Net zero waste must for buildings


    In Context

    • All upcoming housing societies and commercial complexes in the country will soon mandatorily have to ensure net zero waste and have their liquid discharge treated.
      • India currently generates 72,368 million litres per day of urban wastewater of which only 28% is treated


    • The directive is part of the Manhole to Machine-hole scheme for the complete removal of manual scavenging and has been formulated as a convergence of programmes like Swachch Bharat, NAMASTE (National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem), and AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation).
    • Integrating septic tank design into the building by-laws and adherence to standard specifications, geo-tagging all septic tanks and manholes for proper tracking, and reducing GST on mechanised cleaning vehicles is also to be considered.
    • A Make in India start-up for promoting low-cost technological solutions like mechanical spades as well as sensor sticks for gas detection is also being considered.

    What is Net Zero Waste?

    • The term net zero means achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon removed from it.
      •  This balance – or net zero – will happen when the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed.
    • Achieving net zero waste means reducing, reusing, and recovering waste streams (sludge) to convert them to valuable resources so that zero solid waste is sent to landfills.
    • It can be achieved by following methods:
      • Food waste reduction.
      • Date labeling.
      • Food redistribution.
      • Water stress reduction.
      • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
      • Citizen behaviour change.
    • 5 R’sof net zero waste:
      • Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – these are the “5 Rs” that make up the basic rules of zero waste.
    • United Nations SDG 6.3:
      • It aims at “halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” by 2030.

    Advantages of Net Zero waste

    • Lower energy costs:
      • Since reducing greenhouse gas emissions usually involves reducing energy use, a major benefit of net zero is lower energy costs. With energy prices rising globally, this is a particularly timely benefit.
    • Reduce GHG emissions:
      • The whole point of pursuing net zero is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which means fewer pollutants in the air and…
    • Less damage to Mother Earth:
      • The idea of saving the planet may seem lofty, but working towards net zero emissions is perhaps the biggest way we can fight climate change and preserve our planet for future generations.
    • Economic Benefit:
      • According to a 2021 Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ report the country’s economy could also be boosted if the sale of treated sewage is institutionalized. 
      • It has the potential to add close to ?3,285 crore annually.

    Way Forward

    • Achieving net-zero CO2 by 2050 and consequently stabilising global mean temperatures at approximately 1.5 degC above pre industrial levels would avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change predicted at 2 degC and above. 
    • The co-benefits of achieving net-zero results in a healthier population.