Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) in India: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator

Rapid industrialization and uncontrolled population growth predominantly contributes to huge quantities of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation in India. The sources of MSW generation are: Residential sources such as households, Industrial sources such as manufacturing and chemical plants, Commercial sources such as shops, hotels, restaurants, offices, Institutional sources such as schools, hospitals, Construction sources such as road sites, building sites, Municipal services such as landscaping, street cleaning, waste water treatment plants, Agriculture such as orchids, crops, dairies, poultry and pigs farms etc. MSW is a composite refuse consisting of various materials with varying properties and changes from country to country and alters significantly with time. The composition of MSW in India is 9% plastic, 11% metals, glass & rags, 27% inerts, 8% paper products and 45% biodegradable organic material. Generally, rag pickers collect the recyclables (plastics, paper, metals and glass) from the MSW and the left out waste is mostly organic waste, which is retained at the site for land filling. MSW management (MSWM) is a critical element to achieve sustainable socio economic development. MSWM practices are not uniform among countries (developed and developing nations); regions (urban and rural area), and sectors (residential and industrial).Waste management is all the activities and actions (waste generation, transportation, treatment, and disposal) required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal in order to reduce adverse effects of waste on health, the environment or aesthetics. The  waste management hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reducereuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization. The aim of the waste management hierarchy is to draw the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste. Therefore, it is advisable that knowledge on waste prevention and disposal is of utmost importance and the respective governments, policy makers must incorporate training and educational programmes as a part of waste management plan for public awareness. 

Author: Dr. A. Gangagni Rao, Senior Principal Scientist, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Group, Environmental Engineering & Fossil Fuels (EEFF) Department CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad.

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