Landfill sites associated with different cities in India.
Landfill sites associated with different cities in India. Parvathamma . Environmental and health impacts of waste dumping Waste dumps have adverse impacts on the environment and public health . Open dumps release methane from decomposition of biodegradable waste under anaerobic conditions. Methane causes fires and explosions and is a major contributor to global warming .
There are also problems associated with odour and migration of leachates to receiving waters . Discarded tyres at dumps collect water, allowing mosquitoes to breed, increasing the risk of diseases such as malaria, dengue and West Nile fever. Uncontrolled burning of waste at dump sites releases fine particles which are a major cause of respiratory disease and cause smog . Open burning of MSW and tyres emits 22 tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere around Mumbai every year .
The impacts of poor waste management on public health are well documented, with increased incidences of nose and throat infections, breathing difficulties, inflammation, bacterial infections, anaemia, reduced immunity, allergies, asthma and other infections . Engineered landfills in India The UN Environmental Programme defines landfill as the controlled disposal of MSW on land in such a way that contact between waste and the environment is significantly reduced, with waste disposal concentrated in a well-defined area.
Properly managed engineered landfills should replace dumps in India. This would significantly reduce the environmental impact of waste . Waste-to-energy in India The problems associated with improper waste disposal could be significantly mitigated by requiring material recovery. Source separation of inert and high moisture content fractions would maximize the potential for thermal recovery and other treatment options in India.
The waste processed in thermal recovery is residual waste that remains after all commercially viable recyclable materials have been extracted. Waste-to-energy technologies produce energy, recover materials and free land that would otherwise be used for dumping. The composition of residual waste is important for energy recovery and waste composition is changing in India, with the amount of high calorific waste generally increasing .
A significant increase in the use of waste-to-energy technologies has been proposed, but this depends on location, climate, demographics and other socioeconomic factors . The most widely used waste-to-energy technology for residual waste uses combustion to provide combined heat and power . Adopting maximum recycling with waste-to-energy in an integrated waste management system would significantly reduce dumping in India.
Waste-to-energy technologies are available that can process unsegregated low-calorific value waste, and industry is keen to exploit these technologies in India. Several waste-to-energy projects using combustion of un-segregated low-calorific value waste are currently being developed. Alternative thermal treatment processes to combustion include gasification, pyrolysis, production of refuse derived fuel and gas-plasma technology.
Waste-to-energy development in India is based on a build, operate and transfer model. Increased waste-to-energy would reduce disposal to land and generate clean, reliable energy from a renewable fuel source, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and reducing GHG emissions. In addition, generation of energy from waste would have significant social and economic benefits for India. However, the track record of waste-to-energy in India highlights some of the difficulties.
The vast majority of facilities have not worked effectively due to various operational and design problems. For example, the first large-scale MSW incinerator built at Timarpur, New Delhi in had a capacity to process tonnes per day and cost Rs. The plant failed because of poor waste segregation, seasonal variations in waste composition and properties, inappropriate technology selection and operational and maintenance issues .
Despite this experience, waste-to-energy will have a key role in future waste management in India. Barriers to improved waste management in India The current status of SWM in India is poor because the best and most appropriate methods from waste collection to disposal are not being used. There is a lack of training in SWM and the availability of qualified waste management professionals is limited. There is also a lack of accountability in current SWM systems throughout India .
Municipal authorities are responsible for managing MSW in India but have budgets that are insufficient to cover the costs associated with developing proper waste collection, storage, treatment and disposal.
Limited environmental awareness combined with low motivation has inhibited innovation and the adoption of new technologies that could transform waste management in India.
Public attitudes to waste are also a major barrier to improving SWM in India. Changes required to improve waste management in India Core to the vision for waste management in India is the use of wastes as resources with increased value extraction, recycling, recovery and reuse. ULBs need to be responsible for waste management, with the ULB Commissioner and Chairman directly responsible for performance of waste management systems.
Waste management needs to be regarded throughout Indian society as an essential service requiring sustainable financing. The case presented to a ULB for a properly funded system must demonstrate the advantages of sound investment in waste management. A strong and independent authority is needed to regulate waste management if SWM is to improve in India. Without clear regulation and enforcement, improvements will not happen. Strong waste regulations can drive innovation.
The waste management sector needs to include attractive and profitable businesses with clear performance requirements imposed by the ULB, with financial penalties applied when waste management services are not working effectively. Finance for waste management companies and funding for infrastructure must be raised from waste producers through a waste tax.
An average charge of 1 rupee per person per day would generate close to 50 crores annually, and this level of funding would probably be sufficient to provide effective waste management throughout India.
Information on future quantities and characterization of wastes is essential as this determines the appropriateness of different waste management and treatment options. State-level procurement of equipment and vehicles is necessary for primary and secondary collection with effective systems for monitoring collection, transport and disposal. Littering and waste in streets is a major problem in India that has serious impacts on public health.
Nagpur has introduced a system for sweeping roads in which every employee sweeps a fixed road length. Waste management must involve waste segregation at source to allow much more efficient value extraction and recycling. Separating dry inorganic and wet biodegradable waste would have significant benefits and should be the responsibility of the waste producer. The roles and responsibilities to deliver sustainable systems need to be defined, with monitoring and evaluation to monitor progress.
Experiences should be shared between different regions of India and different social groups. There are a number of research institutes, organizations, NGOs and private sector companies working on a holistic approach to SWM, and future waste management in India must involve extensive involvement of the informal sector throughout the system. There is a need to develop training and capacity building at every level.
All Indian school children should understand the importance of waste management, the effects of poor waste management on the environment and public health, and the role and responsibilities of each individual in the waste management system.
This will develop responsible citizens who regard waste as a resource opportunity. Conclusion Population growth and particularly the development of megacities is making SWM in India a major problem. The current situation is that India relies on inadequate waste infrastructure, the informal sector and waste dumping. There are major issues associated with public participation in waste management and there is generally a lack of responsibility towards waste in the community.
There is a need to cultivate community awareness and change the attitude of people towards waste, as this is fundamental to developing proper and sustainable waste management systems. Sustainable and economically viable waste management must ensure maximum resource extraction from waste, combined with safe disposal of residual waste through the development of engineered landfill and waste-to-energy facilities.
India faces challenges related to waste policy, waste technology selection and the availability of appropriately trained people in the waste management sector. Until these fundamental requirements are met, India will continue to suffer from poor waste management and the associated impacts on public health and the environment. Data accessibility No data were generated from the work, and all supporting data were obtained from previously published work available via the references below and from the output of the international seminar on which the paper is based.
Authors' contributions Conceived and designed the study: Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Received September 30, Accepted February 22,
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