Waste Management - Seeker's Thoughts

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Waste Management

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Introduction- Waste is a real problem! - In India, the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste are unscientific in this modern and technical world. Practices like manual scavenging still exist in India. Uncontrolled dumping of wastes in cities and in outskirts of towns has created overflowing landfills. The country is facing massive waste management challenge. Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tons of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tons of the waste are collected, 11.9 Million tons are treated, and 31 million tons is dumped in landfill sites.

Solid Waste Management- Solid Waste Management is one of among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centers clean. However, almost all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dump yard within or outside the city without concern. Experts believe that India is following a flawed system of waste disposal and management.

Causes of Solid Waste
Human and animal activities generate different kinds of waste. These wastes are generally in solid form and may cause pollution of land, water, and air unless treated and disposed of. The main source of solid wastes is domestic, commercial, industrial, municipal, and agriculture wastes.

The composition of a city waste is as follows: -

  1.  Paper, wood, cardboard 53 percent
  2.       Garbage 22 percent
  3.        Ceramics, glass, crockery 10 percent
  4.       Metal 8 percent
  5. Rubber, plastic, discarded textile 7 percent

Environmental Impact
Solid waste impacts on environment directly due to decomposition and rotten material, which causes land and water pollution when the waste products drain down in to the underground water resources. The organic solid waste during decomposition generates obnoxious odors and harmful gases. Stray animals, insects and birds sometimes invade garbage heaps and spread everywhere in air causing unhygienic and unhealthy surroundings.

What measures can be taken?
There should be technological advancement for processing, treatment and disposal of solid waste. Energy-from-waste is a crucial element of solid waste management because it reduces the volume of waste from disposal and it also helps in converting the waste into renewable energy and organic manure.
Installation of waste -to-compost and bio-methanation plants would reduce the landfill sites. Bio-methanation is a solution for processing biodegradable waste which remains underexploited. Several states have already taken measures to curb solid waste pollution.

Around 100 cities are set to be developed smart cities. Civic bodies must redraw long term vision in solid waste management and network their strategies as per changing lifestyle. They should reinvent garbage management in cities so that the processing of waste can be done and the situation of landfill can be avoided. Household and institutions must segregate their waste at source so that it could be managed as a resource. The center aims to do away with landfills sites in 20 major cities. There is no spare land for dumping garbage; the existing ones are in a critical state.
It is reported that almost 80% of the waste at Delhi landfills sites could be recycled provided civic bodies start allowing rag pickers to segregate waste at source and recycle it.
Compose pits should be constructed in every locality to process organic waste. Community participation has direct bearing on efficient waste management. Recovery of e-waste is abysmally low; we need to encourage recycling of e-waste on a very large-scale level so that problem of e-waste disposal is contained.