The city of Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra may be relatively prosperous, but on its roadsides you will often find waste food, discarded and left to rot, and creating a potentially serious health hazard. However, for the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI) this problem is also an opportunity.
Founded by scientists and social workers, ARTI looks to technology for solutions to rural issues. In the case of the waste in Pune, their solution is a domestic biogas plant. The plant breaks down the kitchen waste. The broken-down waste in turn produces biogas that can replace more polluting and expensive fuels. The whole process is neat and efficient.
And it is cost-effective. At only US$200 per plant, it pays its way in less than two years and detailed studies have pointed to a saving of 0.3 tonnes/year CO2 per plant. In total ARTI has installed 1000 plants with many more potential users in the pipeline.
Moreover, as a charity ARTI is committed to passing on skills. Design manuals and engineers encourage others to design and adapt their own plants, while ARTI itself is constantly expanding and refining its models. A compelling example of technology working best when coupled with a longer-term vision.