• Kalabati Majumdar

Why is systematic and regulated waste management in India the need of the hour


Waste management service in India is really a challenging problem due to the enormous amount of solid waste that the country generates. The population explosion in India, coupled with increasing industrialisation and the green revolution, led to a focus on sustainable policies that would address this grave issue. It is expected that acting in an environmentally accountable and responsible manner will help bring about systematic changes in the solid waste management strategy. So, it can be inferred that the development of a systematic and regulated waste management policy in India is the need of the hour to minimise the growing threat of solid waste generation, and restore a healthy balance.

Solid waste management challenges in India

Although in comparison with the developed nations per capita solid waste generation in India is quite low, the inefficiency of dealing with waste segregation at source, transport, treatment, and disposal, makes it a critical environmental issue at present. Managing waste properly is really necessary to maintain environmental hygiene and build sustainable as well as live able cities. Hence, managing waste sustainably requires a well-functioning system that will provide benefits to the economy, society, and the environment.

Sustainable waste management policy not only ends with collecting, sorting, and treating waste but also recycling it to facilitate a steady source of energy and resources. As Indian cities are underway a smart city revolution, a long-term vision must be adopted by the civic bodies to work and rework solid waste management strategy as per the changing lifestyle. As such garbage management in cities requires the waste to be processed and recycled instead of landfilled. In this regard, an integrated solid waste management strategy should be followed to move towards ‘zero-waste production’ and ‘waste prevention’ objectives.

Why private initiative is necessary apart from the government level

Solid waste management at the municipal level is not meeting the expectations set by the government. As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the urban local bodies, responsible for collecting solid waste, are unable to handle the huge quantities of waste generated due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Hence, it can be stated that Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) has emerged as the biggest challenge towards the objective of keeping the environment clean and green. Also, it causes the biggest health concerns as the cities lack proper transport facilities and scientific disposal systems required to tackle such vast quantities of hazardous waste material.

Rapid urbanisation results in imposing an extra burden on the urban local bodies as they lack sufficient funds, resources, infrastructure, and appropriate strategies to handle solid waste management effectively. So, it is a priority for the government to identify the following challenges –

• Segregation of waste

• Door-to-door waste collection

• Waste treatment technologies

• Land resources

• Scientific disposal method

Due to the extra burden on the socioeconomic and environmental aspects, solid waste management in India has emerged as the biggest challenge. It is not only the lack of proper solid waste management practices, but the dire financial position is also responsible for handling this grave problem improperly. The majority of ULBs, except some progressive ones, are heavily dependent on the Central and State Government’s grants which are often inadequate. Therefore, a wide gap exists between the expectation and fulfilment of waste management targets. In this regard, the government should think about decentralisation of the solid waste management system to handle this more effectively.

Decentralisation of the solid waste management system

Only private initiatives can handle India’s solid waste management challenges more efficiently. The decentralised system is not only sustainable but also financially viable to improve the quality of life and working conditions of waste pickers. Due to the menace of huge quantities of solid waste, large industries, hotels, IT companies, and others are looking towards decentralized garbage disposal systems for improving the situation. As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government has taken initiatives to involve various small waste management centers at the private level in managing municipal solid waste more efficiently. Recognized as the Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRC), they are involved in collecting, transporting, and processing solid waste from the locality.

The decentralised organic solid waste initiative promotes a green environment and, at the same time, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and dependency on waste disposal sites. It can also be stated that the government should consider fiscal and financial initiatives for the setting up and operation of ‘Garbage to Garden’ and ‘Garbage to Gas’ decentralised models to engage communities in effective waste management practices. The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 2000 provide legal support to community-based waste management practices. According to this rule, the ULBs should promote and implement waste segregation at the source. Hence, an appropriate system and infrastructure facilities must be set up for governing the scientific collection, transportation, processing, and disposal of SW. It is expected that these initiatives will ultimately encourage innovation and the adoption of decentralised waste recycling solutions.

Importance of systematic and regulated waste management

Systematic and regulated waste management mechanisms or systems should not only manage hazardous and other waste in a scientific and feasible manner, but also create a circular economy to enhance environmental hygiene. Based on this concept, society and the economy will benefit in terms of new business opportunities, new economic growth, and the creation of green jobs. Hence, to create a clean and green society, India should adopt the policy of turning waste into resource-efficient materials for developing a recycling society. In order to pursue the ‘zero waste challenge’, the circular economy should align with green technology to minimise waste and address the negative environmental impacts. It also helps to resolve the issues of bio-medical waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and other hazardous substances. Obviously, to ensure the right balance between society, the economy, and the environment, adequate policies to promote the circular economy and sustainable green technologies are necessary to create avenues for sustainable growth, good health, and green jobs.

Final thoughts – Last but not least

From the above discussion, it is quite clear that solid waste management is really a challenging job in a country like India. The absence of an integrated waste management strategy results in significant environmental and human health problems. As such, a systematic and regulated waste management policy will help to minimize the adverse effects by promoting a ‘zero waste challenge’ and creating a recycling society. The circular economy will boost sustainable growth for the economy and society. As a renowned waste management service in India, Dalmia Polypro helps to redefine plastic waste management by creating more opportunities and promoting a circular economy.

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