Turning Religious Waste Into Reusable Organic Products

New green waste processor allows for the reuse of organic festival waste

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

India. Indians are often born religious and offer prayers in various ways that use multiple kinds of puja materials. Flowers are one of the most important constituents of a puja. Flowers act as a medium of respect and make the atmosphere pleasing and gracious. It does not matter whether it is a temple, a church, or a mosque; offering flowers and floral ornaments is an age-old tradition in India. Near all places of worship, you find lots of flower shops.

Flowers are also used during various events: to beautify marriage pandals, parties, offered as a token of love, and to greet leaders, achievers, and other prominent persons. Also, over the last few years, the business of floral decoration is becoming more popular.   

What happens to the flowers

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But no one ever thinks about the fate of these flowers once they are offered in temples or used in various functions and events. It is a pity that, at the end of the day, these flowers either find their way to the dustbins or are left under trees to degrade and decompose. Or they are thrown in a nearby river, pond, or lake to rot and pollute the environment.

A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report says that water quality at holy sites along rivers is very poor. In addition, waste that is disposed of in landfills decomposes to create methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Asking questions and finding solutions

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Some have questioned if the flowers and other horticulture waste can be reprocessed to eliminate the problem.

Several techniques are available today for recycling plastic, paper, metal, and glass, but there is no system in India to recycle organic waste such as flowers and wastes generated daily in kitchens, hotels, gardens, slaughterhouses, etc.

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One possible solution that has been reported was the burning of these organic wastes. But these result in harmful emissions, which in turn leads to more pollution. We have already seen the ill effects of burning crop remains in North India, which resulted in heavy pollutions in Delhi and surrounding areas. 

These issues have been a major cause of concern in India since independence. It has recently gotten a lot of media hype after Prime Minister Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. In addition, a nation-wide cleanliness drive has been launched to deal with the ever-increasing problem of waste. Also, numerous groups have come forward and are trying to find various unique ways of waste management.

In this context, the management of worn-out flowers is worth mentioning. Efforts by CIVL (Clean India Venture), a subsidiary of Graphisads Pvt Ltd, for reprocessing flower waste has resulted in the production of hawan samagri, samidha, and dhoop, which are re-usable in pujas. The solution seems feasible as it helps to catch the organic waste before it starts degrading and polluting the environment.

Fate of river Yamuna

The waters of river Yamuna have been very badly polluted by organic wastes such as these flowers. In a bid to stop Yamuna River from getting further polluted, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, came forward and recently installed a machine called the “Green Waste Reprocessor” (GWR). The machine has a 500 kg per day capacity and is housed at Nigambodh Ghat, a crematorium in Delhi.

The Re-processor and the product. Photo Credit: www.thehindubusinessline.com

This crematorium ground in Delhi will process flower waste and turn it into havan samgri (organic manure). On the occasion of installation, Dr. Vardhan said, “With GWR, the entire volume of flower waste will be reprocessed on a daily basis, thereby saving our River Yamuna from Pollution.” This green philosophy of zero burnings, zero landfills, and zero river pollution from organic waste is best suitable for megacities.

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