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Waste Management In India

Waste Management In India


  • According to the Environment Protection Act, 1990, waste is defined as: “any substance which constitutes a scrap material, or an effluent or other unwanted surplus substance arising from application of any process”.

Classification of waste

  • Biodegradable waste: These can be degraded through microbial activity. E.g: food residue, human excreta, etc.
  • Non-Biodegradable waste: Petroleum, plastic, glasses, etc.
  • Bio medical: Needle, syringe, body parts, etc.
  • E-waste: Computer parts, batteries, CFL bulbs, etc.

Sources of Waste

  • Domestic waste: polythene, bottles, food, cotton, etc.
  • Industrial waste:
    • Food processing: Organic wastes, pathogens, etc.
    • Paper: Chlorine, sulphur dioxide, methyl mercaptan, etc.
    • Textile: From boiling and processing of fibre
    • Petroleum: Inorganic sulphur, hydrocarbons, organic acids, etc.
    • Chemical: Phosphorus, fluorine, silica, etc.
    • Metal: Copper, lead, chromium, cadmium.
    • Cement: Particulate matter, dust.
    • Nuclear reactor: Radioactive waste.
  • Agricultural waste: Fertilizer, crop residue, pesticide (like DDT), fumigants.
  • Radioactive waste: X-Ray machines, nuclear plants, laboratories etc.
  • Municipal waste: Waste produced by public offices, parks, shops etc.

Waste Management In India

  • India being one of the fastest developing nations and leader of the new age global scenario took aggressive steps to curb waste and regulate efficient waste management systems.
  • Waste management rules in India are based on the principles of “sustainable development”, “precaution” and “polluter pays”.
  • These principles mandate municipalities and commercial establishments to act in an environmentally accountable and responsible manner—restoring balance, if their actions disrupt it.
  • The increase in waste generation as a by-product of economic development has led to various subordinate legislations for regulating the manner of disposal and dealing with generated waste are made under the umbrella law of Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA).
  • Specific forms of waste are the subject matter of separate rules and require separate compliances, mostly in the nature of authorisations, maintenance of records and adequate disposal mechanisms.

Basically waste management constitutes 3 main processes:

  • Collection of waste
  • Transportation of waste
  • Disposal of waste

Flaws in Waste Management     (Waste Management In India)

  • Lack of segregation of waste at source.
  • Consumers are mostly not part of the Waste Management Chain.
  • Rag pickers are working in the informal sector and lack sufficient knowledge and training in handling the waste.
  • WHO lists lead exposure as one of the top 10 environmental health threats globally. But India lead content found in paint samples exceeding the prescribed limit.
  • With multiple sets of rules and weak capacity for enforcement, it is not surprising that the situation on the ground remains very bleak.
  • E-waste Management Rules 2016 are applicable to e-waste including computers, printers, TV, fluorescent and other mercury-containing lamps, while lead acid batteries from home inverters and cars come under Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules 2001.
  • Some biomedical waste is included in the definition of domestic hazardous waste, but only waste from healthcare establishments is covered under the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016.
  • Improper management of landfills causes emission of methane and help breed mosquitoes and rats which spread many diseases.

Methods for Waste Management

Waste management is a collective activity involving segregation, collection, transportation, re-processing, recycling and disposal of various types of wastes.

  • Incineration:
      • It is controlled high temperature oxidation (burning/thermal treatment) of primarily organic compounds that produce thermal energy, CO2 and water.
      • Advantages: Useful to deal with large quantities of organic hazardous waste and produces electricity.
      • Disadvantages: The installation is expensive (high cost of equipment and skilled operators) and Generates ash and toxic gases (HCL, CO, SO2).
    • Landfill:
      • This method involves burying off the waste in the vacant locations around the cities. The dumping site should be covered with soil to prevent contamination. Suitable trees should be planted to hold the soil (of shallow roots).
      • Advantage of Landfills: If designed carefully they can serve as economical and quite sanitized method for waste dumping.
      • Disadvantage: Mostly unplanned dumping occur in suburbs and slums which causes serious environmental and health hazards. E.g: release of poisonous gases, secretion of toxic liquid, destruction of vegetation.
  • Bioremediation
    • Bioremediation is the use of living organisms, primarily microorganisms, to degrade environ-mental contaminants into less toxic forms. e.g.: Pseudonymous bacterium can decompose synthetic pesticide.
    • Bioremediation techniques are more economical than traditional methods and pollutants can be treated on site, thus reducing exposure risks for personnel.
  • Other Thermal Methods
    • Pyrolysis: In this process the solid is converted in to liquid state and liquid is converted in to gas. These products of treatment can then be used for the production of energy.
    • Gasification: The material to be treated is directly converted in to SynGas (synthetic gas) which has hydrogen and carbon dioxide as its components.

Conclusion    (Waste Management In India)

  • Waste management can be done in two ways: one is through waste reduction, and two through recycling.
  • Consistent waste reduction and recycling activities mean there will be less waste materials to be sent to landfills and incinerators.
  • As such, the emission of greenhouse gas and other forms of pollutant will be reduced by a large percentage.
  • Reusing and recycling of used items will also result in less production of new products.


Environment & Biodiversity

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