MSW co-processing: A 'Swatch Bharat' initiative

MSW co-processing: A 'Swatch Bharat' initiative

Cement production process is highly energy-intensive with about 3-4-GJ energy consumption per tonne of cement produced. Many cement manufacturing plants are gearing up for improved utilisation of segregated municipal solid waste, mostly referred as RDF, as it reduces their carbon footprint.

Management and disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) has caught up speed in last two years, after Prime Minister's office underlined its need under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. This initiative is considered as India's biggest drive ever and is being encouraged and promoted by eminent people with support from all strata of society.

The Planning Commission Report (2014) reveals that 377 million people residing in urban area generate 62 million tonne (MT) of MSW per annum currently and it is projected that by 2031 these urban centres will generate 165 MT of waste annually and by 2050 it could reach 436 MT. To accommodate this amount of waste generated by 2031, about 23.5 × 107 cubic meter of landfill space is required and in terms of area it would be 1,175 hectare of land per year. The area required from 2031 to 2050 would be 43,000 hectares for landfills piled in 20 meter height. These projections are based on 0.45 kg/capita/day waste generation.

Only about 75-80 per cent of the municipal waste gets collected and out of this only 22-28 per cent is processed and treated and remaining is disposed of indiscriminately at dump yards. As per the Report of the Task Force of erstwhile Planning Commission, the untapped waste has a potential of generating 439 MW of power from 32,890 TPD of combustible wastes including Refused Derived Fuel (RDF), 1.3 million cubic metre of biogas per day, or 72 MW of electricity from biogas and 5.4 million metric tonnes of compost annually to support agriculture.

As detailed above it is imperatively clear that this is one of the resources that has enormous potential in those industries that use fossil fuels and help in reducing their fuel cost as well as reduce their manufacturing cost. As cement manufacturing process is highly energy intensive, many of the cement manufacturing industries are gearing up for improved utilisation of sorted segregated Municipal solid waste, mostly referred as RDF, as this also reduces their carbon foot print.

From MSW, all the non-recyclable combustible materials such as soiled paper, soiled cotton, leather, rubber, plastics, thermocol and rexene, etc. can be co-processed after processing them. The awareness on proper utilisation of RDF has taken strong roots in last two years in the Indian context and the generators as well as the cement manufactures are putting a focussed attention on higher utilisation of RDF to improve their bottom line.

A giant step has been taken by VICAT IN INDIA group to address this initiative in their cement plants and has proven that waste materials have a potential in terms of environment protection as well as in improving their Rupees per Thermal costs. The group has co-processed around 12,000 tonnes of MSW generated in Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru in the last 10 months of this year alone.

An entire RDF handling and feeding system has been put in place at their plants and they also have plans of creating a MSW processing plant at Hyderabad in near future so that quality RDF is prepared to improve the usage further at their plants.

Utilisation of waste material as alternative fuels and raw materials in Indian cement industry plays significant role because:

  • Fuel Costs are going up
  • Uncertainty in fuel availability
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions

This will be possible only when there will be appropriate Pre-processing facility in cement plants to process the non-homogeneous waste material into uniform quality AFR whether it is RDF or any other waste. There have been dramatic improvements in regulatory frame work as well as in the mind set of authorities in last two years who have also given go ahead to this concept of Co-processing.

The concept of hand holding by the manufactures, waste generators and the authorities have greatly improved the waste utilisation in cement plants. Movement of waste from one state to other state, giving long term consents, authorising the transporters etc. are some of the positive steps taken in this direction.

On the other hand the waste generators as well as the plant users are also gearing up by upgrading their facilities for improving the usage. All these steps will certainly help in avoiding land filling and shift to resource recovery in next 2-3 years through cement manufacturing facilities.

Even the GST for RDF material at 0 per cent and that for transport to 5 per cent should help its improved usage. The cement manufactures as well as the MSW segregating plants are trying to have cooperative efforts in creating facilities by joint investments in RDF generating plants. This should help them in generating a quality RDF that can be effectively used in cement plants without affecting their product quality as well their processes.

The dream of the Cement manufacturers is to raise their TSR per cent utilisation from present level of around 4 per cent to a level of 20 per cent in 2025 is very ambitious and above initiatives can certainly help the industry. In order to have a step jump in utilisation of RDF and other waste, some support from the Government bodies, authorities and the PCB's in terms of financing such projects, subsidising on the transport costs, creating promotional awareness in stake holders, training the source generators, creating proper dumps for segregated waste storage etc. can certainly help in proper resource utilisation of these wastes and avoid landfills.

Courtesy: Milind Murumkar, Advisor AFR, VICAT INDIA

Benefits of co-processing

  • Leads to fewer landfills and reduces pollution cased by dumping
  • Existing dump yards can be remedied and the combustible fraction can be co-processed
  • Reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, thereby fighting global warming
  • Reduced the environmental impact of extraction (mining/quarrying), transporting and processing of raw material
  • Reduced dependence on primary resources
  • Conserves natural (non-renewable) energy and material resources
  • Cement plants are located close by the waste generating locations
  • New large scale investment is not required

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