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Waste nought, want not All roads lead to a circular economy

by Clean India Journal - Editor
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India is in a haste to make the most of its waste. The Waste Technology India Expo 2023 offered the most diversity in solutions, from an AI-powered bottle recycler to a solution for mixed waste management, an all-in-one machine for sewer cleaning to a software for waste traceability. Mrigank Warrier, Associate Editor, Clean India Journal delves into the details.

Segregation

One of the standout solutions from Jainum Food & Waste Projects was a sorting plant which can separate waste into light and heavy fractions, using air density separators and trommel screens for both legacy waste and incoming municipal solid waste. Buyers are mainly contractors charged with clearing landfills.

Material recovery

Ways to recover precious resources from waste were prominent throughout the Expo. At one stall, Lalit Gawde of Sai Engineers spoke about how even villages are using PET recycling solutions to make plastic granules that can be reused in manufacturing. “Material recyclers don’t just want to treat waste; they want to profit from it too”.

Elsewhere, Krunal Khatri, Owner, Aanal Magnetic Industries explained how his permanent magnetic solutions help remove iron parts from waste that is passed over a conveyor belt. Nuts and bolts are prevented from entering and damaging grinders that process organic waste, while manufacturers of glass, ceramic and food grain products use them to ensure a purer product.

Among the more sophisticated solutions on display was a mechanism to recycle plastic-coated copper wires from car dismantling, demolition waste and other sources. Varun Metal Industries’ solution offers higher output than mere stripping of wires, separating copper and PVC. Other solutions recover copper, iron and aluminium from end-of-life motors and radiator coils.

OWCs

The implementation of policies to decentralise organic waste management has ensured that demand for organic waste converters – with capacities ranging from 5 kg to 2000 kg – continues to rise. Shredders – whether inbuilt or separate – are also in vogue, especially in biogas plants and large public sector units.

Biogas

An innovation in this traditional segment was exhibited by Dr Padmanabh Thakar, Owner, GPRS Healthtech. Promoting anaerobic digestion of organic waste by charging the tank with cow dung and a patented biodigester, the solution is able to accelerate the process with minimal consumption of electricity, no moving parts and almost no need for maintenance.

“Between 35-75 kg of waste can be processed per day; an equivalent amount of manure is generated, as well as enough gas to fill 3-4 commercial gas cylinders per month, with no other residue”, he shared. “The advantage of zero odour discharge makes it palatable
to residents”.

Demand comes from cantonment areas, urban local bodies, large resorts, manufacturing facilities with a large cafeteria and educational institutions.

Waste-to-energy

A major part of the project cost of any such plant is the boiler of the incinerator. While the calorific value of waste in the West is around 3000 kCal/tonne, in India, it tends to be 900-1,200 kCal/tonne. These two factors have led to only 100-150 MW of a potential total of 3000 MW projects being commissioned.

“Indigenisation is key to reducing cost. By incorporating a domestically manufactured boiler, we were able to bring down project costs by more than ₹3 Cr/MW”, revealed S Ilango, Chief Manager – Business Development, Avant-Garde Systems and Controls.

Practical solutions

Not all waste can be feasibly processed in an ideal manner; fortunately, alternatives exist. Darshaak Mehta of Infed Bio Upakaran exhibited a garbage disposal solution for facilities where waste storage is an issue, in which organic waste is mixed with water and crushed; the slurry can be discharged into the drain, though he recommends it be allowed to cure and used as manure.

Similarly, Kutti and Nathan showcased a solution for mixed waste management that obviates the need for segregation. Magnetic pyrolysis using artificial plasma thermally disintegrates everything but infected waste into inert ash. Each cycle takes just 35-40 minutes, and anything from gloves and syringes to old laptops can be put in.

The volume of waste is reduced by 96%, and the inert ash can be mixed with lime concrete to make solid blocks, or with bitumen, to construct roads.

Recycling

What happens to the high volume of empty beer bottles generated in India’s party destinations? Rather than transport them back to bottling plants over long distances and at high cost, Darshaak Mehta of Infed Bio Upakaran offers the alternative of a glass recycling unit which crushes glass into sand that can be used in construction and road-making. For pub owners who have to deal with 500-600 bottles a day, this is the perfect choice.

Similarly, Gaurav Saigal, Director-Operations, Asanta Machines narrated the story of how women’s self-help groups in Himachal Pradesh are using his solution to recycle waste paper from block development offices into handmade paper that they then fashion into bags, mobile stands, files and other products.

User interaction

Khilan Patel, Director, Endlos Innovations demonstrated a machine that sorts empty bottles placed inside it as aluminium or plastic, using an advanced sensor system and AI-based image processing. After verification, the bottle is crushed, shredded or granulated, and stored in bins.

“Abroad, people pay a deposit when they buy a plastic bottle, which they can recover when they return it. Our fraud detection mechanism prevents misuse of this feature”, he said. This made-in-India product is sought after not just by Smart Cities, ULBs, malls and the Railways but also by other countries like the Middle East and Israel.

Sewer cleaning

Renish Bhaskar, Designated Partner of Ren Jetting Systems, which supplies high-quality pumps for sewer cleaning equipment manufacturers, confirmed the uptick in local manufacturers supplying such solutions to urban local bodies. “There has also been growth in the industrial jetting segment such as in car washes, pharma, mines, paint removal and other sectors, which enables ‘no chemical cleaning’”, he said.

City cleaning

Mechanical road sweepers suffer frequent breakdowns; their vacuum counterparts end up collecting dust from one end and blowing it out of the other. Spruce Up has introduced a regenerative road sweeper, which collects road dust in a closed loop system and discharges only 20% of the air taken in.

With this, “Clients can achieve better performance with a much smaller engine (reducing maintenance costs), avail of a greater sweeping width, eliminate the recurring cost of a central brush, and – taking advantage of the compactness of the sweeper – operate the machine even during high-traffic periods, rather than only during night hours”, shared Sumedh Bhoj, Co-Founder, Spruce Up. These sweepers are targeted towards vast facilities like airports, seaports and townships.

Sewer cleaning

Anees Ahamed, General Manager – Sales & Marketing, Whale Enterprise introduced a new solution which simultaneously suctions sludge, separates the water component and uses it for jetting to clean blockages. “In addition to these three functions, we have another machine which also has open drain desilting, manhole grabbing and rodding features in the same product. This is ideal for a first-time buyer with a new sewer network; they can avoid spending on multiple machines and reduce O&M costs.”

Naturally, enquiries are more from Tier 2 and 3 centres, as well as from sewer cleaning contractors.

Data on waste

Some of the solutions on offer were IoT-linked, offering real-time data on working status, operational efficiency, power consumption, daily input and output etc.

Data enables traceability in the waste chain, which was manifested in the real-time data management platform offered by Satma. With this, every stakeholder – from ragpickers/ULBs to EPR entities – can contribute information about waste without sharing sensitive data. “Micro-verification at every level can authenticate the recycled claims of products. Urban local bodies can plan better when they have the correct data on the kinds of waste coming in”, offered Varun Karasia, CEO, Satma.

Special solutions for individual waste streams, a focus on material recovery, monetisation of waste as a resource and easier-to-use solutions will dominate the waste management landscape in the future.

 

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