Solid Waste Management

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    • Recently, with burgeoning population and even faster urbanisation, there has been an explosion in the generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Indian cities.

    About Solid waste management

    • Solid waste means any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and from community activities.
    • Solid-waste management means collecting, treating, and disposing of solid material that is discarded because it has served its purpose or is no longer useful.
      • It also offers solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash.

    Sources of Solid Waste

    • Residential: The garbage from these places includes food wastes, plastics, paper, glass, leather, cardboard, metals, yard wastes, ashes and special wastes like bulky household items such as electronics, tires, batteries, old mattresses and used oil.
    • Industrial: Industries are known to be one of the biggest contributors to solid waste. They include light and heavy manufacturing industries, construction sites, fabrication plants, canning plants, power and chemical plants.
    • Commercial: Commercial facilities and buildings are yet another source of solid waste today. Commercial buildings and facilities, in this case, refer to hotels, markets, restaurants, godowns, stores and office buildings.
    • Institutional: The institutional centres like schools, colleges, prisons, military barracks and other government centres also produce solid waste.
    • Municipal Services: Some of the solid waste brought about by the municipal services include street cleaning, wastes from parks and beaches, wastewater treatment plants, landscaping wastes and wastes from recreational areas, including sludge.
    • Agriculture: Crop farms, orchards, dairies, vineyards and feedlots are also sources of solid wastes.
    • Biomedical: Some of these solid wastes include syringes, bandages, used gloves, drugs, paper, plastics, food wastes and chemicals.  

    Pune’s women-driven SWaCH model

    • The Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) a trade union of informal waste-pickers and waste-buyers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad was formed in 1993 and got occupational identity in 2007.
    • SWaCH is a joint project of KKPKP and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) the first such entity created through municipal action.

    Effects/ Issues related to Solid waste management  

    • Pollution of the environment: Improper disposal of municipal solid waste can create unsanitary conditions, and these conditions in turn can lead to pollution of the environment and to outbreaks of vector-borne disease that is, diseases spread by rodents and insects.
    • Complex technical challenges: They also pose a wide variety of administrative, economic, and social problems that must be managed and solved.
    • Urban India alone generates nearly 0.15 million tonnes per day of MSW, with per capita generation ranging between 0.30 kg per day to 0.45 kg per day. The volume of waste is projected to reach 165 million tonnes by 2031 and 436 million tonnes by 2050.
    • Lack of awareness: It is important to note that the engagement of the formal waste management system remains low in the cities, primarily due to insufficient funds, low sectoral development and lack of know-how about sustainable waste management businesses.

    Significance of informal sector in Solid waste management

    • The informal sector may refer to individuals, families, and private sector enterprises working in solid waste management services, whose activities are not organised, sponsored, financed, contracted, recognised, managed, taxed or reported upon by governmental authorities.
      • Informal stakeholders are waste-pickers in dumpsites and at communal waste collection points, informal waste-collectors, itinerant waste-buyers, small junk shop dealers and big waste godown-owners.
    • In many developing countries including India waste collection and material recycling activities are majorly performed by the informal waste sector.
      • Various studies have shown that in developing countries the informal sector’s contribution in recovery of materials from municipal waste is much higher than that of formal waste management services.
    • Reducing the cost: The informal recycling sector reduces the cost incurred in the treatment and disposal of solid waste by extracting recyclables before the mixed waste is subjected to any specific treatment or haphazardly dumped into the landfills.
    • Backbone of the recycling industry: The informal sector is the backbone of the recycling industry in the country, contributing a lot in terms of environmental sustainability and circular economy. It also enormously contributes in reducing the economic burden of urban local bodies.
      • Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) became the first municipality in the country to register waste-pickers and catalogue scrap dealers.

