Pakistan is one of those countries in which the population is on the rise rapidly. With an ever-increasing population, the metropolitan cities like Lahore produce a large amount of waste daily.
Rather than dumping this waste it can be recycled into a number of useful products. This concept is widely practiced in many foreign countries. With the help of this process, the waste is transformed into useful products while the streets and environment remain clean.
Moreover, a large chunk of Pakistan’s population is earning their livelihood through the agriculture sector. To enhance and increase the production, quality and richness of the soil, farmers use many expensive locally produced and imported fertilisers. These chemical fertilisers increase the yield of crops but also damage the quality of the food that we consume. Organic fertiliser can be a good alternative as it has less chemicals. By recycling municipal waste through a proper process and treatment, the organic materials can be extracted from that waste.
According to documents received from the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), Bol News has learnt that LWMC plans to improve the chemical properties of compost in future as per the required parameters. This will help the LWMC in revenue generation as well as reduction in municipal solid waste that is being currently disposed of at a landfill site.
The documents available with Bol News state that the project utilises organic content of municipal solid waste of Lahore which is mainly consisting of household kitchen waste, to convert it into compost (organic soil supplement), commonly known as compost fertiliser, through a process of 60 to 90 days of aerobic/semi-aerobic composting.
The product is marketed as Beliya in the local market. Composting is an environment-friendly process that turns the organic matter into a value-added product. This eventually goes back to the soil, hence effectively and efficiently handling the ever-increasing waste management issue.
Compost (Beliya) is a 100 per cent naturally rich organic amendment used for improving the performance of all types of soil. It contains no synthetic chemicals; its natural occurring nutrients are derived slowly from the raw material used. It is rich in valuable micro-organisms and humus content, and can be used for a wide range of agricultural fertilisers.
The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) signed an agreement with Lahore Compost Private Limited (LCL) in 2004 to process 500 to 1,000 MT municipal solid waste (MSW) per day for production of compost ie natural soil supplement.
The project was set up on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, whereupon the project was to be transferred to CDGL after a period of 25 years. This was the first public-private partnership project in Pakistan on such a large scale in the area of MSW recycling. As per the BOT agreement, responsibility of the CDGL was to provide land of about 300 kanals and supply of MSW.
After the establishment of LWMC, the responsibility to provide requisite amount of MSW to LCL was transferred to LWMC under the Services and Assets Management Agreement (SAMAA) signed between LWMC and CDGL. Reportedly, the project was expected to process more than 500 MT of solid waste on a daily basis while contributing environmental benefits by sequestering the emission of methane (a major greenhouse gas) generated during anaerobic decomposition of biodegradable matter.
In December 2015, LCL requested for early closure of the project due to non-compliance with the terms of the BOT agreement. Subsequently, the LWMC board of directors approved the takeover of the compost plant and termination of the BOT agreement with M/S Lahore Compost Private Limited. Compost plant was taken over by LWMC on September 30, 2016 and the first operations startup ceremony was held on November 25, 2016 and rehabilitated on Nov 1, 2022.
Ifra Naeem, deputy manager communication LWMC elaborated the plan set in motion to execute the compost plant project. While explaining the process of the project Ms Naeem shared the following details with Bol News.
Handling of MSW
MSW is being received through LWMC vehicles comprising mostly compactors and open dumpers. These vehicles unload at a concrete pad which serves as a temporary storage of MSW before sorting. The intake vehicles entering the compost plant are guided for unloading at designated locations fixed for MSW, green waste, and cow dung. The unloaded waste is first physically inspected so that any unwanted material may be discarded at this point.
Segregation of MSW is done through both manual and mechanical means. Manual sorting of MSW is done at the belt conveyor, negative sorting of inert items (bricks, stones, ceramic, glass, etc) and oversize green waste is done first, closed polythene bags of kitchen waste are opened, and ferrous items are separated with the help of an industrial magnet.
Then screening of pre-sorted MSW is done; here the incoming stream of MSW is divided into two components. Fine material comprising organics like food and kitchen waste, dirt, sand and small-sized plastics passes through the screens while coarse material comprising clothes, plastics, diapers, and small quantities of organic material retains on the screens. Fine organic material is then shifted to the windrow pad for composting. Manual sorting of the coarse material retained on the screen is done again on a belt conveyor for separation of undesirable items for combustible material.
After final sorting and screening, coarse material mainly comprises combustible items ie plastics, synthetic fibre, paper/board, dried biomass etc termed as SCM is collected and piled up or displaced with the help of a wheel loader for loading.
Sand bags, dead animals, and bricks/stones, concrete blocks, and unused old MSW slush are rejected at landfill dumping sites with the help of dumper trucks.
Composting is a process involving bio-chemical conversion of organic matter into humus. A composting process seeks to harness the natural forces of decomposition to secure the conversion of organic waste into organic manure.
Compost contains a considerable amount of inert material, so it is first sieved and then filled into bags.