Circular economy


Sustainable lifestyle

Wet waste

Project Bhoomitra was launched by Saahas in August 2022 to encourage individuals and communities to take up composting locally.

Project Bhoomitra was launched by Saahas in August 2022 to encourage individuals and communities to take up composting locally.

Organic waste makes up more than 50% of the waste generated in a city. Most of this waste is either processed in large centralised facilities or is dumped at landfills/dump sites. This entails collecting this waste on a daily basis from every house, shop etc. The primary collection vehicles typically transfer this into a compactor that compacts the waste to be transported to a composting plant or a landfill. In most cities the wet waste processing infrastructure is non-existent or non-functional. The unprocessed organic waste leads to various problems, unbearable smell, groundwater contamination, health and hygiene issues for people living around and most importantly significant greenhouse emission in the form of methane contributing to Global Warming. Decentralised waste processing through home composting can address all these issues. If wet waste is handled locally, the collection cost and logistics will be reduced significantly and the dry waste that gets collected will be of good quality that would improve its recyclability.

Although many citizens are receptive to the idea of home composting and understand its importance, not many people take this up for various reasons. First, they are worried who would guide them through the process. Second, people don’t want to invest in buying a home composter especially if waste is collected for free. Other reasons may be space constraint to keep a home composter, fear of smell, effort in emptying the pots, lack of options to use the compost for those who do not have kitchen gardens.

Project Bhoomitra was launched by Saahas in August 2022 to encourage individuals and communities to take up composting locally by providing free home composters and most importantly by hand holding them through the process. The assumption was that if home composting could be made more affordable and convenient, many citizens would adopt it. Two kinds of interventions were planned:

1. Home composting
2. Community Composting

Home Composting:
The engagement plan for onboarding people for home composting involved:

Step 1: Conduct Home Composting workshops amongst the interested communities. This is the typical agenda of these workshop:

* Linking Soil Health with Human Health
* Importance of source segregation
* Why should we compost?
* Important points to remember for successful home composting
* What is compost and how does it help our soil?
* Live demonstration on home composting
* Type of bins available for home composting c
* Problems, solutions & recommendations for home composting

Step 2: Provide a complimentary home composting kit and the initial set of consumables to interested participants. The participant formally signed up using a form that included the terms and conditions of engagement. Mainly they were required to maintain the home composting kit properly and buy the future consumables by themselves. They also signed in to stay in touch with the team regularly and to return the composter in case they stopped composting at home.

Step 3: Create a Whatsapp group with all the participants of the community who take the home composting kit. A few experienced individuals who have been practising home composting for long were also added to this group who along with the Saahas team supported to clear the doubts and questions of the community. Citizens are very active on the group and post doubts as well as share their experience and the joys of composting.

Step 4: Saahas Field Supervisors conducted three monitoring visits to the beneficiaries homes to check on the kits as well as clear any doubts that citizens may have. Some households were comfortable with just one visit and requested not to make any more follow up visits. Respecting time and privacy of citizens the visits were stopped.

Step 5: After a few months, the households practising composting were also provided with boards to be displayed on their doors/gates that declared ‘We segregate and compost’. Citizens are very happy to receive these boards and are proudly displaying them in their houses.

Community Composting:
As per the BBMP circular issued in March 2022, residential bulk generators (any gated community/apartment of 100 households or generating more than 100 kgs of waste per day) have to process the wet waste locally by investing in composting infrastructure or bio-methanisation plants. While this has been a landmark rule which was also adopted by the central SWM Rules 2016, however, this has not made much impact on the ground. Implementation is poor. Key barrier here is the initial investment, mid-sized communities with 100 – 300 dwellings find it difficult to invest INR 4 to 6 lakhs for setting up the infrastructure. The monthly expenditure on the consumables can be anywhere between INR 15 to 25 thousand. Considering all of the above, the following support system was planned to encourage community composting.

Step 1: Identify communities who have taken some steps but have lower capacity and hence are giving out a certain amount of waste to external agencies.

Step 2: Conduct site visit to see the current composting practices followed, additional capacity required, space availability etc.

Step 3: Selection of community was based on multiple criteria primary amongst them being the interest of the community and overall interest and ownership. An agreement was signed up with the community with conditions for investing regularly in consumables and for proper operations and maintenance of the composters.

Step 4: Community composters were installed and demonstration sessions were conducted for the composting management team, supervisors and staff involved in the process. A pictorial laminated card with the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in English/Kannada was also displayed on the composter to ensure SOPs are easily available for a quick referral and also to address in case of a change in manpower, the new staff can follow the proper process with minimal training.

Step 5: After installation, a sustainable living session was conducted in these communities to make them aware of the sustainable practices and to sensitise them about the importance of properly segregated wet waste.

Step 6: Create a Whatsapp group with the beneficiaries and the vendor so that any issues can be resolved quickly.

Step 7: Regular monitoring visits to make sure that the composters are being used and to check if the community is facing any issues.

Infrastructure provided for Composting:
Home Composting:

Bio composter bin by Omega Ecotech. Read Here the Documents

Community Composters:

1. Eira by Endlessly Green. Read Here the Documents

2. Gaia by Daily Dump. Read Here the Documents

Composters for managing leaf litter:

1. Shishira by Soil and health. Read Here the Documents

2. O’Joy by Stone Soup Read Here the Documents

Activity Results
Home Composting workshops conducted 11
Sustainable Living Sessions conducted 3
Household practising Home Composting 320
On-site/Lane Composting sites 11
Households made aware of Home Composting (Outreach) 800
Diversion of wet waste from landfill (kgs per day) 750