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Intelligent Mixing of Manpower and Automation

by Clean India Journal Editor
1 comment

While wet waste is compostable, dry waste which include construction material, tyres, e-waste, plastic, glass, metal and others, end up in the landfill. There are seven types of plastics with unique properties. Every other product uses some form of plastic and forms an important part of our life. We need to look at how plastic is used and can be disposed of K Ganesh, Sr. General Manager Corporate Affairs, CSR cum Chief Sustainability Officer, BISLERI and Kaustubh Phadke, General Manager & Country Head, Global Cement Concrete Association (GCCA) India, deliberate on waste that can be converted into resource and that can be upcycled for reuse.

What is the percentage of savings you can look at while reusing or recycling as against buying a new product?

K Ganesh: PET bottles are recycled up to 90-95%. They are used for making fabric, yarn, t-shirts, shoes, and caps. New regulations from the Central Pollution Control Board and MoEFCC require us to use recycled content with packaging obligations. PET is already 90-95% recycled and with obligation reaches 100%. We would be the first in the world to achieve that figure. Some plastics like PVC do not have recycling properties. Multi-layer plastics or soft plastics which are used in chips packets and biscuit packaging cannot be recycled and are used as plastic sheets. They go into the cement kiln for firing or are used in road construction.

Sustainable plastic packaging is reused. Glass gets reused as itself. If the volume of glass used is the same as plastic, there is a huge quantity of silica extracted since glass is based on soil and sand.

How much can you save by replacing coal with waste in a kiln? Where is the saving when it comes to using a recycled product?

Kaustubh Phadke: In terms of net zero for the cement sector it is quite a challenge because CO2 is released in its manufacture. The temperature required is 15000C for which fuels like PET coke and coal are used. Alternative fuel used in India has 5-6 % significantly lower emission.

One of the goals is to increase alternative fuel use to 25-30% by 2030. Globally, there are cement plants running at 90% AFR (Alternate Fuels and Raw Material). The quality of waste given to cement plants in Europe, or in the US is vastly different from what we get in India. Only cities like Indore, Jaipur or Vellore in TN segregate waste for the cement plant based on parameters like calorific value greater than 2500 kcal/kg, low chloride content, low moisture content and less heavy metal.

Once the waste is received, it needs to be pre-processed. Moisture is to be removed, it needs to be mixed with the fuel and pulverized, homogenized and then fed to the kiln. There is a cost involved in making it suitable for feed. The cement plants however still pay the municipal waste generators when delivery ought to be at zero cost.

Plastic waste is easier to manage and feed in the kiln. Cement kiln companies are paying plastic waste suppliers and with the new EPR regulations, there are credits generated which they submit to the manufacturer or the owner of PIBOs. The cement plant plays the role of both consumer and disposer of plastic waste. Though there are variations in the quality of municipal waste, the quality generated from cement industries is uniform.

What needs to be segregated from MSW for it to have better calorific value?

Waste which is non-compostable and non-recyclable can be taken by the cement plant. What is required is less than 25% moisture content and calorific value of 2500 and above. These are the limiting factors. There was a guideline released by the ministry of housing and urban affairs in 2018 which said that within a radius of 100km, cement companies could take the waste at a cost but if the distance was beyond 200km, the municipal corporation had to send it to the cement kiln. This is not being followed unfortunately.

The transportation cost beyond 200km is too much to serve the purpose of what we are doing.

Kaustubh Phadke: Plants in Jaipur, Indore and Vellore have an agency that has set up a waste segregator plant within the MSW processing facility. If you are generating 100% municipal waste, around 18-20% is an RDF (Refused Derived Fuel) which is neither biodegradable nor combustible. The agencies segregate, reduce moisture content and send it to the cement plant in bail-form. The cement companies in turn have put up shredders to shred the material making it fit to be mixed with coal or pet coke. It is then sent to the cement kiln. Not all municipal corporations have made that effort because they find it convenient to dispose of it on available lands. That mindset has to change.

K Ganesh: The municipal corporation and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs play an important role in source segregation. While households do waste segregation, the municipal waste collector dumps it all together in a truck which has a single compartment. It goes to MRF collection centres or to the landfill.

The municipal corporation’s latest notification states that all corporations should have their material recovery facilities, that the segregation must happen properly, that only the wet waste goes for composting and dry waste to the respective recyclers. It could be glass, corrugated sheet, plastic bottle or even pouches that go to the right stream for getting recycled and you will get a value product out of that instead of burning it in an incinerator.

