Round Table - Expert Group on Environment: Solid waste management |
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Round Table - Expert Group on Environment: Solid waste management
Dr KK Aggarwal,  13 January 2021
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With input from Dr Monica Vasudev

Round Table - Expert Group on Environment Zoom Meeting on “Solid waste management issues in cities - technological solutions for centralised and decentralised waste management"

10th January, 2020; 12 noon-1pm

Participants: Dr KK Aggarwal, Dr Anil Kumar, Mr Dipankar Saha, Dr SK Tyagi, Dr UK Priyadarshi, Mr Pradeep Khandelwal, Mr Neeraj Tyagi, Dr Suresh Mittal, Dr Rahul Sengar, Ms Ira Gupta, Dr S Sharma

The meeting was chaired by Mr SK Tyagi

Key points from the discussion

  • There are several challenges and issues of concern in management of solid waste.
  • Solid waste is the major cause of air, water and land pollution.
  • According to 2016 data, cities all over the world generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste; this waste generation is expected to increase to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050.
  • India is the third largest producer of municipal solid waste after China and US.
  • According to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, as of January 2020, 147,613 metric tonnes of solid waste is generated per day in India.
  • A report published in 2014 by Task Force of the Planning Commission suggested that urban India will generate 2,76,342 tonnes per day of waste by 2021 and 11,95,000 tonnes per day by 2050.
  • Transport is a challenge in the urban areas because of the huge amounts of solid waste produced; financial constraints and political will are other challenges.
  • Segregation of waste at source in coded bins (blue for dry waste, green for wet waste) is mandatory in the 2016 solid waste management rules.
  • About 52% of biodegradable waste can be managed in decentralized manner, if it is properly segregated.
  • Solid waste is a mixed type of waste and includes domestic waste, commercial waste, institutional waste and sometimes biomedical waste (although this is to be managed separately as per biomedical waste management rules 2016, amended in 2018, 2019 and July 2020).
  • More than 60% of solid waste can be minimized by proper segregation, collection and disposal. Paper and paper-related products constitute 38% of solid waste (can be recycled); yard waste constitutes 13-14%, food waste 10-11% (reduced by composting), plastic waste (can be recycled), metals 8% (can be recycled), glass and ceramics 6% (can be recycled) and wood 5% (can be reused).
  • Composting, manuring, gasification, pyrolysis and waste-to-energy are well-established technologies. In India, the focus should be on gasification and waste to energy.
  • Landfill should be arranged in a scientific manner with provisions of proper collection of leachate along with other layers, to prevent contamination of ground water.
  • There is lack of awareness about the solid waste management rules. These rules have fixed duties of the waste generator, local bodies and regulatory authorities.
  • Individual waste generators are required to segregate waste at their level, which is to be collected by the local bodies for processing.
  • Bulk waste generators and industrial waste generators are required to segregate waste at their level and process it. This is almost negligible today.
  • Dry waste is of two types - combustible and recyclable. Wet waste includes food, fruits, vegetables; these can be recycled by home/community composting or bio mechanisation; if this is not possible then centralised management can be done: Composting or biomechanisation for wet waste; dry waste can be recycled or waste-to-energy and inert waste (dust,construction and demolition debris (recyclable products)).
  • Waste has to be minimized. Everybody should adopt the principles of reduce, recycle and reuse.
  • Delhi has 50 decentralized plants; there are 3 waste-to-energy plants and 2 more will be started; there are 4 construction demolition plants working and 2 more will start.
  • Solid waste is generated by us and this problem has to be solved by us.
  • Until there is a participatory approach, solid waste management would not be successful.
  • Citizens have to cooperate so that municipal bodies can manage it.
  • Behavioral change is a must for sustainable waste management.
  • Segregation at source is the best solution. Once the waste is segregated, it becomes manageable.
  • There is a need for simple cost-effective methods on how to reuse waste and recycle waste products.
  • RWAs have an important role in solid waste management.
  • All persons aged 50 years and above should register themselves for the vaccine and take vaccine at the earliest.
  • Neither of the two approved vaccines has live virus and so will not cause any disease due to the virus.


Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA

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