    Challenges faced by people working in informal sector of Solid waste management

    • Unhygienic and unhealthy conditions: The informal sector lives in close proximity to dumpsites and works under unhygienic and unhealthy conditions. Often, the workers have no access to drinking water or public toilets.
    • Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE): They do not have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gumboots and aprons.
    • Burden of Diseases: due to the poor living and working conditions, malnutrition, anaemia and tuberculosis are common among them.
    • Occupational hazards: Waste-pickers are potentially exposed to a wide range of occupational hazards. Community waste bins and dumpsites act as breeding grounds for various bacterial and viral diseases.
    • Gastrointestinal ailments: waste-pickers often face gastrointestinal ailments. They have to segregate recyclables from mixed waste. At times, they handle sanitary waste, domestic hazardous waste and household biomedical waste with bare hands, which may cause various infections.
    • Infections are also caused by their contact with human and animal excreta, bodily fluids and dead animals. They also get cut by sharp objects, ragged metal edges and broken glass in the mixed waste.
    • Labour-intensive and least rewarding job: It is widely recognised that the informal sector engaged in waste collection and sorting carries out the most labour-intensive and least rewarding job of recovering recyclable materials from unsegregated waste.
    • Marginalisation: Despite their crucial role, informal waste-workers continue to be subjected to systemic marginalisation, economically as well as socially.
      • They are treated as dirty and unwanted elements of society, and they have to deal with exploitative social behaviour.
    • No social security and medical insurance: waste-pickers are not covered under any labour legislation, as a result, they do not benefit from social security and medical insurance schemes.

    Waste management Policy

    • Until 2000, we didn’t even have any law concentrating on how to deal with MSW.
    • Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000:
      • The 2000 rules were applicable on “every municipal authority responsible for the collection, segregation, storage, transportation, processing, and disposal of municipal solid wastes”.
    • Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016:
      • The Government has revamped the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 2000 and notified the new Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
      • They expanded the scope of application of MSW rules by including places of pilgrims, airports, special economic zones, ports and harbours, defence establishments and every domestic, institutional, commercial and any other non-residential solid waste generator under its ambit.
      • The Rules for the first time prescribe the duty of MSW generators. A Central Monitoring Committee is to be constituted for monitoring the implementation. Criteria for land filling and waste-to-energy plants are also provided.
      • The Central Pollution Control Board will have to coordinate with the State Pollution Control Board, review environmental standards, monitor implementation, publish guidelines and prepare an annual report on implementation.

    Steps taken by India in this regard

    • Conducting Swachh Survekshan
      • Various rounds of Swachh Survekshan (SS) were conducted by the MoHUA to encourage citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage-free and open-defecation-free cities, institutionalise existing systems through online processes, and create awareness amongst all sections of society.
    • Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities
      • To ensure continued scientific management of solid waste and motivate cities to achieve increased cleanliness, the MoHUA launched the Star-Rating Protocol of Garbage-Free Cities in 2018. The rating protocol is an outcome-based tool, not a process-based one.
    • Swachhata Hi Sewa Campaign
      • It aims to ensure cleanliness through the various stakeholders in the “Jan Andolan” (National Movement).
        • Sewa Diwas: A nationwide shramdaan (volunteering for cleanliness service) by stakeholders
        • Samagra Swachhata: Shramdaan by citizens at large, municipal bodies, SBM ambassadors and corporates
        • Sarvatra Swachhata: Massive cleanliness drives at iconic spots
    • Compost Banao, Compost Apnao Campaign
      • The aim is to encourage people to convert their kitchen waste into compost for use as fertiliser and to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites. This campaign is an attempt to encourage citizens to contribute towards making their city clean.

    Way forward/ Suggestions

    • Infrastructure: The government should provide capital investments to build or upgrade waste sorting and treatment facilities, close dumps, construct or refurbish landfills, and provide bins, dumpsters, trucks, and transfer stations.
    • Legal structures and institutions: Projects advise on sound policy measures and coordinated institutions for the municipal waste management sector.
    • Financial sustainability: Through the design of taxes and fee structures, and long-term planning, projects help governments improve waste cost containment and recovery.
    • Citizen engagement: Behaviour change and public participation is key to a functional waste system.
    • Social inclusion: Resource recovery in most developing countries relies heavily on informal workers, who collect, sort, and recycle 15%–20% of generated waste.
    • Climate change and the environment: Projects should be made in such a way that they support greenhouse gas mitigation through food loss and waste reduction, organic waste diversion, and the adoption of treatment and disposal technologies that capture biogas and landfill gas.
    • Health and safety: Aim should be to improve public health and livelihoods by reducing open burning, mitigating pest and disease vector spreading, and preventing crime and violence.

    Source: DTE