When you talk about the economics of waste, what can be done at homes for segregation? What kind of initiatives do you think the municipal corporations can take?

K Ganesh: EPR regulation was introduced during 2018-19. It is applicable for large and medium-scale industries, but not for the 70-80% of small and micro industries in India. That needs to be controlled. As a responsible company, we have a program called ‘Bottle for Change,’ wherein we are approaching schools, colleges, corporations, universities, and municipal corporations, educating them about the plastic they are using and disposing them responsibly.

There is a team which can collect and recycle them. This program was started in 2017 and we are successfully running it, working with 20 municipal corporations and more than 4500 housing societies. We work with premium educational institutions all over the country including Amity, Narsee Monjee, IITs and IIMs, wherein we inculcate the habit in the youth, telling them that any material they use must be properly disposed for recycling later. We are changing the mindset of people and we have reached eight lakh people through this programme. It is an ongoing process.

How can the municipal corporation ensure segregation at source?

Kaustubh Phadke: Getting uniform quality waste is first and foremost. Municipal corporations need to enter performance-based contracts with the waste processor as it is an outsourced activity. Since the maximum amount of plastic is PET at least 95% of plastic gets segregated. The plastic component doesn’t enter RDF. Then can it not be recycled and reversed? However, even that material is going to the landfill and consuming space.

In Nashik, the corporation has contracted with an external agency. There’s a clause in the contract that measures how much RDF can be generated and sold. This works to the advantage of the corporation, as the there is no money received by the corporation. The plant is operated by Nashik Municipal Waste. They are operating it well and are looking at mining legacy waste.

When it comes to industry, you must pay a consent fee to operate and give bank guarantees, if there is any accidental discharge. There is a penalty imposed in case you are polluting. Conversely, even though municipal corporations pollute the environment, the river or groundwater, they charge citizens for waste collection and waste management.

If instead of using virgin material, you are using recycled material, hypothetically what would be your percentage decrease?

Kaustubh Phadke: In cement, recycled material is the fuel. Carbon dioxide footprint will be reduced. It will be 8-9% lower than conventional fuel.

It does not reduce input cost, even if you’re getting the right kind of waste. This is because you have to put up a pre-processing plant. In terms of coal and pet-coke, you can directly put it into the coal pulveriser and treat it as fuel to the kiln but in the case of MSW or RDF, we have to get shredders and segregators in place. There is a disposable cost for the material which you cannot feed to the cement plant. It is like a waste processing facility and plants are incurring costs and there are no savings. Saving is in terms of CO2 footprint.

Municipal corporations said they are looking at smart solutions for real-time data of what is being collected, segregated, and disposed of. Your response.

K Ganesh: The initiative should come from the municipal corporations. All other companies are already working smart. The MC of each city needs to have a defined collection centre where a systematic process will ensure all waste is collected and taken in a graded manner. It should be similar to a private industry running its operations. They should have data, standard machinery and equipment in place rather than having people collect the waste and take it to a landfill which will again create legacy waste in a dump yard.

Other than segregated compartmentalized compactors, what machines are required?

K Ganesh: Sorting machines. If I’m talking about plastic bottles for food-grade applications, firstly, my obligation is 30% of fuel by 25-26 which is resin reduction. The next year it goes up to 60%. That means I’m going to reduce the consumption of fuel. Secondly, upcycling is going to be big business. With EPR in the picture, even after burning in a cement kiln you still need to recycle a set quantity of plastics again and use for your packaging. With all these regulations, people will start using plastic wisely and by this process, the entire country, will be neat and clean.

Kaustubh Phadke: We recently took an Indian cement company representative and a government team from Niti Aayog, the Bureau of energy efficiency and the Department of Science and Technology to Austria and Belgium, where we saw the entire value chain of waste.

Right from where it is collected in the municipal corporation to how it goes to the waste processing facility where they made it fit to feed to the incinerator and then to the cement plant. The crux is that municipal corporations pay the waste processing facility for segregating and processing and the facility pays the cement plant to dispose of it. It is the other way around where they are disposing the waste generated from the municipal corporation as that is the MC’s responsibility. There are cement plants earning around 80-90% on alternate fuel. A similar guideline is here with MAHUA where they do not mention payment directly but within 100km it is viable for the corporations to send to cement plants at zero cost. Initiatives from the corporation end is still pending.

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1 comment

Telkom University March, 2024 - 4:44 am

What strategies are employed in the intelligent mixing of manpower and automation, as discussed in the article?

Reply

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