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Autumn Leaves

Decentralized Waste Management

Its best to deal with waste at or closest to the point of generation … say YIMBY, Yes In My BackYard, breaking the NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) syndrome surrounding waste.



Responsibility for managing one’s own waste is the sustainable way forward. Processing should be encouraged at every level starting from the micro household, to community level, and up to ward level facilities. And only what cannot be managed at any of these levels, should be sent to centralized facilities for processing.

What is Decentralized Management ?

Managing waste closest to the point of waste generation is localized or decentralized management. This allows for break-up of not just waste streams but also of processing of smaller quantities of waste.


Ideally Decentralized Management is a spill over mechanism, only what cannot be managed at the primary level gets sent to the next level. It was clear that facilitating this across the city would need a paradigm shift in the way waste was being managed.

The Urban Crisis: 60% of what we throw is organic waste. A family of four throws out half a kilo of organic waste everyday. Dumping in the landfill destroys lives and livelihoods, contaminates groundwater and emits harmful gases in the air. The average child receives 4 times more exposure than an adult to heavy metals in the water and cancer causing pesticides in the food.


The primary reason, nobody wants to see waste up close is the fear of ugly sights and rotten smells from waste. These notions had to be dispelled with very compelling demonstrations on the field and strong arguments for acceptance.


Why is Decentralized Management Important?

It is the NIMBY syndrome of the Citizens and Municipalities which has led to the creation of Landfills and indiscriminate dumping in outlying, and neighboring villages. This has further harbored the creation of collection and transport mafia and holding cities to ransom, for the clearing of Municipal Solid waste.


The continuously increasing fuel costs have led to spiraling servicing costs to the Municipality, for just transporting and dumping. This is evidently unsustainable and must be replaced by progressive ideas like creation of ‘zero discharge’ households, campuses and wards.


A very important breakthrough came with showing the Cost benefit analysis studies which unarguably showed that investment in local level SWM processing infrastructure is justified by savings in transportation costs. 

Further,  the dry waste working models which were operational by then clearly  showed that achieving waste stream management in smaller decentralized facilities leads to optimization of recovery of materials and savings in costs to the Municipality.


How to achieve Decentralized Management?

Based on the information of waste streams which a ward generates, a simple road map was conceived initially which is relevant to date. The Road Map breaks down, based on waste stream, and identifies localised facilities that can be set up to manage the waste. Applying the various guiding principles, shows the need to set up Dry waste collection centres, Leaf management facilities, in house market waste management and finally ward level wet waste processing units.

Decentralized Facilities set up by the City in response to the model of Decentralized waste management. Though this is far from adequate, it’s a great start.​

  • 165 Dry waste collection centres in 198 Wards

  • Market management In Malleswaram and City Market

  • 9 Bio Methanation facilities of 5 tpd

  • 7 OWC of 1 Tpd

  • 8 Leaf Shredders in 8 Zones

  • Leaf waste management in the Parks

  • Integrated yard in Koramangala

  • Zonal Plants of smaller Capacities

However in some cases, the decentralized facilities are no longer functional. One of the main reasons is the non-payment of O&M charges for running the facilities and not due to the failure of the decentralized model.​

For a successful decentralized facility you need

  • A good vendor

  • A strong legal contract

  • Necessary infrastructure

  • Regular payments

  • Proper maintenance of the facility


Additional Links (link to resources / website)

List of decentralized facilities in the city

Koramangala Leaf Management (Kora 3B)

Madivala Market

Kalyan Nagar Composting


Its best to deal with waste at or closest to the point of generation … say YIMBY, Yes In My BackYard, breaking the NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) syndrome surrounding waste.


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