In less than a year, the environment wing of Air India in Mumbai has converted more than 3,500 kg of garden and kitchen waste into 500kg of organic manure, thereby saving it from going to the already overburdened dumping grounds. In an attempt to find alternative means of disposing green waste, close to 200 volunteers from different departments of the old airport complex and Air India building, Kalina, have been carrying out vermiculture, using earthworms for generating compost (vermicomposting) within the complex, as per a report in Hindustan Times. Air India concluded their year-long effort by sharing the entire 500kg of organic manure with employees, which will be used for tree plantation and gardening within the complex.
This is a first for the airline, as their employees had voluntarily participated in this project with a commitment to spread awareness on energy conservation and recycling, said Mukesh Bhatia, regional director, western region, Air India. Their efforts gain significance as according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Environment Status report of 2015-16, the city generates 30.96 lakh tonnes of trash annually. Of this, the civic body had a target of recycling 24.76 lakh tons in 2015. However, the solid waste management (SWM) department managed to recycle only 74,304 tonnes, which means, as against BMC’s target of recycling 80 percent of the city’s waste in the last financial year, they only managed to touch the 3 percent mark.
Only 5 percent of housing societies and educational institutions in Mumbai segregate waste and 2 percent are composting waste at source, according to BMC. On March 22, 2015, the Air India team visited the BMC ward office at Andheri to study and obtain information for setting up of vermiculture units. The team understood the process for setting up vermiculture crates with the help of NGO Hariyali and procured earthworms to start the process. “The ground work for fabrication of crates was started using scrapped material from its own premises to reduce costs. Four units were commissioned and we began recycling garden waste,” said an Air India employee. Air India officials added that the project will help reduce carbon footprint.