A Step Towards Creating ‘Swacch Hotels’

The hospitality sector is one among the significant waste generators in the country. Much of the waste generated from within the kitchens, all day long buffets and in room dining leftovers are mostly hauled off to landfills.

The BioUrja plant at the Taj Coromandel in Chennai.

INDIA GENERATES more than 50 billion kgs of urban waste every year and most of this ends up in illegal dumpyards all around the country. Organic waste accounts to 40% of the urban waste. The perceived value of organic waste is zero or even negative. The huge energy potential of organic waste remains untapped. Waste disposal is one of the many issues that India is currently grappling with. With rapid urbanization, growing population and under-planned cities, waste problem is increasing by the day. The landfills in most of the cities are already overflowing, with no space to accommodate multiplying volumes of urban waste.

The hospitality sector is one among the significant waste generators in the country. Much of the waste generated from within the kitchens, all day long buffets and in room dining leftovers are mostly hauled off to landfills. Waste management is one among the complex issues plaguing the hospitality industry in India. Managing food waste from five star hotels, restaurants, resorts and other commercial hospitality centres is an enormous challenge that the industry is fighting against.

In a perfect world, there should be a closed loop between waste creation and recycling. Ideally speaking, every hotel ought to handle its own waste, reducing the burden on municipal corporations. To some extent, especially on the insistence of a few Pollution Control Boards (PCBs), select hotels have adopted in-house waste treatment solutions such as Organic Waste Convertors (OWCs). However, the adoption of such solutions has been low, primarily because it’s tough to reap the economic benefits from this approach. Hotels have been content with giving up the waste to segregators down the chain, but there is no accountability after that. Even if a responsible waste collector were to take the waste, the waste transport logistics process ends up leaving a significant carbon footprint. While most hotels do tie up with waste contractors, due to the lack of sound waste transportation practices and scientific landfills, most of this waste ends up in illegal dump yards.

With much focus on Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat initiative, the hospitality industry as generators of tons of waste every year needs to be a pioneer in converting its waste into resources that could help India to reduce its $180 billion fossil fuel imports.

The traditional Biogas plant as a waste management solution has been ineffective for a long time in more ways than one. Setting up a traditional biogas plant requires a huge space footprint making them unviable in urban areas due to high real estate costs. It’s low in efficiency, efficacy and does not stand out as an economically viable solution. Due to the above constraints, the hospitality sector has never championed the cause of biogas.

Addressing the above problem is GPS Renewables’ ‘BioUrja’, a compact and modern biogas plant that converts organic waste into energy. BioUrja was conceptualised to enable urban bulk waste generators to have an economically viable waste treatment solution of their own.

The BioUrja system is a high rate dry anaerobic digestion system that digests organic waste and generates biogas. BioUrja System, the first Internet of Things in the bioenergy space, is two to three times faster (in terms of digestion time), twice as efficient (in terms of gas output) than any other Biogas plants.

Unlike traditional solutions, Biourja suite is a complete solution consisting of a smart input system with shredders, an automated pressurized gas storage system, digestate treatment solution (as per international pollution control norms) and gas piping to the kitchen along with burners, making the transition for the customer hassle free. All BioUrja systems function 24*7 and deliver peak performance consistently. This is achieved through a proprietary Remote Monitoring System which tracks operational parameters of the system.

The high speed digestion mechanism of BioUrja system helps to generate more biogas per day therefore resulting in more savings for the clients. This pre-fabricated system is extremely compact, utilizes minimal space, odourless and can co-exist in any urban location.

In the hospitality sector, BioUrja solution has gained wide acceptance from industry giants like ITC Maurya in Delhi, Taj Coromandel in Chennai, Taj Palace in Delhi & other Taj group hotels are in process of considering this solution. Besides hospitality industry we have our presence in Educational institutions, NGOS and corporate business parks. While the primary motivation is an economically viable green solution for waste management, it also enables hotels to compete for international green certifications for their buildings.

Panduranga Rao- Director of Engineering, Taj Coromandel adds “At our hotel we categorise waste into into hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Earlier, we disposed our daily food waste to the landfills. Through the BioUrja plant set-up at our premise we are able to convert food waste into cooking gas where at least 1,000 staff eat every day. Now, 60% of the LPG used in the associate dining kitchen of the hotel is generated by the plant. The process, of turning waste to fuel which takes about a month, generated over 500 Kgs of biogas for the hotel last month. So hauling off leftovers to landfills is a thing of the past now. This new process reiterates our commitment towards sustainability by employing green practices.”

With a payback period of two to three years, The BioUrja is an economically viable solution that hotels must definitely explore. A compact and reliable captive biogas plant for such institutions can make business sense, and also solve a big problem for our cities.

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