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Issue 46
, 2013
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Composting Non –Infectious Bio- Degradable Waste

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2013

Nature has  bestowed  upon  us  everything we wished  for,  in  some or  the  other  way. We are utilizing every resource given by nature to the fullest and in return we are belching out harmful by products.

The land available for dumping the waste is limited and gradually approaching its limit. Hence, there is a need to employ appropriatewaste management practices that rid us of the need of dumping grounds and also allow resource recovery.  Composting the biodegradable waste is one such system and provides us with nutrient‐rich, weed‐free organic manure that can help restore the fertility of the land while also benefitting the environment.

Hospitals are supposed to be centers of healing. It goes without saying that hospitals should not be contributing in any way to factors that negatively affect the health of the environment. But, one also has to understand the fact that hospitals are under constant budgetary pressure, be it from revenue limitations or escalating operational costs. The ever increasing inflow of population also lays a lot of pressure on the assimilative capacity of our healthcare facilities in terms of providing quality healthcare along with other basic amenities.

A high occupancy rate is a desirable aspect from the point of view of revenue generation. But this would also mean increased waste generation; especially degradable waste. Composing, in this context, can be as a cost effective and environmentally sound way of managing non infectious food waste and other horticulture generated in a hospital.

Composting involves mixing yard and other organic waste in a pile or bin and providing conditions that encourage decomposition.  The  decomposition  process  is  fueled  by  millions  of  microscopic  organisms (bacteria, fungi) that take up residence inside the compost pile, continuously devouring and  recycling it to produce a rich organic fertilizer and valuable soil amendment.

Thus  composting,  if  carried  out  under  standard  conditions  of  temperature,  moisture,  pH,  etc. gives quality  manure which has good  market value. Also, rag‐pickers can be trained to carry out  composting  of  the  waste  collected  by  them  instead  of  foraging  on  the  dumping  grounds .This  enhances  their  means of livelihood and also frees them  from  having to work in the hellish  conditions of  the dumping  grounds.  Thus,  this  waste  management  system  has  a  three‐pronged  benefit  on  economic,  environmental and social fronts.

It’s a fairly simple process that requires minimal effort. With the increased quantities  of  waste  that hospitals are  generating,  owing  in  part  to the  rising  population  density  in  the  metropolitan  cities,  our  landfills  are  slowly running out of space to  accommodate  the  waste.  Add  to  that  the  massive  hole  being  blown  in  the  city’s  coffers  by  the  infrastructure  to  collect  and  transport  this  waste  and  the  government  is  looking  at  a  situation  that  needs  immediate resolving solutions . 

 We have come to adopt an attitude of “out of sight, out of mind” with waste when, in reality, it is an enormous warehouse of resources. It is of great importance for the economy and the planet that various industries implement an effective waste management system in place and who is better than the hospitals to lead this initiative. 

- By Rahul Thampi