Recently, the ‘Garden City’ of Bengaluru was described as having degenerated into a ‘Garbage City’. This is due to the existing disposal infrastructure and waste collectors being unable to keep up with decades of unchecked growth. To change this, Som Narayan and Kevin Houston, co-founders of Carbon Masters came up with an idea to fight this menace with their innovative approach to waste management that won WWF-India’s Climate Solver award 2017.
‘’Seeing my own city immersed in garbage made me see the global problem at face value and push for viable solutions’’, says Som, who was born and brought up in Bangalore.
The world has a global population of 7.6 billion, 50% of which resides in urban areas and is estimated to further rise to about 70% by 2050. This rapid pace of urbanization has the potential to bring about massive transformations for human society. At the same time, it also presents many environmental challenges.
Globally, 11.2 billion tonnes of waste is generated every year and is amongst the biggest threats affecting our ecosystem. Solid waste dumped at landfill sites produces large amounts of methane, accounting for 12 percent of total global methane emissions. Methane which is the second most common greenhouse gas (GHG) after carbon dioxide, has 21 times the global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide. In India, out of the 62 million tonnes of waste generated annually across 4000 cities and towns, 50 percent is organic and biodegradable, that can be disposed of in environmentally friendly ways.
To solve this ecologically damaging problem, Carbon Masters devised an innovative way for managing the organic waste by collecting and converting that waste into useful fuel. It collects the waste generated in their bio-CNG trucks from various bulk waste generating establishments such as IT parks, residential complexes and restaurants and then treats the waste anaerobically to produce methane gas and organic slurry. The gas is purified, compressed and bottled to form Carbonlites which is used as a substitute to LPG for cooking and as fuel in vehicles, while the slurry is treated to produce organic manure used as a replacement to chemical fertilizers. Carbonlites bottled bio-CNG, which is bottled in unique cascades of 2-4 cylinders is India’s first bottled bio-CNG brand. It saves 10-15% in costs as compared to conventional LPG, but unlike LPG, is carbon neutral in use and thus saves both costs and carbon emissions. Carbonlites organic manure is a carbon enriched fertilizer that helps farmers replace chemical fertilizers with an organic solution that is both cost-effective and has minimal environmental footprint.
The technology has seen a huge uptake from several market stakeholders. “Overall, Carbonlites has saved me approximately 15% in terms of consumption and price, simply because one cylinder lasts longer, as the fuel is completely utilised.’’, said Mr. Padmanabhan, Owner of Herbs and Spices restaurant in Bengaluru. For Mr. Sriram Adiga, MD, Adiga Residency, “Our chefs are extremely happy with the constant heat output. The Carbonlites system helps us cook faster and also reduce pilferage costs.”
Right from the collection of segregated waste until the production of Carbonlites and organic manure, Carbon Masters takes a 360 degree waste management approach. It ensures that it collects the organic waste using bio-CNG trucks and converts it into clean fuel and carbon enriched organic manure. By managing the operation, maintenance and sale of the products from end to end, Carbon Masters has created a sustainable revenue model, thus creating a circular economy.
Carbon Masters has also formed strategic alliances with Mahindra & Mahindra and Bombay Trading Company to set up multiple decentralized waste generating establishments. It has recently also set up an innovative decentralized waste management facility to manage the waste of the Koramangala ward in Bangalore, in partnership with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the administrative body responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets of the Greater Bangalore metropolitan area. To do this, Carbon Masters has developed unique space efficient biogas plant infrastructure (Carbonlites in a box) utilizing reused shipping containers that are modular, portable, saving transport costs, tipping fees & carbon emissions. “In the last 20 years of my experience in this field, I have not seen a development as innovative and practical as Carbonlites-In-A-Box.”, said Mr. Kumar Gowda, Project Coordinator, Biogas Training and Development Centre
University of Agricultural Sciences (GKVK), Bangalore. For Srinivas Reddy, Executive Engineer of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), “Our collaboration with Carbon Masters is helping us solve the waste disposal problem in the city. This is going to immensely benefit all stakeholders.”
It is estimated that this technology, if replicated globally, has the potential to reduce 28.6 million tonnes of GHG emissions by 2027.
Climate Solver is WWF’s global climate innovations platform to strengthen the development and widespread use of low carbon technologies, which radically reduce carbon-dioxide emissions or provide energy access. The platform stimulates the diffusion of innovative low carbon technologies and also generates awareness about them along with the overall value of innovation as an immediate and practical solution to climate change..
Know more about Climate Solver here.