The India we see today has gone through a lot of evolution and reformation. When we ponder back to the India that we had in the 18th century we see nothing that exhibits development. But now things have changed in a lot of ways. In this 21st century, there is a lot of achievements that India has. We have excelled in every fields like IT, Education, Medical, Entertainment, Tourism etc. We have went through our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, India never forgets to earn back the respect. If there’s one field in which India hasn’t manifested its best, it would be the disposal of waste. Waste disposal has always been the biggest challenge India has ever faced. Tackling waste out of the streets, houses and finding a better way to dispose it, is an unfinished quest. This quest would have been a lot more easier, if every single human being in India had the moral aspect in them. If we had the basic sense that the place and surrounding where we live in should be clean and anyone who tries to litter that place should be penalized, we would have already found India in the list of countries that are clean.
We can still achieve this goal, through proper research and planning. We cannot be be spoon-fed how to dispose waste, it requires elements like interest, knowledge, curiosity and moreover patience. When we analyze, an average household produce about 450 grams of waste per person per day, daily household municipal solid waste generation ranges from 170 grams per person in small towns to 620 grams per person in large cities. Urban India generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually, and it has been predicted that this will reach 165 million tonnes in 2030. If this trend continues we’ll never make anywhere near to developed country. We always tend to remain in our own small world which mostly revolves around social media websites on our phone to cricket channels on our television and fail to look after the world we dwell in. Zero waste is like the horizon whose ends we’ve not been able to figure out, but never lost hope. If these tonnes of waste are removed from our country, we would have better living conditions and less diseases.
There are different types of waste produced on an average day by human beings. In order to properly manage the waste, it has to be segregated. This process of segregation helps us to recycle waste and leads to less waste going to the landfills. Therefore, segregation is a key step in waste management. Waste classification occurs on the basis of their biological, chemical and physical properties also on the basis of nature. These namely include: dry waste, wet waste, sanitary waste, hazardous household waste, e-waste. Dry waste is non-biodegradable waste and is divided into recyclable and non-recyclable waste. Items like used paper towels, hazardous chemical or food containers, foam materials, and dishware are some examples of dry waste that cannot be recycled or reused. Dry recyclable waste includes pet bottles, plastic carry bags, newspapers, glass bottles, shoes, plastic cutlery, tires, cardboard, and so on. Wet waste also known as kitchen waste and it comprises of items like fruit peels, leftovers, vegetable skins, uncooked food, coffee or tea powder, and garden waste like leaves and twigs. Sanitary waste consists of diapers, synthetic sanitary napkins, hygiene-related products, condoms, tampons, soiled napkins are classified as sanitary waste. Medical waste consists of linens, bedding, items contaminated with blood or body fluids, soiled plaster casts and other types of dressing. Medical and sanitary waste has to be incinerated, microwaved or autoclaved to avoid the spread of diseases. Items that are corrosive, flammable, explosive or poisonous are considered Household Hazardous Waste(HHW). It must not be put in garbage or poured down the drain, toilet or sewer. E-waste or electronic waste includes all sorts of electronic goods and its amount is increasing day by day.
Waste created by an individual should be properly disposed. It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to take care of the waste we generate. It could be just a banana peel or chocolate wrapper but throwing it in the bin is more respectful than tossing it to the street. Dumping waste somewhere convenient for an individual is not a healthy method. It can be done by a variety of ethical ways. These are the following methods practiced by citizens of India: Landfill, Incineration, Waste compaction, Bio gas Plants, Composting, Vermicomposting. Landfill is a method of waste management in which after proper segregation of waste, the non-recyclable waste is collected by waste pickers and brought to a location designated for disposal of waste. This is later taken for treatment. However, in India, 43 million tonnes of municipal solid waste is collected annually, out of which 31 million is dumped in landfill sites and just 11.9 million is treated. Another method is incineration which involves treatment of waste through controlled burning. Here wastes like municipal solid waste, hazardous waste and medical waste are treated. This treatment is often used in the production of electricity as it reduces the mass of waste up to 96 percent. Since, incineration involves combustion it is harmful for the environment and increases air pollution. Next in list is waste compaction. It is the process of compaction of waste and reducing it in size. The waste materials are segregated and materials like metal cans and plastic bottles are compressed into blocks by hydraulic compactors or by crushing or grinding and sent for recycling. This method consumes less space and makes it easier for transportation. The biogas plant involves the exploitation of biomass which leads to the production of biogas. The substrate used is kitchen waste or manure and the leftover received after this process can be used as fertilizer. The biogas produced is not efficient enough to use on large scale and also contain impurities. There are also chances of biogas being unstable and hazardous. Composting is the process of converting decayed inorganic substances into fertilizer. There are three types of composting; aerobic, anaerobic and vermicomposting. Aerobic involves the decomposition of waste in the presence of air and anaerobic is in the absence of air. Vermicomposting is the decomposition of waste materials with the help of worms. The method of composting require large space and releases unpleasant odours as well as this treatment is biased by climatic conditions. Recently, India has started organizations like Swachh Bharat Mission envisioned in cleaning India and has been quite successful.
India has found many ways to cremate its waste, but the amount of people who follows these and properly dispose the waste are very few. They find it very convenient to throw the waste to the curb where no one notices and everyone else follows the lead. Slowly, the entire town throws their waste and would totally endanger the lives of the families in the surrounding area. The other trend that citizens follow is throwing waste to the neighbour’s backyard. Not just solid waste like kitchen waste and plastic, I’ve personally witnessed a lot of citizens urinating in public areas especially men and no one questions them or never get penalized for their act. That is indeed a type of waste no one talks about, but stinks the entire place. There have been times when I’ve almost puked while going for tuition in the early morning. It has to stop and we need to take care of the land that we are blessed with. Let’s not take it for granted. There is strikes and movements for each and everything in India but never for waste management. Tonnes of waste are being loaded to many landfills each minute and less than half is being treated properly. We are slowly turning the lands in India to poison. We need to stop this trend before its too late. Government should take initiative to spread the information to the citizens and educate them about the various options we have in disposing waste. Mere clubs and organization in the name of cleaning India isn’t helpful. We need more action and less preaching. Moreover, people who fail to follow these methods and continue to degrade the land must be penalized. Landfills across India are overloaded and it is estimated that if waste generation is not reduced, then by 2030 the waste generation is likely increase to 165 million tonnes from 62 million tonnes. Therefore, the 3 R’s-Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
“We are just tenants on this world. We have just been given a new lease, and a warning from the landlord.’’ Arthur C. Clarke
We need to protect the land that was gifted to us and pass it on to the posterity as clean as we had it. We should not jeopardize the life of the future generation. Each and everyone of us should pledge to be responsible for the waste we generate and dispose it in an authentic way.