Waste management: Gurugram housing companies lead the way

From segregation and recycling to making compost, residents handle waste responsibly and make sure it doesn’t end up at the Bandhwari landfill.

Omaxe Nile, a collective housing company with around 400 apartments in Sector 49, Gurugram, generates around one ton of solid waste every day, including 350 kg of kitchen waste. But unlike many other companies, locals here make sure all their waste is recycled and doesn’t end up in the Bandhwari landfill on the outskirts.

It all started three years ago when Jagriti Jagat, an interpersonal skills trainer who had been sorting waste in her home for over a decade, and her educator friend Mandeep Bakshi, decided to make it a campaign involving everyone. residents of the gated community. . The duo are helped by Tarun Lakhwani, a member of the Residents Welfare Association (RWA).

In addition to the usual wet and dry waste, residents separate hazardous and electronic waste and hand them over to different agencies for recycling according to standards. Wet waste is turned into compost.

“Many agencies have approached us offering to pay 3,000 to 4,000 per month in exchange for collecting our dry waste. But we found that these agencies removed some of the waste for recycling and dumped the rest in Bandhwari. So we refused. The agency now hired for dry waste collection, although free, ensures that it is all recycled and reused. What is the point of making so much effort, if the waste ends up in the landfill? Mrs. Jagat asks.

Representatives from Ecogreen, the waste collection agency appointed by the municipality of Gurugram, also approached the company on several occasions, but failed to meet its criteria.

But the journey was not easy. To be with, the trio, with the support of the RWA, facilitated training sessions in waste sorting for all domestic helpers, went door to door to explain the concept to residents and the need to do so. Regular audits are now carried out to ensure strict compliance with waste sorting instructions. The company imposes fines ranging from 50 to 150 per day for those who do not play by the rules.

‘Waste reduction’

Moving beyond routine waste management, the company is now focusing on “waste reduction”. Residents are not allowed to use liners (garbage bags) in garbage cans; gardeners, security guards and maintenance staff were given jugs and glasses to minimize the use of disposables; and the company’s stores have been ordered not to use polythene bags. “Disposable items are not allowed during community activities within the company,” says Ms. Jagat.

Meetings with residents and actions involving children are regularly organized for constant motivation.

But all of this activism comes at a price, says Bakshi. “People are laughing at you. You gain a bad reputation for constantly harassing them. It’s a thankless job, but passion continues to drive you, ”she says.

Ms. Jagat regrets that several collective accommodation companies, the generators of bulk waste, which surround them are completely indifferent to the sorting of waste. “Awareness and motivation don’t work for everyone. Enforcement by the authorities is necessary. But it is completely missing, ”says Ms. Jagat.

Residents of The Castle, another collective housing company with around 40 apartments in Area 56, have been forced to turn to waste management during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. Ecogreen’s garbage collection became erratic during containment, and the piling up of garbage inside the company created foul odors and attracted rodents.

Practice becomes passion

“We have adopted waste separation and composting to deal with the problem of waste growth in society. But now it has become a passion for us. And no one is willing to go back to the old method of waste disposal, ”said Lt. Col. (retired) Rajan Prabhakar, the force behind the initiative.

Mr Prabhakar also involved the neighboring housing company, Mariners Home, to make the project profitable. “Being in the military, I look for feasible solutions, not theoretical ones. Simple and economical solutions are durable, unlike complicated methods. Instead of separating the waste in four ways, we just separate it as wet and dry, ”says Prabhakar.

For less than 2,000 per month, the company manages to make compost from wet waste and hands the dry waste to a recycling agency. “We have stopped giving our waste to Ecogreen. This is a monthly saving of 1,500 taken by the agency from collection costs, ”explains Mr. Prabhakar. In addition, the company earns a few hundred dollars selling the compost and leachate.

Although Mr Prabhakar is ready to hand over the baton to the new RWA by the end of the year, he hopes the new committee will continue with the sorting of waste. “I think people have adopted waste sorting. It’s a cleaner and more responsible way to deal with waste. However, if the new RWA reverts to the old system, it will have to undo a lot of things done in the past year. It won’t be easy, ”says Prabhakar.

Spread across 37 acres with 1,500 apartments and 37 villas, Orchid Petals, one of the Millennium City’s largest collective housing companies, has been successfully sorting waste for over four years now.

Organic composting plant

“We generate around 1.5 tonnes of wet waste per day and have achieved 85% source segregation. With the increase in waste production over the years, we have switched to better composting technologies and set up our own organic composting plant. We hand over our dry and hazardous waste to different agencies ensuring that nothing ends up in Bandhwari, ”explains Sachin Gupta, board member of the Orchid Petals Residents Association (OPRA).

Rajiv Asthana, general secretary of OPRA, says the company adopted waste sorting for the sake of the environment, but there were challenges. “Being a large company, it took us almost six months to train housekeepers, maintenance staff and residents before we could introduce waste sorting. We also incurred an additional monthly cost of around 1 lakh due to the hiring of nearly half a dozen housekeeping staff, and also expended on materials and machines for composting, ”said Mr. Asthana.

The company’s efforts in waste management were also praised by the district authorities during the Republic Day program last year.

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