Gopinath Prabhu, the owner of New Krishna Bhavan in Malleswaram, has been running his restaurant on zero waste model for four years.

Meet this Bengaluru man who shows a zero-waste restaurant is possible with a little effort
news Waste management Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 18:42

The first time Gopinath Prabhu wished there was a more effective way to get rid of the waste from his restaurant was in 2013. “The contractor assigned to us by the BBMP knew we didn’t have another option if he refused to send his lorry. He had been asking for more and more money for the last two years. He asked for a hike again and wouldn’t send his lorry unless I paid him Rs 7,000 a month,” Gopinath narrates.

“But I had had enough of their unscrupulous ways,” he adds.

Born and brought up in Bengaluru, Gopinath began managing his father’s restaurant, ‘New Krishna Bhavan’ in Malleswaram in 1969. And from 2013, the 66-year-old has been running the restaurant on a zero-waste model. He disposes and/or recycles the entire half a ton of waste generated in his restaurant on a daily basis.

“We were known as the garden city. But we’re turning into a garbage city,” he rues. “When I stopped taking the services of the contractor, I only had the will to do something about the waste produced in my restaurant. And where there is a will, there is a way,” he asserts.

He consulted with Ramakant, a waste management expert, who guided Gopinath as to how he could segregate the waste at the source, and implement the 3 R’s at his restaurant: reduce, reuse, recycle.

A majority of the waste produced at New Krishna Bhavan is wet waste. Of this, about 200 kg is water content. “But if you dump it just like that, the sewerage will get blocked,” Gopinath warns.

“Most of this wet waste is a result of customers wasting food. If there is something on the plate that you’d rather not eat, return it before you start eating. But most people just leave it there. After that, it cannot be used by anyone else and has to be thrown,” he explains.

Gopinath has trained his employees to segregate the waste throughout the day as they do their chores (like when they wash the dishes or cook), ensuring that they do not have to spend extra time after the restaurant shuts to segregate the waste. The wet waste goes into a bin, and dry waste such as grocery bags, plastic and bottles goes into a sack.

This wet waste is sent each morning to a piggery located 30 kilometres from Bengaluru. A person comes to collect the wet waste for 350 pigs each morning. The dry waste meanwhile, is given to rag pickers, which ensures that it is recycled.

Apart from wet and dry waste, there is also 10-15 kilograms of ash collected in a week. And about 50kg coffee and tea powder waste is generated per day. While the latter is also wet waste, Gopinath doesn’t send it to the piggery. “This is used for an organic fertiliser dump at a park near my home. The manure is then used to treat the plants in the park,” he says. The ash meanwhile is given to a milkman who uses it for manuring.

Even the leftovers of the 200-odd coconuts used in the restaurant every day are not wasted. Gopinath gives the husk back to the seller, who sells it to rope manufacturers. The shells, Gopinath says, are used as fuel for heating water.

Ramakant also advised Gopinath to reduce the waste generation, prompting him to switch from disposable utensils to stainless steel ones. But there was another problem—the amount of fruits, vegetables and cooked food going waste because they were not used in the day.

“When we started out in 2013, I was noticing 5 kg cooked rice being thrown. Other times it was 3 kg capsicum or 35 lemons which were delivered but not used, so they rotted,” Gopinath recounts.

To address this, Gopinath began keeping two log books. The first records the amount of garbage going out every morning. The second one records the leftover food from the day. By keeping these records, Gopinath was able to figure out where they were going wrong and reduce wastage to quite an extent.

He also ensures whatever cooked food is leftover from the day does not go to waste. “I give it to my employees and they give it to the poor and footpath dwellers when they go home,” Gopinath says.

One of the major challenges he faced during the initial months was getting the employees to cooperate. “I would tell them the way waste has to be segregated and disposed of. They would say yes at the time, but when I wasn’t around, they wouldn’t comply,” Gopinath says. Now, however, they have become habitual to doing it, he adds.

Gopinath is happy that he is able to do his bit to reduce the garbage in his beloved city. “I see the garbage truck come in around 9am. All the waste—wet and dry—is mixed in it. 9am is a peak hour for us as many people come in for breakfast. Not only am I saving financially, but I feel satisfied when I know I am wasting less, and that my restaurant’s garbage won’t end up in a landfill,” he said. 

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