Cummins Employees Help Zero-Garbage Ward Become a Success in Pune, India

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India Zero Garbage Ward 1With a population of over four million people, Pune, India, is an educational center that is slowly becoming an industrial hub. With the growing population, the city currently faces a huge problem – insufficient garbage disposal. Over 1,250 tons of solid waste are generated in the city every day. Most of the waste goes to local landfills where it is burned, leading to toxic fumes or water pollution, and causing health problems in neighboring villages.

Several factors contribute to this problem, including:

  • Wet and dry waste not being segregated/sorted
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure for solid waste processing
  • Availability of manpower
  • Unreliable waste-handling equipment and civic waste collection centers

In 2011, Cummins, in collaboration with various non-governmental organizations (NGO), implemented the zero-garbage project to address these problems in India’s Katraj Ward. Due to the success of the initial zero-garbage project, organizers planned to replicate the project in 20 additional wards through a horizontal deployment of resources by the Civic Authorities – Pune Municipal Corporation. However, employees soon realized that this approach could not be replicated in the Balewadi-Baner Ward, where Cummins’ new corporate office was recently inaugurated.

The stark differences in the demography of both wards made it difficult to deploy the project without any further innovation, especially in creating awareness about the segregation of wet and dry waste. To combat these issues, Cummins partnered with NGOs Janwani and SWaCH, and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to develop an innovative approach towards solid waste management, which in combination with the Katraj Ward model could be deployed across Pune.

The project began with organized rallies and door-to-door campaigns by employees to create basic awareness on waste segregation. Meetings were conducted with various housing societies. First, households were encouraged to restart the compost pits present within the society for decomposing wet waste. Adequate training was then provided to the society staff on how to operate the compost pits, and the PMC later issued notices to societies on when it was appropriate to activate the pits. Finally, a 40kVA diesel genset has been deployed to run any biogas that’s being generated from the wet waste.

India Zero Garbage Ward 2Having gauged that the weakest link in the solid waste management process is the unreliable pushcart, engineers from Cummins Research and Technology India launched a Community Impact Six Sigma project to design a low-cost pushcart with better ergonomics. The pushcarts are designed to improve the conditions of the waste collectors and simplify the process for collection of waste. The prototype for the pushcart was developed by Cummins, and the design has been shared with the PMC to be replicated across wards in the city for better waste collection.

Once implemented, the project reached over 14,500 households and led to an increase in the waste segregation at the source by 66 percent. The treatment of wet waste in local composting pits increased by 400 percent to over 2.5 tons per day, in addition to 6.5 tons per day processed at the local biogas plant. Consequently, the number of roadside garbage containers has been reduced by 33 percent.

The people in the Balewadi-Baner Ward are seeing the results of this project and live in a much healthier and cleaner area. With the success of the Katraj and Balewadi-Baner models, Cummins is ready with a holistically developed model that can be replicated across different demographics within the city.

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