Waste Management. This is a hot topic at Whispering Palms Xxclusives CHS, Kandivali East, Mumbai (WPXX), these days, and one would not be wrong in attributing this majorly to the society’s composting efforts.
While interacting with residents over the past several weeks it has been most fulfilling to note that there are many who are aware that we are responsible for the mess we have created in our country and we have to try to set things right. There are many though, who still feel that they have no role to play, oblivious of the gravity of the waste situation, some relying on their good fortune to buy them out if the need arises.
The society was pushed to start managing its waste in an organised manner, through segregation at source, by MCGM’s 2017 notification. All credit to the MC and members of WPXX for taking strong steps to ensure compliance. In November 2017, we formed an informal team of waste management volunteers comprising of residents who felt they had the time and the inclination to implement the waste segregation guidelines developed for the society. It is this group that laid the foundation of the solid waste management system we have in place.
It has been an eventful one and a half years of managing WPXX’s waste, but I realise that very few residents actually know what happens to their waste once it leaves their front doors or society premises. Through this series of posts I will be informing residents of the different things that have been happening in the society with regard to our “waste”. The aim of this series is to improve awareness among our society members – recycling practices, challenges, solutions, local initiatives, and the like.
In this first post, I will focus on the waste that we have been recycling for the longest – Tetra Pak.
What is Tetra Pak?
Tetra Pak is the cardboard carton in which milk, juices, sauces and such items are sold. While it looks like cardboard from the outside, it is actually made of different materials – paper, plastic (polyethylene) and aluminium, in different layers. As it is multi-layered, it is difficult to recycle. This is why the manufacturers of Tetra Pak themselves are involved in its collection and recycling.
How is Tetra Pak recycled?
- At the recycling plant, the Tetra Pak cartons are emptied into a huge drum called a pulper, along with water. This works just like a food mixer.
- Hydra-pulping for a short duration separates the paper fibre from the polyethylene and aluminium to produce a brown-grey pulp.
- The paper pulp is recovered and converted into pulp sheets. These sheets are used to make different grades of paper and paper products such as writing sheets, envelopes and tissue paper.
- The residue which is a mix of polyethylene and aluminium (called polyAl) is also recovered. Using high heat and high pressure polyAl is transformed to tough and lightweight boards. These composite boards replace wood and are used for making furniture and roofing sheets.
(Source: Tetra Pak website)
What does our society do with Tetra Pak?
- Our society registered with RUR Greenlife, the Tetra Pak recycler in Mumbai in June 2016. When we started, residents were required to voluntarily deposit their Tetra Paks. On accumulating 1,000 Tetra Paks, we received a Tetra Pak collection bin.
- Now, some residents continue to drop their Tetra Paks into the collection bin. Others put them in the dry waste blue bag for door collection.
- The Tetra Paks are accumulated by our housekeeping staff. Once we have a sizeable number (which is about once a month), they are collected from our premises by Reliance Fresh Home Delivery vehicle. (They can also be dropped off at Sahakari Bhandar/Reliance Fresh stores)
- On average, we generate 40 Tetra Paks per day in our society. (A Tetra Pak of any size is counted as 1 Tetra Pak.)
- We have sent over 20,000 Tetra Paks for recycling
- For 6,500 Tetra Paks we received a bench made of recycled Tetra Paks.
- For the next 8,500 Tetra Paks we will be receiving another bench soon.
- There are different products including school benches that can be donated.
What do we need do to help proper recycling of Tetra Paks?
- Rinse the Tetra Paks and fully dry them before putting them in your dry waste bag. You may cut the pack to make it easier. If they are not rinsed and dried they become smelly and not recyclable.
- If there is a cap or straw, you may leave this on/in the pack – these also get recycled.
- If you want, you may drop your Tetra Paks in the collection bin placed at D Wing.
Till next time, take care! And don’t forget to rinse and dry your Tetra Paks.