“The more highly developed waste recycling becomes, the more valuable is this very diversity of materials. The aim must be to get all the waste possible into the system- not only those that are already valuable at a given stage of development, but also those that are only beginning to become useful and those that are not useful but may become so.
A type of work that doesn’t now exist, if thus necessary: services that collects all waste, not for shunting into incinerators, gulches, but for distributing to various primary specialists from whom the material will go to convertors or reusers.”- The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs.
The book ‘The Economy of cities’ by Jane Jacobs was first published in 1969. The vision which Jacobs proposed is becoming our day to day reality. Recycling is not a niche sector anymore, it is huge and employs thousands, but sadly, it is still an informal vocation. We have laws and policies for mining and manufacturing, but not for recycling. Mining, manufacturing and recycling are interlinked. Recycling reduces the demand for mining, it provides resources for manufacturing. Recycling plays an important role, but as has been shared in past there is absence of norms for pursuing the case of recycling.
We in Hasiru Dala decided to learn more about informal waste markets and with that began our journey in recycling hub of Bangalore. We desire to expand the ideas envisioned by great urbanist Jane Jacobs.
Our lessons in the ongoing process of learning about recycling hub became the series ‘Notes from Nayandahalli. Continuing with where we left in the last post, in this post we will look at the scale, source and categories of waste being sent for recycling in Nayandahalli by the urban nomads.
Source of waste
A large chunk of waste in Nayandahalli is being sourced from scrap dealers.
Who are scrap dealers? Scrap dealers are small shop owners based in different localities of Bangalore, who buy unsorted waste in bulk from wastepickers, and sell it to godown owners/recyclers with a marginal profit for themselves.
There are itinerant buyers in the city, they are also called kabbadiwallas, and you must have seen them moving around the city on their bicycles. They supply specific categories of waste i.e. newspapers, glass or pet bottles etc. either directly to the godown owners or sell it to scrap dealers. Itinerant buyers source the waste from households across the city at a nominal price paid. After deducting their margins and purchasing cost, sell it to godown owners or scrap dealers.
Godown owners also source waste from ‘Dry Waste Collection Centres’. These centres are set up by Bangalore Municipal Corporation for streamlining the dry waste/recyclable and inorganic waste collection. Wastepickers, health workers and residents in nearby neighbourhood also sell and give their waste directly to godown owners, respectively. In addition to that waste is sourced from nearby factories and some of the godown owners either themselves or with the help of their workforce pick up the waste from streets that is termed as ‘others’ in the table.
The geography of sourcing of waste extends from Peenya in western part of Bangalore to Whitefield in east, Hebbal Nagar in north to Electronic city in South. Waste also comes from neighbouring cities Nelamangala, Mysore and Tumkur.
Quantity of waste received and sent for recycling?
Before going to the amount of waste received, let us look at the dry/recyclable waste generation in Bangalore. Bangalore residents generate around 609 tons of dry/recyclable and inorganic waste per day-i.e. 18270 tons per month, 40 percent of it is plastic and 15 percent is categorized as low value waste. How did we arrive at this number?
According to the data provided by Total Waste Management Services unit of Hasiru Dala (which collects segregated waste from more than 12000 households), each household generates around 210 grams of dry waste per day. We multiplied the amount of dry waste generated per day with the number of occupied households as per the 2011 census data i.e. 29, 00,000 (approx)*210 grams, to get the amount in tons- divided it with 1000000, thus number -609 ton arrived. 609 tons was multiplied with 30 days, henceforth the number 18270 tons per month. This number is exclusive of factories, industries and other non-residential units.
Let us look at the waste received by 50 surveyed godowns in Nayandahalli. 50 godowns receive around 552.5 tons of waste every month, with an average of 11.05 ton for each godown. The numbers have been availed from the estimates provided by godown owners. The range of waste received is provided here in the separate table. If going through just the statistics, 50 surveyed godowns are taking in 3 percent of city’s generated dry waste. There are more than 250 godowns in Nayandahalli alone (there are many godowns scattered all over the city which have not been accounted for). If we multiply the average of 11.05 tons with 250 godowns, the quantity of waste intake comes around 2762.5 tons per month, which is 15 percent of city’s total residential waste generated. This intake is exclusive of reject waste. On an average 26 percent of total received waste is reject- 145.26 tons, which is collected by factories and sugar mills to use as fuel.
After deducting the reject, each godown sends 8 tons of waste for recycling in nearby processing units. Let us play with numbers again, 50 godowns send 407.24 (concluded after subtracting 145.26 from 552.5) tons of waste for recycling. This comes out to be 2.23 percent of total waste generated by Bangalore residents. Extrapolating the quantity to 250 godowns in Nayandahalli: 2000 tons of waste is sent for recycling. 10.94 percent of city’s generated dry waste is being sent for recycling by godowns in Nayandahalli. And all this business is informal and goes on in the fringes of urban economy. These numbers force us to question the absence of recycling policy. If a conducive policy for recycling is put in place, these numbers will rise significantly.
Categories of waste is being sent for recycling
Plastic, thermocol, paper, metal, glass is sent for recycling. Plastic material is categorized in nearly 24 categories on the basis of texture, quality and colour. Other material which is also sent for recycling includes tube-lights, tyres and chargers. It is important to mention that tube lights and chargers are not included under the ambit of e-waste management rules. Thus, if it was not these recyclers, the given material would have ended in the dump-yard and have put both environment and public health at risk.
In this post we did calculation and extrapolation of waste managed by recycling units in Nayandahalli. The percentages may look small, but the actual numbers are not. This data is not inclusive of godowns similar to the ones in Nayandahalli which are scattered across the city. These are not petty numbers. Recently, in an Op-ed of New York Times, John Tierney, American Journalist questioned the rationale behind recycling and termed recycling a minuscule, therefore useless sector. He suggested that the American cities should dump their waste in the nearby landfills, which is a cheaper option. We recommend to him and all those who oppose recycling and endorse incineration and landfilling, to visit Nayandahalli and help us in calculating the potential of recycling units.
To be continued….
The post here is a part of the Notes from Nayandahalli series and is a reflection of an ongoing study supported by Indian Institute for Human Settlements and WIPRO Cares. You can find the previous posts here… Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 and Post 4. The survey is ongoing and is being conducted by Malleswari Baddela and R. Usha.