1. New Tech to convert waste energy may help India deal with garbage woes

New Tech to convert waste energy may help India deal with garbage woes

A new technology to convert waste to energy might help India deal with its mounting garbage woes

By: | Updated: February 20, 2017 3:34 AM
plant Pyrocrat Systems is among a handful of companies in the country eyeing movement on this front, having tasted some success abroad.

You may not have heard of plastic pyrolysis, a technology by which plastic is broken down into smaller molecules of pyrolysis oil and gas to generate energy. That is not surprising given that it is yet to gain acceptance in India. But there may be good reason for the technology to be given a chance, present as it does an alternative to biogas plants and mass incinerators. More so, since in April, 2016 the government revised the Solid Waste Management rules, after a long gap of 16 years.

Pyrocrat Systems is among a handful of companies in the country eyeing movement on this front, having tasted some success abroad. The company’s turnover from setting up pyrolysis plants overseas may have been just
R15 crore in the last 2-3 years, but the outlook is positive, with more projects in the pipeline from countries in Europe.

But first things first. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), India is the world’s third-largest garbage generating country. Worse, while just about 75% of municipal waste is collected, only 22% of this is processed and treated. The situation becomes alarming when one considers that by 2030, waste generation is expected to more than double from the present 62 million tonnes.


According to Central Pollution Control Board data (till 2013-14), the municipal authorities have so far set up just 533 compost and vermi-compost plants, 56 bio-methanation plants, 22 refuse-derived-fuel (RDF) plants and 13 waste-to-energy plants!

To tackle this mounting problem, the government has made it mandatory for waste processing facilities to be set up by all local bodies. In case of towns with a population of a million or more, this has to be done within two years.
This has resulted in a business opportunity that companies are keen to tap. And while municipal bodies are inviting proposals from contractors, there isn’t a clear winner yet with respect to the technologies to recycle and convert waste to energy.

Biogas plants were used earlier but they require waste to be segregated at source into dry and wet waste. Since this does not happen in India, biogas plants have been a failure as far as proper use of municipal waste is concerned. As for mass incinerators, industry insiders say there are concerns with respect to their emissions, though most waste management plants set up today are of this type. The third technology in the race is pyrolysis.

The good news is that the government recently recognised pyrolysis plants as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. Already, HPCL, IOCL and Engineers India have floated tenders to set up pyrolysis plants as part of their CSR spends. Also, the municipalities of Thane in Maharashtra and Chandigarh in Punjab recently called for discussions on setting up pyrolysis plants.

Suhas Dixit, Director, Pyrocrat, says he expects more domestic business once the rules for Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling 2016, fully kick in from 2018. “Companies will have to comply. The clause regarding extended producer responsibility (EPR) means it is the responsibility of any producer of packaged products to ensure sound environment management. Consumer goods companies and waste paper recycling mills will have to be more responsible towards disposal of plastic waste,” he says.

BK Rao, deputy marketing manager at Parle Products, accepts the industry has not yet begun gearing up for the new regime. “However, we will be exploring ways and means to adhere to all guidelines. The department concerned within Parle will establish the protocol and way forward for the company as a responsible corporate citizen,” he says.

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  1. A
    Anil Mathew
    Oct 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm
    Environment Department should call a Global RFQ so that new technologies can introduce which will give better solution to MSW and BMW. We have a technology which can give better solution but not sure whom to approach for this.
    1. P
      Feb 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm
      Very good, helps to clean India mission and excellent technology for west management in India and overseas also . Mr suhas dixit thanx for ur contribution to make clean India .
      1. J
        Feb 21, 2017 at 7:16 am
        This garbage problem is everywhere I am from Pune and I see this garbage problem in newspaper everyday!
        1. I
          Feb 20, 2017 at 3:37 am
          If proven, let each munility be made to invest for it.
          1. Aunty Entropy
            Feb 20, 2017 at 7:56 am
            Pyrolysis is wasteful, and it keeps communities poor. All or nearly all today's discards could be reused or recycled if they were handled well. Well-designed collection and processing methods produce recycled feedstock to make new products at both the craft scale and industrial scale. But mashing discards all together and throwing them into a landfill, an incinerator, or a pyrolysis plant creates only a few jobs while destroying the materials. The energy is used immediately and can't be stored. Then the plant needs more garbage. These plants require huge capital investment up front and need a guaranteed supply of garbage for 25-30 years, or the community pays a penalty. Recycling must be kept small. More resources have to be mined to make tomorrow's products, and the virgin resources are already running low. Good recovery systems reclaim the materials for production and create more jobs. That's why there's an international movement toward Zero Waste. The pyrolysis speople don't want communities to think Zero Waste is possible. But it is. Look up zwia.
            1. O
              Om Praksah
              Mar 1, 2017 at 11:28 am
              Thank you for the information article, I did not know that plastic waste can be converted into oil and gas.
              1. Priyanka Salunkhe
                Feb 22, 2017 at 11:10 am
                I came to know about Suhas Dixit and his company Pyrocrat Systems which provides machinery to convert waste into fuels when I was doing my research for my thesis. I realized his pion towards saving environment is huge and its makes you think about your surroundings atleast for once.
                1. Priyanka Salunkhe
                  Feb 23, 2017 at 6:19 am
                  If people follow the rules, surely a major problem of global warming can be reduced to certain extent. Suhas Dixit along with his company Pyrocrat Systems is doing a good job in converting waste into fuel.
                  1. R
                    Rohit Malkar
                    Feb 21, 2017 at 7:30 am
                    I am Rohit R. Malkar studying in Pillai HOC Polytechnic Rsayani in third year of civil engineering department. We have a group of 6 student for our acedemic project based on pyrolysis of solid waste. We want to visit to, pur and Taloja plant for information about Pyrolysis of solid waste treatment and manage.Therefore I kindly request you to grant us permission for the visit.
                    1. Sapna Gopal
                      Feb 21, 2017 at 7:06 am
                      The scenario may not be very encouraging, but it is not so bleak as well. Private organisations and initiatives on an individual level are working to manage the country's garbage woes. For instance, a company in Pune is converting waste from households into compost and has also spread its work to other cities. There's also the instance of Poonam Bir who has porised the concept of using pots to make compost. In Bangalore, a company is using plastic waste to lay roads. E waste is also being managed by some concerns now. In fact, in cities, electronic stores and some big departmental stores are also collecting e-waste and s. These are just some initial measures, but they have been very effective in ensuring that waste is not dumped at landfills. More recently, India's biggest waste to energy plant will be established. What is required is spreading awareness among people on how waste should be managed.
                      1. S
                        Satish Chikodi
                        Mar 2, 2017 at 5:29 am
                        In my View today big corporates should come in front to take up the Munil Corporation under CSR.With Proper collection of House Hold waste Garbage one can convert the Garbage to Fuel Pellets & generate power which can be setoff thru the grid with thier plant / unit power consumption.
                        1. S
                          Feb 23, 2017 at 6:23 am
                          Interesting and informative
                          1. A
                            ashok kapoor
                            Feb 20, 2017 at 6:31 am
                            To promote one technology, it is not right for a report to marginalise other technologies as all of them are working in their domains treating seperate wastes. Either the reporter is biased towards this company or fact are not clear with the respective writer.The SWM has declared the best practices in processing and disposal and it is advised that you update your knowledge before creating such perceptions. Biomethenation is the only solution and MSW rukes also define the same. So please do not mislead people.
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