Treating solid waste | Centre for Science and Environment

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Treating solid waste

CSE started this practice to showcase successful decentralised management of the solid waste and also to reduce the discharge of the solid waste from its own campus. Solid waste composting is a process to prepare compost from the biodegradable organic material which can be used as soil conditioner or organic fertilizer.

Two types of wastes generated in the CSE: 

  1. From leftover cooked food (collected from canteen) 

  2. From uncooked raw vegetable waste ( also known as kitchen waste) and dry leaves 

Effective Micro-organism Solution for Composting EM is a liquid concentrate containing natural micro-organisms which helps in the degradation of the organic compound. It hastens up the treatment or decomposition process and also significantly eliminates the odour and flies problem associated with composting.Preparation of EM solution requires mother solution, jaggery or molasses (sheera) and fresh water.

Preparation of extended EM solution:

  1. 250ml of mother culture , 250 ml of molasses also known as Sheera is added in the container to activate the culture. 

  2. 4.5 litres of fresh water is added to the above solution and kept undisturbed for five days. This is the extended  EM solution for composting.

  3. 5 litres of extended EM solution can be used for 20 days.

Preparation of final EM extract from cooked food by the application of extended EM solution:

  1. Approximately 3-5 kgs of cooked food leftover/waste from the canteen is collected and stored in a drum of 50 litres capacity everyday.

  2. 500 ml of EM solution (containing 250 ml extended EM solution with 250 ml of water) is added daily to the container (A) (as shown in the photograph below).

  3. This process of adding cooked food waste and EM solution is continued for one month.

  4. After a month, the container is left undisturbed for a week. This is done to provide sufficient time for complete degradation of the all waste added.

  5. In the meantime , a fresh container (B) is used for the same process.

  6. After a week, the liquid from the container A is collected in a separate bottle. This liquid contains the final EM extract which is used in composting of kitchen waste.

  7. The drum contains gravel as filter material at the bottom of the tank in order to obtain clear fuild. Approximately 25-30 litres of solution is collected in a month.

Extended EM solution added for the decomposition of coooked food and to prepare the extract

Extract obtained from the cooked food


 Composting from kitchen waste (raw/uncooked vegetable) by the application of final EM extract:

  1. A three pit system is installed at the CSE premises with the capacity of 4 cub feet per pit. The dimensions of each pit is 2x2x1 feet.

  2. Kitchen waste (fruit peels, raw vegetables) of approx 5 kg per day is added daily in the first pit. This process continues up to 15 days.

  3. After 15 days , the partially degraded contents from the pit A are transferred to the pit B. The pit A is then free to be filled again with the next batch of the raw materials.

  4. This is followed by further degradation in pit B for next 15 days and then transferred to the pit C. This final decomposition takes further 15 days for preparation of compost.

  5.  This entire process continues for 45-50 days. The prepared compost is dark brown/black in colour.

    Note : During compost preparation , final Effective Microorganism (EM) solution is added in pit B and C to expedite the process.


Raw vegetables and dry leaves added to the pit A

Composting in Pit B and C

Final compost in Pit C


Anil Agarwal


Anil Kumar Agarwal was the founder-director of the Centre for Science and Environment, India’s leading environmental NGO. Agarwal spent his lifetime advocating policies that involve the people in natural resource management and learn from India’s own traditions.

Sunita Narain


Sunita Narain has been with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) since 1982. She is currently the director general of the Centre and the treasurer of the Society for Environmental Communications and editor of the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth.


  • Environmental issues like climate change, water availability, pollution, waste generation and disposal are commanding considerable global attention. Industries, as a major user of raw materials and energy and source of pollution and waste generation, have a major role in addressing current and emerging environmental issues.

  • CSE is organizing a global workshop on SMART and Affordable Monitoring titled “Asia-Africa Regulators Conclave on SMART & Affordable monitoring”, which is scheduled from 5 to 7 February 2018.

    Two of the main factors of sustainable development are air and water quality. Since they are important for basic human needs and development, it is therefore imperative to monitor air and water quality in order to ensure that their quality meet the regulatory standards.

  • Date:  23-25 January 2018
    Venue: Marasa Umubano Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda
    Language: English


About CSE

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi. CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.

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