We all know that Methane (CH4) is a product of the anaerobic decomposition of the organic matter in municipal solid waste disposed on the landfill is a greenhouse gas, which has 21 times the global warming potential as compared to carbon dioxide (CO2) with a long lifespan of 100 years. Devoting 35 long years in a German company in its different departments and witnessing the distinguished changes in waste management in that country, German Metallurgical Scientist Dr Gurudas Samant, originally a Goan by birth, is vocal about the garbage menace in Goa. Expressing concern over its ways of disposal, this son of the soil, offers environment friendly solutions in his soon-to-be released book and speaks to HERALD over clever disposal of garbage
He was born in Margao and studied in local New Era High School. His primary and secondary education was in Marathi and English. He did Bachelor of Engineering in Metallurgy at Poona University and then got his masters degree at the University of Aachen. He received his doctorate at the University of Berlin. Meet Dr Gurudas Samant, a metallurgist scientist who is German by citizenship and Goan by heart.
With around 114 patents and 280 publications to his credit this scientist is well versed with different languages and keeps writing articles and books in German as well as English language. Researching in waste management has been his first love for over three decades. Dr Samant, 62, visits Goa every year to spend some months at his homeland and offer his services to her people. He has not forgotten his mother tongue Konkani. “Hanv Goicho, neej Goemkar. Konkani mhaji maibhaas. Hanv ti kaso visartalo? (I am a Goan. Konkani is my mother tongue. How can I forget it?),” asks Dr Samant in fluent Konkani.
In Germany for four decades now, Dr Samant worked for 35 years with the German company Lurgi in its different departments. He was with Lurgi Chemie, Lurgi A G, Lurgi Energy and Environmental GMbH and Lurgi Lentjes AG where he was involved with the commissioning and planning of metallurgical and chemical plants. Engineering, development and planning of new and existing processes on industrial and pilot plants in the field of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, chemical plants, CFB power plants, cement and glass industry and communal, industrial waste, and hazardous waste incineration plants as well as sewage sludge incineration plants.
Highlighting the future scenario of waste management in Germany, Dr Samant says, “From 2020 all municipal solid waste in Germany is to be recovered as much as possible and landfills are to be practically abolished. They are working towards this goal and are sure that by 2015 it should be accomplished.”
Dr Samant explains how with the introduction of this Packaging Ordinance Act recycling quota of 42 per cent in 1993 was achieved, which further increased to 72 per cent in 1995 and to 75 per cent in 1999. At present these quotas have been exceeded by 90 per cent. The other data gives the Recovery rates of 75 per cent for municipal solid waste, 82 per cent for commercial waste and 90 per cent for construction and demolition waste. Around 2.73 million tonnes of glass were collected across Germany, with a recycling quota of 91.21 per cent. The endorsement of modern waste management created a turnover of around 40 billion euro and more than 160,000 jobs.
“Waste doesn’t exist in nature. It is a human creation and invention. We have to turn it into a resource,” advises Dr Samant. It is necessary to collect, sort, recycle, recover bio-degradable and recover energy from the waste material and go back to the old ideal which is still practiced in some of the villages in India. New technologies such as mechanical biological treatment, bio-drying and refused derived fuel (RDF) from municipal waste are on the market and give a better approach to the problem of municipal solid waste in regard to utilization. It is important to see that only ecological and economical combinations of these different processes can be combined to achieve the goal – waste as a resource, he feels.
How do the Germans deal with the waste? The ‘Green Dot’ or ‘Grüner Punkt’ system has been one of the most successful recycling initiative and fight against growing garbage heaps in Germany. Germany produces 30 million tons of garbage annually. The waste separation and segregation at household level is prominent feature of German waste management systems. This system is well organised with information and brochure regarding the type of waste disposal and colour of waste bin on a municipal level,” shares Dr Samant.
“The logo green dot indicates to consumers that the packaging waste can be disposed of in a friendly manner. This clever system has led to less paper, thinner glass and less metal being used, thus creating less garbage to be recycled. The net result: a drastic declines of about one million tons less garbage than normal every year in Germany. The main part of the success was the co operation of consumers, producers, retailers and the municipalities,” explains Dr Samant.
“The bins are usually at the doorstep, and are colour coded; blue, yellow, brown and grey. Sometimes the whole bin is the colour in question, sometimes just the lid. The colour of the lid is the key. Some communities charge an additional base fee according to household size or number of bins or require a minimum bin volume to be paid for each household,” he adds.
Dr Samant says, “For India we can solve the garbage problem ecologically and economically very easily through the following four measures –
a – Door-to-door collection for the biodegradables,
b - Composting of biodegradables (more than 50 per cent of municipal solid waste is biodegradable). We can earn from selling compost,
c - The rest 50 per cent with the new developments or processes in Germany of mechanical biological treatment (MBT), bio-drying and RDF production. These processes are ecological and economical and at present used in Germany, Italy, UK etc. We can earn from selling RDF (refused derived fuel) as substitute fuel for coal,
d- Considering waste as a resource and without landfill.
Dr Samant suggests that biodegradable substances must be collected separately if they are to be turned into compost and fermentation residues with low levels of pollutants.
Since the successful introduction of the German industry-funded dual system, similar ‘Green Dot’ systems have been introduced in most other European countries like Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
Dr Samant speaks at length on bio-waste ordinance act, heavy metal limits European compost standards (mg/kg dm), incineration plants with Dioxin/Furan and Mercury removal units, air emissions limit values for incineration and co-incineration of waste under EU directive, landfill act and development of mechanical biological treatment, the battery ordinance act, electrical and electronic scrap in the detailed chapters of his book. “I wish I could extend my expertise and knowledge on dealing with waste in Goa. After the publication of my book, I am planning to educate generation next through schools. I want to make Goa free of garbage,” Dr Samant sounds optimistic.