Why India needs strong commitment on waste management?

Monday, 27 April 2020 11:44

Waste management is all of the activities that handle waste materials, from the time it is made to its disposal. This includes how your business collects, transports, processes, recycles or disposes its waste. 

Managing what you waste in your business can equate to lost opportunities or profits.

Waste management is about being more efficient with raw materials and making the most of each stage of the production process. It is about how garbage can be used as a valuable resource. Waste management is something that each and every household and business owner needs. Waste management disposes of the products and substances that you use in a safe and efficient manner. 

Humans generate a great deal of waste as a byproduct of their existence. Every task, from preparing a meal to manufacturing a car, is accompanied with the production of waste material. This cannot be used for other things and needs to be disposed effectively. If not handled appropriately, waste can be transferred into a huge problem. 

On the generation end, waste management agencies have placed an increasing focus on reducing waste so that there is lesser waste to cope with. This can be done on an industrial level by developing more efficient processes, reducing packaging and so on. Individual consumers can also make a commitment to try and generate less waste. 

India’s urban population of 429 million citizens produce a whopping 62 million tonnes of garbage every year. Out of this, 5.6 million tonnes is the plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is the biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes is hazardous waste and 1.5 million tonnes is e-waste. A staggering figure of forty-three million tonnes of solid waste is collected annually, out of which only 11.9 million is treated which is 22-28%, while about 31 million tonnes of waste is left untreated and dumped at the landfill sites. 

Major metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata generate about 10 million tonnes of garbage every day. The problem is not the enormous amount of waste generation, but how a huge chunk of garbage is remained untreated every single day. 

Planning the waste management and re-cycling for all of the waste produced in this country is an enormous task. It involves both logistical planning and scientific knowledge and understanding to balance the impact on the environment, also the cost-effectiveness of the process. 

In India, the National Environmental Policy, 2006 suggests measures for controlling various forms of environmental pollution. It emphasis on the need for collection and treatment systems for recycling waste and devising measures for environmentally safe disposal of residues. 

The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source. It also needs to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery. Then reduced final residue is deposited scientifically in sanitary landfills. Sanitary landfills are the ultimate means of disposal for unutilized municipal solid waste from waste processing facilities and other types of inorganic waste that cannot be reused or recycled. Major limitation of this method is the costly transportation of MSW to far away landfill sites. 

A report by IIT Kanpur found the potential of recovering at least 15% of waste generated every day in the country. The report also said that it could provide employment opportunities to about 500000 rag-pickers. The report added that despite immense potential in big cities in this area, participation from non-profits or community is limited.

Mumbai has only three dumping grounds to handle the 9,600 metric tonnes of waste generated daily. The major garbage heaps here is as tall as a five-six storey building, standing 15 metres high. 

New Delhi, the capital city generates around 9000 metric tonnes of waste every day and is already sitting on ticking garbage bomb!

Talking about solid waste, according to a Central Pollution Control Board report, Maharastra tops in solid waste generation by generating over 26,820 tonnes of solid waste per day. Mumbai comes first as it generates 1,20,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. Delhi and Bengaluru are ranked second and third with 98,000 and 92,000 tonnes of e-waste generation respectively. The biggest threat to our environment comes from plastic. 60 major cities in India together complete over 3,500 tonnes of plastic waste every day, with cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad being the biggest culprits.

Research also shows that if India continues to dump untreated garbage at its current rate, then we will need a landfill of size 66,000 hectares which is 10 metres high and can hold 20 years worth of waste. That is almost 90% of Bengaluru’s area.

In the modern world burying all of our rubbish is not a sustainable solution. While primitive humans produced very little waste, and that which was produced would biodegrade quickly, modern humans produce much larger amounts of waste, much of which is not biodegradable. Additionally, many types of waste may be damaging to the soil, ground water and surrounding habitat. 

The most important reason for waste collection is the protection of the environment and the health of the population. 

Waste collection companies also sort the garbage into recyclable columns. Recycling not only helps in conserving our natural resources but also reduces the cost of production of many products. Glass, oil, plastic, paper can all be recycled which will ultimately put less pressure on natural resources to be manufactured. 

Lastly, waste management helps in conserving our planet’s natural beauty. Landscapes can be ruined through littering and places of tourist attraction can lose their attraction. It is also like blight for those who live in areas where waste collection and recycling is not managed effectively and responsibly. There are many challenges are getting faced by the waste management and recycling industries in India, but there are also a lot of excellent works going on to secure effectively and  ecologically sustainable recycling process.