India stands third in the production of energy across the globe with China topping first, followed by the U.S. India has numerous Thermal power plants, Nuclear power plants, Wind-energy power plants, Hydroelectric power plants and Solar power plants. India does an exemplary job in the production of energy, but on the other hand, waste production is also at it’s best. Annually, the urban area of India generates about 62 tonnes of waste. At this rate, the production of trash might reach 165 million tonnes by 2030. Forty-three million tonnes of municipal solid waste is collected annually, out of which only 11.9 million tonnes are dealt with, whereas the remaining 31 million tonnes are thrown away in landfill sites. On top of this, there are places where people never pick up the garbage, which poisons the land, air and water, thereby polluting our already polluted country.
Drawbacks of prevailing waste disposal method:
India has 28 states and nine union territories. And India has a total population of one billion, three hundred eighty million, four thousand, three hundred eighty-five people (1,380,004,385), which indeed leads to a lot of waste production. Landfill sites produce landfill gases (LFG) which release methane which is 28 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). They also cough up smog which worsens health conditions such as asthma. Landfill gases pose a grave threat to human’s health as well as the environment. Studies have shown that these gases are responsible for heart and lung diseases in humans. When the wastes are subject to biological and physiochemical transformation, they form a toxic soup called the leachate. The leachate causes land and groundwater pollution due to its high toxicity.
The bright side of Waste-to-Energy conversion:
Now, think about converting this waste into energy. It might sound disgusting but look at the bright side. We can reduce the amount of overflowing dumpsters, reduce greenhouse gases, and have a clean environment. Some countries like America use AI robots that are developed specifically for the disposal of trash.
Considering the cost requirements is indeed necessary. If India adopted waste-to-energy, it might produce energy up to a whopping 5,600 Mw, which is enough to supply the entire region of Delhi with electricity. This process is more safe and economical than coal power plants and thermal power plants. If India could invest in this project of converting waste to energy and setting up waste-to-energy plants, it would pave the way towards a better tomorrow. Though the process of converting waste-to-energy is quite expensive, it would be a risk worth to take.
Waste-to-Energy conversion process:
Waste to energy conversion is easy to understand. The regeneration of waste into power is of two types, namely: Thermochemical process and Biochemical process. The thermochemical process consists of incineration, gasification and pyrolysis. Whereas, the biochemical process consists of fermentation and anaerobic digestion. Incineration is the process of burning waste to boil water. These boil water coerce steam generators which in turn produces heat and electricity used in homes, institutions, industries and businesses. The major drawback of incinerators is the discharge of toxic gases. In the 1980s, these gases degraded the environment by turning rain into acid rain. But the modern incinerators fuse primary and secondary burn chambers and controlled burners to minimize the emissions of toxic gases. Therefore, eradicating the need for electrostatic precipitators and lime scrubbers. This process produces electricity. Gasification is the process of transforming carbon-based material such as municipal solid waste (MSW) or biomass into energy without actually burning it. This process combines these carbon-based materials using small amounts of air and breaks them into simple molecules like a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Gasification produces gas for fuels. Pyrolysis converts municipal solid wastes, scrap tires, agricultural residues, non-recyclable materials into clean energy. It is an effective method to convert urban wastes into products that can produce heat, electricity, chemicals and heavy oil. Anaerobic digestion is applicable for only organic wastes. In this process, the microorganisms break down the organic materials in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas and fuels. So basically the conversion of waste into energy is smart and also an efficient way to reduce overflowing trash. It’s a win-win process, where we are turning our disadvantage into an advantage in an environmentally friendly process.
Benefits of Waste-to-Energy:
So, the waste generated energy is a safe and technologically advanced means of disposing of waste, reducing greenhouse gases, recycling metal and generating clean air. This process helps to mitigate climate change, reduce the emission of methane gas, recycle metals, reduce greenhouse gas emitted from coal and natural gas plants, and it is a reliable source of baseload power. It generates power 24/7, meaning fewer power cuts. I believe that this waste-to-energy process can be the ultimate answer to India’s waste management problems as well as environmental pollution.
When there are so many disadvantages in the current way of storing wastes, why not look for an alternative? An alternative with loads of benefits?. Indeed, waste-to-energy is quite pricy for a developing country like India. But I believe that investing in this project would lower so many harmful scenarios. It will protect people’s health as well as the environment. It is a risk worth to take.