could keep quoting from the book, but I would prefer that you read it instead as it is sure to make you question your deeper beliefs and profoundly change the way you think. The question that we need to ask our selves is why are companies not changing the way they manufacturer products? Why is production not being looked at from a point of making it circular? And why is the narrative being shifted onto the consumer? There are no simple answers, from economic reasons such legacy investments made in infrastructure which will cost millions if not billions of dollars to change, to convenience both in terms of pricing and packaging from the consumers perspective to policy and willingness of governments to take tough decisions.

In all off this we the consumer have tremendous power to make change happen by voting with our wallet and voicing our opinion (based on facts and proper understanding of the subject matter) to compel companies to change the way they manufacturer and design products. Yes our rapid pace of consumption is to partly blame for the environmental mess that we find ourselves in, but I per say cannot stop living, cannot stop eating meat because the UN decided that doing so is gravely harming the planet, or stop buying products because they are packaged in plastic, or feel guilty every time I buy bottled water! We globally have enough financial resources to rectify and make farming more effective and productive. We have the ability to reduce the use of water, chemical fertilisers and feed our farm bred animals diets that reduce Enteric fermentation (natural digestive process that occurs in animals) that accounts for 40% of the agriculture production emissions. The real question is why are we as consumers not asking the tough questions?

The process starts we us first, and the only way that we can actually change the course of where we are headed is by making educated decisions about our personal beliefs and by putting in the effort to really understand the information that we are consuming.