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In-House Composting Options for Gated Communities.


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Ms Savita Hiremath, a member of SWMRT, spoke about the background of composting, the different types of composting which can be done inside Apartment Complexes and the right methods to do it. She presented examples of several forward-thinking apartment complexes like Brigade Regency, one the first in Bangalore to do composting in-house.

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In-House Composting Options for Gated Communities.

  2. 2. WHAT IS COMPOSTING? ● It’s Nature’s algorithm to keep Planet Earth spinning. The biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as food & animal waste, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, worms, coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely nutritious, humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.
  3. 3. THERE ARE TWO WAYS 1. AEROBIC COMPOSTING – Aerobes work in the presence of oxygen/air. 2. ANAEROBIC DIGESTION – Anaerobes work in the absence of oxygen/air. But, the second one is ‘digestion’, not composting. Only when the digested pickle comes in contact with air, composting happens. Till then, it’s not compost. It's just pickle. Ex: Bokashi.
  4. 4. IN A CONTROLLED ZONE ● The dynamics of this natural process change drastically when moved into a controlled environment like homes, apartments & gated communities. Standardisation becomes important. ● You have to add accelerators to speed up the process and control odour, rodents, flies, etc. ● Cost depends on the solution you choose. Else, you can produce good compost at extremely low cost also.
  5. 5. THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS ● Odour ● Moisture – High or low. INTERCONNECTED. Odour is a sign that composting is not happening properly. If there is more moisture, air supply is affected. Then anaerobes multiply & trigger foul odour issues. Add dry leaves or cocopeat to fix the issue. If the moisture is low, composting halts as the microbes need sufficient moisture to keep multiplying and working on the substrate.
  7. 7. IT ALL BEGINS WITH SEGREGATION AT SOURCE. It's the ABC of solid waste management.
  8. 8. ●The scene—as far as composting solutions is concerned—has changed significantly since 2014-15. Several efficient solutions have hit the market and have been functioning quite well. COMMUNITY COMPOSTING
  9. 9. ● Solutions tackle space & budget constraints effectively. ● Some take less than a month while others may need two months of turnaround period. ● Some fit in the basement, on the terrace, open space or a well-aerated room. ● At Rs 100 one-time outgo per household in 100-unit-strong community or costlier ones.
  11. 11. PLATFORM COMPOSTING Good for communities with large gardens as most of them send out garden waste for landfilling. ● Almost zero-cost solution to process all garden waste. ● Minimal effort and outgo (only cowdung). ● Space needed is 6ftx6ft for one pile. (Not considering space for staff to do the work). ● The length can be more but the width has to be only 4 ft to ensure that the workers can reach the centre portion of the piles. ● Can be in the open, but under a tree will help more.
  12. 12. EcoDigester, a bio-meth solution
  13. 13. ECODIGESTER is suitable for medium-to-large communities. Available in different capacities. For hotels, schools, canteens, restaurants or any such establishments where biogas gets used up. ● Space for a Digester that takes in 25 kgs (50 houses, approx) is around 5ftx5ft. Extra space on terrace to place the biogas balloon. Needs a meshed enclosure to keep off rodents. ● Can be placed anywhere in a windy spot. If no natural wind movement, then the stirrer needs to be power- driven. Placing it closer to kitchen avoids heavy plumbing work. ● Almost zero maintenance cost and money recovered in a few years (depends on the type & quantity of the feedstock that goes in).
  14. 14. BYOBIN
  15. 15. BYOBINS ● Good for small-to-medium sized communities (up to 100 houses). ● They work in pair. Rain-proof. Rodent-proof. One pair is enough for up to 20 houses. ● Can fit in anywhere—terrace, basement (with good air circulation), out in the garden. ● 1 pair needs 4 ft x 6 ft area. Long-lasting. Drawback: Cannot handle very large quantities.
  16. 16. UP’GRADE
  17. 17. UP’GRADE ● Suitable for small-to-medium communities (up to 200-250 houses). ● Needs a rain-proof, rodent-proof room. ● Low on capex. Composting done in milk crates. ● Can be done in basement if there’s a spot with very good air circulation. Drawback: Space-intensive. Needs at least 12ftx12ft for 200 houses.
  19. 19. SHUDH-LABH AEROBIC DIGESTER ● Small-medium-big communities. ● One digester is enough for up to 100 houses. ● Fits in corners. 6ftx6ft enough for 100 homes. ● Needs a roof to prevent rainwater splashing. Essentials: Needs roofing.
  21. 21. MARIGOLD ● Aesthetically designed. Uses sunlight to process kitchen rejects. ● Fits in the open areas, on the terrace. Not in shaded areas/basements. ● Rain-proof, rodent-proof. ● Available in 3-4 capacities. ● Good for communities of all sizes. ● Still needs some procedural modifications. Drawback: Cannot handle very large quantities.
  23. 23. BARREL DIGESTER ● A low-cost solution from Shudh-Labh. ● Fits in almost anywhere if there isn’t heavy rainwater splashing. ● Good for parking/basement and open areas with a roof. ● Easily portable. Hence, can be spread all over the garden in pairs/as required. ● Good for small-to-medium communities. Even large ones are going for it.
  24. 24. CEMENT TANK METHOD – 1
