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Waste, a word we throw around for anything that serves us no value. Let’s take a closer look into the waste that our campus produces everyday, starting with a look at our daily routine.
At around 7 AM if you take a stroll around campus, you will see women hard at work, clearing fallen leaves off the pavements. They say they are satisfied with what they do but we can help make their job easier. Not much later in the day, at around 8:30 am, groups of workers come out of the 1K hostel with plastic covers and buckets in hand, ready to pick up waste surrounding the hostel. Once you’re done with your classes at 1 PM and finally make your way to your mess, women come in to sweep out the classrooms.
Messes And Food Waste
Firstly, let’s delve into how the mess at Ladies Hostel works. On enquiring with the branch manager of Shakti Caterers Pvt. Ltd; the mess contractor for Priyadarshini Mess, the following points came up.
First things first, the manager claimed that no waste is produced in the mess kitchen apart from the leftovers that remain after students eat. On asking how this was achieved, he explained that a software is used which helps in calculating a daily estimate on how meals must be prepared. The contract exists for a meal plan of 1061 students. The approximate count is made for 1000; considering negligible cases. An extra 2% of food is prepared for parents that may come visit, guests and mess workers. It also includes day scholars (since they rarely ask us to show mess cards; this usually happens during exams).
The branch manager has been working for 4 years now and has a good idea of how many students stay and leave during weekends, mass bunks, festivals, etc. He also cross-checks with security guards about the people who leave for home. The mess is open for all students who register for winter mess during winter holidays, for whom they prepare food accordingly. Moreover, a surplus of 1-2% is made for those who pay and eat on the spot. Extra menu items like egg, chicken etc. are decided based on the mess menu, which they claim are never wasted.
The minimal waste that is generated, according to the branch manager, is either thrown off as garbage or supplied for experimental purposes in research columns in the college.
Next, let’s take a look at the government mess. We asked the mess supervisor and the MR the following questions:
1) How much food waste is produced daily?
Nearly 10 kg of rice and about 2 kg worth of curries are wasted daily. The reason for this being the varying number of diners. Around 200 kg of food is produced daily. On bad days 50 kg of it goes to waste whereas on other days surplus is needed. On the contrary, little to none of the non-veg food is left over.
2) How do you deal with said leftovers/waste?
The waste is segregated and labelled as ‘veg’ and ‘non-veg’ before disposal. The ‘veg’ is taken to a bio plant behind the mess daily twice, once after breakfast along with the previous day’s dinner and after lunch.
As for the ‘non-veg’, it is collected and taken off-campus to be fed to stray animals.
3) Advice to mess diners?
Often students pay more attention to their phones ignoring the food on their plates. Take food in small increments (table-side service) and pace yourself.
Brief Overview Of Industry-Academia Meet By Waste Management Sector
A meeting to address this issue was conducted on 28th to 29th Feb 2020, with chief guest Mr. S. Sairam, General Manager of Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. Exhibitors and participants ranged from experts in said sector to NGOs to allied organizations. Over 20 stalls showcasing models for waste management were on display at the conference. Director N.V. Ramana Rao announced the launch of a new M.Tech program in Waste Management with 20 seats.
Steps Taken In Other Universities
Here’s some insight into practices carried out by other institutions. IIT Gandhinagar, reputed to be an eco-friendly campus, claims to own an efficient waste segregation and disposal system along with hosting Jal Mandaps; an initiative of rainwater harvesting for drinking water. The campus also converts food waste to biogas and compost. The current practices of solid waste management in MITS Campus, Gwalior are also noteworthy. Students of the Architecture department make use of the scrap waste to make decorative furniture near the cafeteria. In Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru, 3 waste management units convert wet waste to manure every day. Segregation of waste into different categories and the use of a vermicomposting unit for organic waste is practiced at St. Philomena College, Puttur. Furthermore, Student clubs and unions (like NCC, NSS, Eco Club etc.) often conduct awareness drives regarding waste management.
Small Steps To A Greener Tomorrow
● Disposal of garbage in designated bins.
● Discarding wrappers/cups purchased from food street and dispose of them accordingly.
● Take what you can eat, food waste is no silly matter.
● Most people use water coolers to wash their hands when sinks don’t work. Use a glass of water instead.
● Plates are to be put back in designated places after you are done eating. Leaving plates behind also serves as discomfort for fellow diners.
“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.”
We are more or less bound to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ ideology but that isn’t the case with garbage. Take a stroll behind your hostel buildings or outskirts of the old blocks and sometimes you will see organic waste being burnt just so that it can be easily disposed off. Sometimes the scenes outside the messes after a Special Mess are truly disheartening, but the next day where does all the waste go? Let’s hope that the students and the institute make further strides in dealing with this issue and together pave the way for a greener NITW.
-written and curated by Ayman Shaikh, Mahitha Reddy Maram, Tanzeela Inam, NMC reporters.