Environment Technology

Waste to Energy – a vegetable market that generates electricity from food waste

A vegetable market that converts food waste to energy

Bowenpally vegetable market in Hyderabad took a very novel initiative to convert its daily food waste to energy. The innovative waste management system generates energy in the form of bioelectricity, biofuel and bio manure. The generated electricity powers the market back, and on the other hand, biofuel is consumed while cooking food in the market’s canteen.

Why waste management is important

Why is waste management required after all? What is the current state of affairs?

Every time we cook food there is a certain amount of food waste that is generated. This could be in the form of rotten vegetables, peels or even leftovers from our plates. One could imagine the amount of waste produced in larger establishments like restaurants, canteens and community kitchens. This waste is disposed of in the municipal truck via the trash cans in our house or restaurants. For most citizens, this is the end of the story.

In the lack of proper waste management facilities, what happens next to the disposed of waste is quite damaging to our society as a whole. The collected waste is eventually dumped into large landfill sites that, mind you, are not very far from our cities. With tonnes of waste collected in a landfill, it is a breeding ground for all kinds of diseases. The stench from the piled up garbage travels to a great distance, which is just one of the adverse effects of the tonnes of accumulated trash. It also leads to severe groundwater contamination and soil contamination in the nearby region, which indirectly results in many long term diseases for the neighbouring inhabitants.

Waste landfill of Ghazipur, New Delhi
source: theprint

To put things into perspective, the infamous landfill site of Ghazipur in New Delhi, which caught fire a few years back, is more than 65 metres tall now. This mountainous landfill holds more than 140 lakh metric tonnes of waste.

How food waste is converted into energy in the Bowenpally market

Coming back to the ingenious solution deployed by the vegetable market in Hyderabad. Each day, tonnes of vegetables are disposed of in the market due to various reasons. Some vegetables are junked because they are rotten, while some are discarded from the unsold inventory. Approximately, 10 tonnes of waste is generated on a daily basis. This food waste is collected in a plant, where it is converted to 500 units of electricity and 30 kgs of biofuel.

The process of converting waste to energy is rather simple and low tech. The uniformly sized waste vegetables are put on a conveyor belt which pushes the vegetables into a shredder. Next, the grinder further crushes the shredded waste into a pulp, which later reaches a digester. Inside the digester, bacteria consume the food waste and give out methane and carbon dioxide. Following up, the resultant biogas is stored in multiple chambers. In the last step, burning the cached biogas produces electricity which illuminates the street lights and powers the market’s canteen which serves roughly 800 meals a day.

All-round appreciation of the sustainable effort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Man Ki Baat, lauded the efforts of the local vegetable market in being self-reliant and contributing to a cleaner environment. Indeed a perfect example of converting waste to wealth.

Signing off now, stay tuned for similar information about events, which gives us hope of a better world for our future generations. See you all in our next episode.

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