Waste Equals Wealth
The sun pours like gold through the leaves. With the Midas’ touch the dark of the green leave is absorbed by the warm rays and turned to the light green color. The veins of the leaf showing almost like the leaf is sunbathing just you. As you lay on the green grass the wetness of the grass holds you in an embrace. The grass knows the body needs water. The tree gives the chilled wind working like a living air-conditioner. White puffs swim through the sky in a disturbuted manner. The blue in the sky is more than just vibrant, you can’t really put it in words but the kind that walks on the surface of your eyes and makes them a different color. The whole scene is almost like you drinking a glass of refreshing lemonade water after being terribly thirsty. The satisfaction in the whole body is how you feel on a continues loop, while you sit under the tree and the grass holds you in its moisturized embrace.
The whole scene above is something that can only be achieved after a five hour journey from the city of Delhi to a hill station crowed with other desperate soles in search of a crisp and clean environment. When we all walk into a store we check a list of things we need not buying the items that are not needed at home. The list that one makes is simply one word each line, no one really writes, for example bread (not in a plastic cover). Most of us (which does include me) are fine with the way the whole industry functions. The questions might be asked by the customers but no one takes action. Taking the example of a packet of chips, the packaging is not only plastic but it has a lining of aluminum. Many people aren’t aware that plastic takes about thousand years to decompose but with the very thin aluminum lining it can take many more years. The question is why we don’t just separate the lining from the plastic, the problem with that is it is almost impossible to do that unless one destroys the whole packet. Like this there a million more examples that can be taken to justify why there is a need of the mission waste to wealth.
Waste to wealth is a term that can be very self explanatory. Waste is a valuable asset and can be used in many different ways to benefit income as well as society. There are three broad categories of waste hazardous waste, bio degradable waste and non bio degradable waste. Bio degradable waste is a category that can be dealt with locally. Having compost pits that allow one to put the bio degradable waste in one place is one of the best ways to dispose this category of waste. Non biodegradable waste is a difficult category because even if it is dealt with locally with proper segregation the problem of the waste ending up in landfills still exists.
Under the category of non biodegradable waste are many more sub categories. There is e-waste, construction waste, bio-medical waste and etc. Each type of waste has a different way of being disposed. There is a constant lack of awareness and a lack of initiative towards this topic. Many industries to cut the cost of disposing their waste in a proper manner simply and carelessly dump the waste in the open. Industrial waste can cause many more harmful side effects to nature and the humans itself but since most of the big companies want the save the cost they skip this part of their production. Industries have produced 9.1 billion tones of plastic since 1950, 7 billion tones is no longer used. Almost 9% got recycled; and 12% got incinerated. There are 5.5 billion tones of plastic waste littered on land, inside landfills and floating on water bodies. As landfills turn into mountains of waste that was supposed to be under the ground the nature and the environment gets infected by those mountains.
There is recyclable waste and non recyclable, these categories are important because the end destination of the waste is determined by if the product can be used in the same form or another form. A glass bottle is a perfect example of recyclable waste. The bottle can be used in the same form in many places, to hold water or to hold followers or even for decorative purposes. The example of the glass bottle is more of a reuse waste example where the product is used in the same form but in another purpose. The chain of waste is simple to understand if a waste can’t be used in any form or for any purpose then it is put into the category of waste that will end up polluting the environment. However if the waste is used in the same form or another form for another purpose it ends up in the category of wealth. An oil bottle made of glass can be used for storing water to drink. This saves the cost of buying another bottle and it saves the cost the environment has to pay when the bottle is thrown into landfills. The central pollution control board stated that in 2014 and 2015, 51.4 tones of solid waste were produced and only 91 percent was collected, 23 percent was treated. About 73 percent was dumped into landfills.
India’s initiative to have an industry to profit from the waste that could give a turnaround of US$ 13.62 billion requires many technologies that can transform a particular waste into something more valuable for the market. Even before the technologies comes the part that each household plays, segregation. All the waste has to be segregated according to its nature. The treatment of the waste will take place according to the category it belongs to. The aim of the process should be to end the whole process with more than 90 percent of the waste going into the market. Each person who consumes is an important part of the whole waste cycle thus to reduce the impact they have to refuse (not use the non biodegradable products), reduce (use less), reuse (use the product in another place), recycle (use the product in another form), recover (whatever properties that can be put to a different use should be used) and then comes treatment or disposal.
Circular economy is the basses of this whole idea of waste to wealth. There are two types of economies one if circular or closed loop economy and linear or one- way economy. In a closed looped economy the product is made, sold, consumed and disposed. This is the system most of the places in India still follow. On the other hand there is the one-way economy, in this economy the whole the product is made, sold, consumed, segregated, treated and disposed. During the segregation process maximum amount of the waste is reused or recycled. During the treatment process the waste is treated and even from this part of the cycle some waste can be reused. The one-way economy helps to reduce the waste that goes into the category of dispose. In this economy the resources are also used in a very small amount. This economy is a more sustainable option and better for the environment.
If a community creates waste of 100 tons each day and say about half of that is wet waste (50 tones), so the waste can be sold after the composting is done and the weight is reduced so roughly the community can earn around 65’000 per day. The other half which is 50 tones will earn them a lot more each day (roughly 2 lakhs). This process will have the community earn a lot from segregating and selling to the right people. The situation explained above is a hypothetical example and a very rough description of how much money can be earned. The cost of waste sold are : for wet waste it is Rs 2-3 /kg , for plastic waste Rs 5-6 /kg , for mixed waste Rs 2-3 /kg and etc (http://swachhbharaturban.gov.in/writereaddata/sbm-newsletter-nov.pdf, page 16).
Putting everything that is technical aside the initiative has to come from the individuals, the people who consume. Instead of making a mindless list of goods to buy make a mindful list of goods to buy. There are very simple steps that a person needs to take towards a future that will not have mountains made of waste. Looking at the use of the product, using less and going local. Most of the time we all are under the impression that the best quality received is from malls and supermarkets. Locally bought products are healthier and less dangerous to the environment. Being mindful is all it takes to make the change to a wealthy waste society.