CHENNAI: A rise in the mercury level not only ensures brisk business at the umpteen fruit juice outlets in the city, but also a two-fold increase in the generation of fruit waste. However, the current system of garbage collection by the Chennai Corporation does not have any provision to tap into the potential of this fruit-sugar rich bio-degradable waste.
According to owners and managers, each outlet loses up to 50 kilos of squashed fruits and peels per day, which is then dumped into the corporation garbage bins along with other types of waste. This, while many models are existing to produce bio-ethanol, and convert it into bio-fertilizers using a vermi-compost system.
Ranjith Kumar, an executive with a private firm which deals with waste management, said that the government encourages suggestions and initiatives for waste processing, but there are practical challenges in the collection and segregation of waste.
“For converting waste into bio-fertilizers, the waste should not contain any plastic. But across India, all kinds of waste are dumped together in the yards. Here, segregation of waste occurs at the back-end, at the dumpyards, instead of the front end, at the households and shops that generate them,” he says.
There has been initiatives for waste segregation at the source. For instance, last week, the Corporation kicked off a trial program for waste segregation in a ward in Anna Nagar.
At the Koyambedu Market, the largest perishables market in Asia where about about 120-130 tonnes of fruit and vegetable waste is generated each day, it is segregated and used for power generation at a bio-methanation plant.
T K Ramkumar, a city- based advocate associated with environmental causes, says that processing the fruit-based waste separately would need additional investments and might not be economically viable, as the collection points are spread out and the quantity involved is less.
“Out of the 4000 tonnes of waste produced by the city every day, the fruit waste could be a maximum of five tonnes. There might be also be seasonal variations which might affect the logistics involved,” he says. SS Radhakrishnan, a city -based organic gardening activist, suggests that citizens should approach the juice outlets for the waste and try to utilise it for producing manure instead of waiting for the government to step in.