Waste Management In India – A practical perspective

                  World’s second largest country in terms of population; that’s our India. If we take the statistical approach, in less than 20 years we will be taking over China to occupy the spot of world’s most populated country. A country of 1.34 billion people with a total GDP of 2.654 trillion USD and growing. We are on a revolutionary road to development and multi-faceted growth. We are almost there, reaching out to a dream that was started 71 years ago. But in reality, are we really there?

We have got a lot to do and we are doing a lot now. Be it the government, be it the people we are all busy doing something or the other aimed towards for a better future for ourselves and the coming generations. With all this surge of activities we are failing to see an imminent problem that is being slowly developed in our very own backyards. Or it might be the case we are having an understanding of the problem and not considering it serious enough. Yes! The problem of waste management in India. We have grown so used to seeing waste dumped in different corners of our streets that we are not bothered by it any. Well, not anymore!

The traditional waste management system just had a single solution for all problems, landfills. Be it any kind of waste, organic or inorganic, the method was to collect it and dump it somewhere. Because of different reasons that ranges from serious mismanagement to malignant corruption landfill sites that were supposed to be shut down on as early as 2002 still continuous to function, resulting in exorbitantly high piles of garbage accumulating in these so-called dump sites. The problem is more severe in the urban areas than rural areas, where land availability is a tight concern and population distribution is too dense to manage effectively in terms of garbage collection and disposal. India's 377 million urban population is generating 62 million tonnes of waste every year, and if the growing urban population coupled with the nation's burgeoning economy, purchasing power and consumption patterns are factored in, the total urban waste in India is likely to rise to 165 million tonnes by 2031, according to a government task force report on waste to energy published in 2014. All this sums up to be a problem of epic proportions and will be affect our country if not dealt with scientifically soon enough.

A shift in attitude is seen from the governmental side with advent of movements like Swachh Bharat Mission. Swachh Bharat mission has succeeded in generating some sort of public awareness regarding the need for cleanliness in India which is a breakthrough considering how the issue has been dealt with in the past. The current working philosophy of our government is to promote the idea of wealth from waste or the waste-to-wealth program. The idea is to have plants and sites that consumes waste materials as raw materials and generate electricity from it. Delhi MSW Solutions in Bawana Industrial Area is an example of energy from waste model where the government promises to buy back the electricity thus generated. The waste products that are not used up directly by the plant itself will be send to the next tier of the process, which is a waste-to-compost conversion.

In theory both these methods of waste to wealth approach seems very appalling. But the practical limitations and workability issues that comes with these models nullifies the kind of effect we are expecting out of these solutions. At first there is the issue of imparting the system of segregation at source to local families and households. It’s a challenge to get all these people to segregate the waste they produce. Even if they segregate the collecting agents would just again mix the entire garbage again before reaching the processing plant. Added to this is the cost of electricity produced in this manner. In reality the profit for such plants comes from garbage collection and transport which can be called as a tipping fees. So, when the plants focuses on generating profit there is always the chance of a them increasing the tipping fees to a point that waste collection fees becomes same as that of or overtakes the cost needed to create the waste in the first place. Waste-to-energy can be a wealth creator, and India has the potential to generate from waste 500 MW of power now and 1,075 MW by 2031, according to an estimate by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. But the pressing challenge is the lack of investment in the field which can be attributed to slow rate of returns from the investments made. The challenge with waste to compost model is it can create health hazard if there are too many compost plants in the same locality. Also, it further has the question of market requirement of compost at present. Simply generating too many compost and not having a place to have it all used is also a different kind of waste generation.

Of the two approaches taken up in the new Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, decentralised waste processing is a powerful way to tackle the problem of waste management in India. A few companies in India stands committed to the vision of a clean and waste free India and are investing in the field of Waste management to ensure a sustainable future for our great country. Solwearth Ecotech is one such company working for this cause. Solwearth has succeeded in realizing a product, a food convertor that works in line with the MSWM rules approach of decentralised waste management. The thing that makes Solwearth’s Food waste Converter SE special is the fact that it doesn’t belong to either of the two categories, waste to energy or waste to compost. What SE food convertor does is to take food/organic waste and convert it into a nutritious soil supplement under 15 hours of run time. Its revolutionary in its outlook and is cost effective and can be implemented in all kinds of neighborhoods or industries that generate food waste. Solwearth products are available Pan-India and are considered to be a technological game changer by various experts in the field.

WasteManagement is a serious concern for a country like India and we as responsible citizens must also commit ourselves to tackle this problem. While waste to wealth moto is the way to go, we must always remember that more than wealth this is a necessity. We shouldn’t expect waste management technologies to pay for itself. We need to invest in waste management for a better tomorrow. Choosing products like Solwearth’s  
(Organic waste converter manufacturers in Indiafood waste converter SE is a way of aligning ourselves with this long-term vision. It’s high time that local habitats, canteens, eateries, hotels, flats etc choose easy waste management solutions like food waste convertor from Solwearth to handle local waste management. A small step like this will lead to wider social changes that will in turn prove fruitful for all of us as a nation.