Solid Waste Management in India-An Overview

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The collapse of a wall of garbage in east Delhi’s Ghazipur area is a stark reminder that solid waste management rules are perfectly being ignored which can lead to deadly consequences.

What is waste?

  • Waste is defined as any material that is not useful and does not represent any economic value to its owner, the owner being the waste generator.

What is Solid Waste?

  • Depending on the physical state of waste, wastes are categorized into solid, liquid and gaseous.
  • Solid Wastes are categorized into municipal wastes, hazardous wastes, medical wastes and radioactive wastes.

What is Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)?

It is defined as any waste generated by household, commercial and/or institutional activities and is not hazardous.

Impact of Waste Dumping

Environmental impact

  • Release of methane from decomposition of biodegradable waste under anaerobic conditions which can cause fires and explosions. It is also a major contributor to global warming.
  • Problem of odour especially during summers
  • Migration of leachates to receiving water

Health Impact:

  • Uncontrolled burning of waste releases fine particles which are a major cause of respiratory disease and cause smog.
  • Dumping sites provide breeding sites for mosquitoes thus increasing the risk of diseases such as malaria, dengue

What is Solid Waste Management?

Solid Waste Management is a term that is used to refer to the process of collecting and treating solid wastes. It also includes solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash.



Solid Waste management System in India


R.P Singh, 2014 “Management of urban solid waste: Vermicomposting a sustainable option”

Key Waste Management Legislations in India

  • The MoEF issued MSW (Management and Handling) Rules 2000 to ensure proper waste management in India.
  • Municipal authorities are responsible for implementing these rules and developing infrastructure for collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of Municipal solid waste
  • The Solid waste Management Rules were revised in 2016.

What are the key features of Revised Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016?

  • The Rules are applicable beyond Municipal areas and extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, Port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.
  • The source segregation of waste has been mandated to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle.
  • Responsibilities of Generators have been introduced to segregate waste in to three streams:
  1. Wet (Biodegradable),
  2. Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and
  3. Domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.)
  • Segregated wastes should be handed over to authorized rag-pickers or waste collectors or local bodies.
  • Integration of waste pickers/ rag pickers and waste dealers in the formal system. This is to be done by State Governments, and Self Help Group, or any other group to be formed.
  • Generator will have to pay User Fee’ to waste collector and for ‘Spot Fine’ for Littering and Non-segregation.

What are the problems associated Solid Waste Management System in India?

  1. The increasing solid waste quantities strain the Solid Waste Management System
  2. Inappropriate technology
  3. Absence of stakeholders at local body level- As a result recoverable resources embedded in discarded materials are lost due to dumping
  4. Inadequate human resource
  5. Lack of funds
  6. Lack of an integrated system which leads to low efficiency
  7. Apathy on the part of Management and common people

What are the changes required to improve waste management in India?

  1. Behaviour modification among citizens and institutions.
  2. Municipal bodies should have an integrated system to transport and process what has been segregated at source.
  3. Periodic assessments of the preparedness of urban local bodies to ensure proper management of wastes
  4. Political Capital is needed to make required bye-laws and enforce them
  5. Improved technology to ensure better solid waste management
  6. Large Human Capital is required to follow through on all aspects from planning to implementation.
  7. Funds to support planning, research, and implementation
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