  25. 25. ● Run by Saahas, 10 such cement tanks handle 800-900 kgs of waste at once. ● The size: 5 ft x 3 ft x 2.5 ft (L x W x H). ● A chopper & a shredder work in pair to shred dry garden leaves & food waste. ● All the 10 outlets are connected to a drain which takes the leachate out of the composting area and then gets connected to a series of water treatment channels. ● It’s important to *treat* the leachate & not let it out directly to the drains. It’s not a stabilised liquid. Drawback: Location-specific/not in basements. Works well only if there’s a huge inflow of dry leaves & heavy-duty shredders. High capex.
  26. 26. CEMENT TANK METHOD - 2
  27. 27. ● 3ft H* 5ft B* 7ft L. The capacity of each tank: 750 kgs. ● 3 trays filled with charcoal to absorb gases & odour. ● Diffuser network with PVC pipes to circulate air from bottom-up. ● A false mesh floor. Air-blower to remove odour. ● Process is passive. Not much human intervention other than air-blowing & floor washing. Microbes added. ● 200 sqft to build 3 such tanks. Drawback: Demands perfect masonry work. Leachate loss.
  29. 29. ● 1st set dimensions: 2f (w) x 4ft (L) x 2ft (H). ● Each bin takes in one day’s shredded kitchen waste mixed with dry leaves. ● Good design! The bins have enough holes on all sides to let the air in & are mobile. The lid is easy to operate with handles on two ends. The bottom has a hole which lets out leachate which is collected in a plastic tray. ● 2nd set dimension: 2ft (w) x 4ft (L) x 1ft (H). They are meant to process the 7-day-old semi-compost. ● HEAT: Temps go beyond 60-70 deg.C on hot days. Pathogens perish. Drawback: Not rain-proof.
  31. 31. ● Mimics the natural composting process. Very low capex & opex. Not labour-intensive. ● Wet waste sprinkled with sawdust to control moisture & fruit flies. ● First a layer of dry leaves and then 8-10 inches of kitchen waste. Always topped off with dry leaves. ● A gunny cloth is wrapped around the steel mesh ring to contain moisture and prevent spilling. Drawback: Needs space to store half-done compost for maturing. Unless kept clean, aesthetics can be a problem. Dry leaves are crucial.
  32. 32. ORBIN – SOLO
  33. 33. ● Well-designed, compact and portable. ● One unit takes up 3ftx3ft of space. ● Composting process involves cocopeat-based inoculant. ● The total capacity is 80 kgs or 110 liters. One can add up to 1.5-2 kgs of fresh kitchen waste per day. ● Continuous composting. No leachate loss. ● No odour or rodent issues. Drawback: Scalability is possible. Buy multiple units and place them in a cluster. But not possible beyond a point.
  35. 35. ● A good solution for composting dry leaves fallen on the roads or from gardens in large communities. ● Simple structure, easily replicable and scalable. ● Continuous composting using either cow dung or lab- produced accelerators, or both. Compost can be harvested through the hatches at the bottom. ● Can add 20% of cooked rejects also. ● Easily portable. Low cost. Can be fabricated locally. Drawback: Structural integrity can suffer due to continuous top-ups. Better go for very strong, high- guage stainless steel to avoid rusting.
  36. 36. AADITI
  37. 37. ● Inside an apartment or in a lane, Aaditi fits right in. ● Easily collapsible, portable aerobic composting structure. ● Easy to assemble and consume less space. ● Made out of steel mesh. Rodent-proof. ● Available in 3 sizes for less than 20 homes to 70 homes. ● Works on cocopeat-based inoculant. ● Harvesting process made easy with an opening in the front.
  38. 38. ORBIN STAX
  39. 39. ● Vertical space management. ● Continuous flow system. ● Unique modular structure that allows stacking of extra waste collectors depending on the quantity of waste to be handled. ● Cocopeat-based inoculant. ● Good aeration. ● No smell or rodents. ● Good quality compost in three weeks.
  40. 40. VERMICOMPOSTING The most nutrient-rich compost. Composting done using earthworms. Simple cement tanks with a mesh lid. Difficult to handle cooked waste on a large-scale.
  41. 41. WHICH METHOD/MACHINE TO AVOID ● No machine on this planet can make compost in 24 or 48 or 72 hours. Takes a minimum of 3 weeks. ● Don’t fall for fake/out-of-the-world claims: “24- hour fully automatic composting machines”, etc. ● What comes out is not compost, but burnt carbon which can pollute air, water & soil. NOT ALL THAT IS BLACK IS COMPOST!
  42. 42. Composting is mainly for reducing ecological/carbon footprint. Hence... ●Should not be power- or water-intensive. ●Should not be process- & labour-intensive. ●A worthy end product: nutrient-rich compost. POINTS TO PONDER
  43. 43. COSTLIER SOLUTIONS WORK BETTER? ● Not necessarily. ● There are solutions that cost very little money, while others cost lakhs of rupees. But the compost that comes out is all the same. ● The quality of the compost depends on the ingredients used and the process followed. ● It’s difficult to bring out the same quality of compost each time. Compost is a creature of circumstances.
  44. 44. SOME MYTHS ABOUT COMPOSTING ● It stinks! NO, IT DOES NOT. ● It is difficult. Not all can do it. NO, IT IS EASY. EVERYONE CAN DO IT.
  45. 45. ● General precautions over hygiene inside compost unit is a must. ● But all those who compost aren’t known to fall sick more often than who don’t. PATHOGENS & DISEASES
  46. 46. WHAT NOT TO DO ● Drying the compost in the hot sun. ● Excessive sieving.
  47. 47. ●All the prominent methods have been documented in ENDLESSLY GREEN ( It’s an open and free source of information.
  48. 48. ●For an end-to-end SWM consultancy that starts from segregation and composting and goes on to achieve a completely organic garden in your community, please write to: