They are plonked like huge cribs, waiting for two oversized twins. That analogy can be misleading. For, these boxy structures at the Corporation unit office on Second Avenue in Thiruvanmiyur are part of an exercise to bring “compactness” to the humongous challenge of composting. These structures are on the last leg of preparation, and once complete, they would take centre-stage in a pilot project by Greater Chennai Corporation.
Alby John, regional deputy commissioner, South Region, GCC, chooses to describe it as “a nano composting centre”. A nano composting centre is offered as a solution that reduces those things — especially size and smell — that are proving a deterrent for people to undertake composting on their own; and “more of those things” —particularly decentralisation — that are viewed by GCC as more favourable to “the zero-waste drive”.
“A nano composting centre is many times smaller than a micro-composting unit, hence the name,” he begins. “These nano-composting centres are expected to usher in further decentralisation of the composting process. It will allow people to participate actively in the composting process. It will have a 12-hour drop-off time for residents to bring their biodegradable waste — stretching from morning to evening.”
When asked if residential units that are classified as bulk waste generators can avail the services of a nano composting centre, the answer from Alby is a resounding “no”.
“It is a model we will present to bulk waste generators so that they can create it for themselves on their premises,” explains Alby.
Sufficient aeration and layered composting, where a thick mat of dry leaves cover biodegradable waste at every level, are said to be the reasons for the smell being arrested.
The nano composting centre is based on the Thumburmoozhi-model aerobic composting.
“It has undergone a few tweaks, but the basic principles remain the same. For example, instead of the removable ferro-cement slabs, removable pre-cast RCC slabs are used for greater sturdiness. As in the original model, a twin-unit ensures sufficient aeration, and therefore arrests smell. A nano composting centre will be coupled with a material recovery facility,” says Alby. The nano composting centre is expected to go on the pilot in a couple of weeks, and later, based on users’ feedback, a decision on introducing it across Chennai will be taken.