By Virali Gokaldas and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Mumbai’s rapid growth, high density, and sheer size present significant challenges for its waste management system. The enormous quantity of waste generated in the city makes large-scale, technologically driven “solutions” tempting. However, the opposite approach—a highly decentralized, people-powered model of waste management—has proven successful. Dry waste is separated out for recycling while organic waste, Mumbai’s largest and heaviest waste stream, is treated close to its source through composting pits and biogas. This approach has reduced the need for costly transportation and landfill space while providing green jobs for waste pickers.