Waste is a natural by-product of the phenomena of life and growth of societies. It is viewed as unwanted or unusable material that has been disposed or discarded after primary use.
Plants shed leaves, animals excrete. Humans in their day to day life create a boundless
heap of waste of countless variety.
Efficient handling of waste is an important factor in the developmental progress of any nation and the health of its people. Effective management of waste is now a national priority as seen through the Swachch Bharat Mission.This seeks to sensitize every citizen, especially the young, and make them a partner in creating a clean nation.
Waste is deeply linked to lifestyle choices. Each time we decide to use the blank side of a printed paper, turn off lights and fans on leaving a room,use water judiciously,take on our plate only as much food as we can eat,decide not to use a plastic bag,we contribute to reduction of waste or resources. In fact, since times immemorial, all societies and cultures have looked for effective management of waste and often, to put it to good use.Used and discarded materials are transformed to beautiful artifacts. Leftovers from food commonly form thebase for fresh dishes. The patched quilt is generally found across cultures. Generation of less waste, reuse of consumables, recycling of waste and recovery of valuable resources from waste are considered as good practices. They help conserve valuable natural resources and energy and also lower environmental damage caused by socio-economic development.Thus waste management is strongly linked with the idea of sustainable development.
• The challenge posed by waste and its impact on environment and health;
• How day-to-day activities generate waste;
• Classification of different types of waste and mechanisms for their disposal;
• Concept of 5R: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,Recover;
• Hazards posed to health and environment and safety measures to be adopted in handling waste;
• Innovative processes that generate products from waste creating wealth;
• The scope of livelihood generation through entrepreneurship.
Waste: Types & Nature
Definition: Wastes are unwanted or unusable objects or materials which are discarded
after primary use, or declared as worthless, defective and of no use. Municipalities require
these to be disposed of by the provisions of national law.
Examples include Municipal Solid waste (MSW) which is household trash/refuse, hazardous
waste, wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes – faeces and urine –
and surface runoff), radioactive waste, e-waste and others.
Hazardous waste is any waste which by reason of characteristics such as physical, chemical, biological, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or in contact with other wastes or substances.
Definition: Biodegradable materials are composed of waste from living organisms and the
actual plant, animal or other organisms when its life ends.
Examples: These include human and animal waste; plant products, wood, paper, food
waste, leaves, grass clippings and other horticulture waste; and remains from death of
living creatures such as animal carcasses.
Creating sustainable wealth
Organic Agriculture: With greater sensitivity to issues related to sustainable development,
agro-ecological farming methods are gaining in popularity. These rely on ecological processes
to sustain the health of soil as well as treating farming as an integrated, holistic, interconnected
process of food production by optimizing the farm in design and closely knit nutrient and
resource recycling. Instead of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, compost, green manure
and bone meal are key ingredient in organic farming and also on non-chemical modes of
pest and disease control, . Consciousness towards healthy lifestyle has seen organic farm
production and trade emerging as an important sector in India as in other parts of the
developing world. According to business chamber ASSOCHAM, current organic food market
was estimated to be about Rs.3350 crore in 2016 and predicted to treble in next four years.
Non Biodegradable Waste
Definition: Non Biodegradable waste includes materials that do not breakdown or decay
naturally, that is, cannot be decomposed by microbes and abiotic elements or dissolved by
natural agents or biological processes
Examples: These include glass, metal, baked pottery, ceramics and plastic items; most
forms of medical waste (Biomedical waste); electronic/ electrical devices (E-waste);
construction and demolition waste (C&D). Most of the inorganic waste is non biodegradable
in the sense that it could take from a few weeks and years to thousands of centuries to
decay. In fact, our understanding of ancient civilizations rests on archeological findings of
non biodegradable artifacts of that era.
Plastics: Consider the commonly used plastic. The plastic boom started after the second
word war. It is ubiquitous and used in carry bags, bottles, other packaging, toys, cellphones,
refrigerators, automobiles, pipes, construction materials, microfibers, et cetera. Consumer
needs have led to newer types of plastic and polyester clothing that is more durable and
lasts even longer. By one estimate, industry has made 9.1 billion tonnes of plastic since
1950. Nearly 7 billion tonnes are no longer used. About 9% got recycled; another 12% was
incinerated. This leaves 5.5 billion tonnes of plastic waste littered on land, inside landfills
and floating on water bodies. Even when shred into smaller pieces, they last for thousand
years. Because plastic is made from polypropylene or polyethylene, toxic chemicals can
seep into land and water.
Animals that eat plastic can strangle on it. In lakes, rivers, oceans,
it can harm fish, seabirds and other marine life that mistake it for prey. It also has potential
for greenhouse gas emissions and trans-boundary migration of organic micro pollutants
(dioxins and furans) and volatile heavy metals.
Non recyclable waste: Those non biodegradable materials which can not be put to use
again are termed as “Non Recyclable Waste”. Traditionally these are disposed off by (i)
transporting to a distant site and dumping them in a landfill; and (ii) incineration or burning.
Environmental concerns have led municipalities to develop better management of these
wastes. Major initiatives have been launched to look at non recyclable waste as a resource
to make energy.
As an example, base liner systems are installed in landfills to prevent
escape of leachate from waste into the environment. Installation of the leachate tank and
methane extraction pipe allows these to be harvested as source of energy. Municipal Solid
Waste Incinerators (MSWI) transform waste into solid ash that can be recycled for various
applications. Energy is extracted from the hot gasses / fumes produced by generating steam
in a boiler. This is used to turn a turbine to produce electricity. Development of flue gas
scrubbing technology for MSWI cleans the toxic fumes before these are released into the
Waste Segregation: The treatment of waste depends upon its nature and decomposition
properties. Hence handling of waste requires segregation at source. A simple practice is to
identify wet and dry waste being generated in the household and discard these in separate
containers. Many households and communities now convert wet kitchen waste into compost,
a product used for enriching soil quality.
According to Central Pollution Control Board Report 2014-15, 51.4 million tonnes of solid
waste was generated in the country. Of this, 91 per cent was collected, and 27 per cent was
treated and remaining 73 per cent disposed of at dump sites. There is a critical need for
developing sustainable wealth generating models for India’s waste. The potential is immense.
It is estimated that India will have a waste management market to the tune of US$ 13.62
billion by 2025. With the concerted efforts of the government, increasing interest and
participation of the industry, academia, not-for-profit organizations, and communities, the
nascent waste management industry in the country is poised for a major turnaround.
Plastic in Municipal Solid Waste
• Toxic Nature
• Stagnation of waste water due to waste plastic causing hygiene problems
• When mixed with solid waste, it reduces the rate of composting of the organic solid waste.
• When waste plastic is mixed with earth, the water flow is affected. .
• Misuse and its dumping in the dustbins and drains.
Bio-fuels: Another important direction in bid for sustainability is use of bio-fuels from biomass
or bio-waste. Biogas production is a clean low carbon technology for conversion of organic
waste into clean renewable biogas and a source of organic fertilizer. Biogas obtained by
anaerobic digestion of cattle dung and other loose and leafy organic matter/ wastes can be
used as energy source for cooking, lighting, refrigeration, electricity generation and transport
Biomass has always been an important source of energy in our country. According to the
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), about 32% of the total primary energy use
in the country is still derived from biomass and more than 70% of the country’s population
depends upon it for its energy needs. MNRE is promoting development of efficient
technologies for its use in various sectors of economy. Biomass materials used for power
generation include bagasse, rice husk, straw, cotton stalk, coconut shell, soya husk, deoiled cakes, coffee waste, jute waste, groundnut shells, saw dust etc.