Axel Pieters, Head, Geocycle India
Ulhas Parlikar, Deputy Head, External Affairs, R&D, Geocycle
Geocycle India has made investments for implementing co-processing solution for the wastes and expects a reasonable return on investment for the same. However, in the Indian set up, the legislation is politically influenced. It is blocking the co-processing of waste by favouring dumping and land filling, thus becomes difficult for the cement industry to compete. In a freewheeling chat with ICR, Axel Pieters, Head, Geocycle India, and Ulhas Parlikar, Deputy Head, External Affairs, R&D, Geocycle India, elaborate on the waste management practices in India. Excerpts from the interview...
Do you think the polluter pays principle can be implemented in India, especially when it comes to waste generation?
Pieters: The basic principle followed worldwide is that the polluter pays for the waste generation. If the same thing is implemented in India, the problem can be resolved in respect of implementing solutions for the waste management. If a family of five persons, that generates about 1 tonne of wastes per year and if a user fee of Rs 500 is charged for the family per year, government can generate reasonable funds for implementing the required solutions rather than continuing with the present practice of dumping. For example, Hyderabad city alone generates 4,000 tonne of waste every day. If one decides to tax this waste, one can generate about Rs 73 crore of revenue per year which can be used to finance a treatment scheme.
In Germany, no landfill is allowed any more. In Norway and Belgium, there are huge taxes on landfill. In Eastern Europe, they are taking up first level of taxation for landfill. In most of the cities in developed countries, the waste is required to be segregated at source and stored in approved bags. Every house will have two or three containers to handle waste bags. Depending on the quantum of waste collected from the house, the family gets charged for the same. There is a fair amount of transparency in the transaction as everything is done electronically. There is equal participation in the whole process by the citizens and therefore it works.
How the waste generating industry is geared up to accept co-processing as a preferred solution? What is your contribution here?
Parlikar: Dealing with waste can be challenging and requires specialised capabilities. Geocycle ensures regulatory compliance, highest health and safety standards as well as traceability, and offers complete destruction of waste material. Our innovative and tailored solutions provide an answer to the industry´s waste challenges. The mature industry players, multinational companies or large scale industries such as automobiles, pharma, FMCG, paints, metal industry, refineries etc, are more responsive to sustainable development concept and support technologies - such as co-processing - that are aligned with it and help minimise their risk exposure and gives them peace of mind. But response from medium scale and small scale industries needs to be improved. They need to be encouraged towards sustainable technologies such as co-processing with appropriate facilitating policy level interventions.
How about options like waste to energy, burning waste in incinerator or composting?
Parlikar: Certainly, waste to energy, incineration and composting are other technologies that should be utilised for management of different kinds of wastes. Composting is the best technology for the management of bio-degradable wastes. For the non-recyclable combustible wastes, the proven technologies are co-processing, waste to energy and incineration. The capital cost and the operating cost required for implementing waste management through waste to energy or incineration technology is substantially high compared to that through co-processing technology. Hence, co-processing option is a more preferred technology world over.
Pieters: Based on the experience that I have been working for an incineration facility (with electricity generation) for about seven years in Rotterdam, I can confirm that cost wise, incineration technology is very expensive. The operating cost for an economic model of incinerator for processing one tonne of waste would be around $80-100. The other aspect is that one needs to utilise additional energy to run the incinerators. Based on the existing maturity level in the management of wastes, I believe that incinerators will co-exist along with composting and land filling operations for a reasonable time in India while implementing the co-processing solutions. Appropriate solution for India will therefore be an optimal mix of these technologies.
How do you rate the success in the propagation of AFR co-processing?
Parlikar: Geocycle India is responsible for propagation of co-processing business activity in ACC and Ambuja plants. The level of co-processing of wastes being implemented in the cement plants depends upon the location of the plant and the available waste market around it. In some locations, our plants are able to perform substantially better than others and in some locations; plants from other companies are able to demonstrate better co-processing performance.
What has been the response from the new government to waste management in general?
Parlikar: The new government is apparently very serious towards implementing systems and practices for managing wastes in environmentally sound and ecologically sustaining manner. This is apparent from the amendments being proposed in all the rules related to waste management. These new amendments are envisaging large scale reforms that are aligned towards sustainable growth. The prominent propositions in the policy framework include segregation at source, polluter pays, priority towards recycling and recovery, stringent emission norms, reduction in landfill volumes etc. All the changes in rules proposed by the new government and published on website are positive indications towards responsible and environmentally superior management of wastes.
Geocycle was launched in 2007 as the dedicated identity for waste management solutions. It was created with an objective to uniting all activities related to the provision of waste management solutions under the single clearly positioned brand. At Geocycle, the unusable waste is converted into a safe, usable resource. Geocycle contributes to a regenerative, circular economy that closes resource cycles and minimises the wastage of scarce resources. Geocycle is a provider of waste management solutions that solves waste challenges for customers. Geocycle believes in a future with zero waste which is feasible when wastes are co-processed in cement kilns. It has dedicated experts who work persistently towards this goal. Geocycle takes the extra step to solve waste challenges faced by the industry and the society. It implements state-of-the-art technologies, tailored processes and in-depth expertise to provide sustainable, safe and reliable answers to the waste problems.
Geocycle´s promise is clear: Work relentlessly to bring society a step closer to a zero-waste future.