Of the 9,400 tonnes of trash that Mumbai sends daily to its dumping grounds , 73% comprises food, vegetable and fruit waste, says the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s latest Environment Status Report (ESR).
Waste management experts said if Mumbai recycles this waste, it can reduce the amount of garbage transported to its overburdened landfills by 93%. “Not more than 7% of non-recyclable and inert waste requires to be dumped at landfills in Mumbai because they can be treated at source,” said Satish Sinha, waste management expert, who was part of the committee that drafted the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
The ESR 2016-17 found that construction debris — sand, stone and earth — comprised 17% of the waste, 3% is plastic and 3% is organic dry waste such as wood and cloth. Paper and other recyclables, including metals, are 4% of the garbage.
Despite the high proportion of recyclable components in its garbage. Mumbai segregates only 8% for recycling and only 5% is composted by private agencies such as housing societies, restaurants and produce markets. “The dumping of garbage poses health hazards because it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies, and rodents, which are carriers for disease-causing pathogens. It also aggravates air pollution, ground water pollution and soil pollution affecting the fragile ecosystem,” read the report.
Data from the BMC’s solid waste management (SWM) department shows the proportion of food in the city’s waste was similar in 2015-16 as well.
The Deonar dumping ground, the largest in Mumbai, gets approximately 34% of the trash, while Kanjurmarg and Mulund receives 32% and 34% of the garbage. “Mulund and Deonar dumping ground have nearly exhausted their capacity to receive the garbage,” read the report.
Currently, municipal workers collect 95% of waste from households, educational institutes, hospitals, hotels, office complexes etc. as against a target of 100%. The waste is taken to 32 segregation centres where it is separated into dry, organic, plastic and biomedical waste. Only 53% of the collected garbage is segregated against a target of 100%. At the dumping grounds, 35% of the waste is treated by composting by vermiculture.
Municipal officials said 23,000 housing societies were sent notices for not segregating waste and another 5,000 were issued notices for not treating organic waste. “We are taking action to make citizens aware about mandatory segregation and composting under the Municipal Solid Waste Management rules, 2016. There is better awareness among the masses. Our target is to reduce the waste going to landfills by 36% (6000MT) by 2019,” said an official.