Tonnes of waste is being generated from multiple sources each day. For a healthy and happy neighbourhood, there must be a balance between the production and the disposal of waste. Unfortunately, the pace at which we are generating the waste is far ahead than the disposal which causes the excessive accumulation of rubbish and industrial wastes. The scientific approach towards waste management and the strategic operations in processing them can reduce the burden of rubbish. Waste management is a science involving a sequence of steps; including disposal, collection, processing, recycling or deposition of the waste materials around us. Waste can be found in a variety of forms including the solids, liquids, synthetic wastes such as plastics, E-waste, biological wastes generated by humans, medical wastes, industrial wastes, nuclear wastes( radiation ) and garbage( household waste). In this article, our core focus is on the general principles of management of various types of wastes especially garbage.
“Waste management or Waste disposal is all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception till its final disposal. This includes , collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling .”
Principles of waste management
Understanding the life-cycle of a product
1. The waste hierarchy is the application of 3Rs -reduce, reuse and recycle while handling wastes. The 3R-strategy helps to extract the maximum practical benefits from products as well as to reduce the amount of end waste. According to the waste management hierarchy, the waste must be reduced to the minimum. If the waste exits despite the reduction, then the next approaches are the reusing and recycling however, recycling may not be possible in all the cases.
2. Understanding the life of a product is the knowledge about how the product cycle begins and ends. It begins from design, then moves to the phases of manufacture, distribution, and then primary use which finally leads to waste. Here starts the 3Rs principle again. Product life-cycle analysis allows optimizing the use of the world's limited resources by avoiding the unnecessary generation of waste.
3. Resource efficiency is a clear perception and understanding of the fact that the world has more waste than production. By wisely using the available resources, we can avoid the exhaustion of the natural resources alongside the reduction of the excess of wastes.
4. The polluter-pays principle is meant to penalizethe person or firm involving in excess of waste production and poor management of the same.
Waste management in India
India is witnessing a drastic rise in the domestic and industrial wastes each year. The magnitude of the problem is increasing at the rate of y 1.3% per annum. As the urban population is on the rise, urban areas produce around 5% excess than every preceding year. As per the 2018 statistics, India has generated around 42 million tons of municipal solid wastes. Per capita generation of waste range from a minimum of 200 grams to 600 grams and the average waste generation rate is 0.4 kg per capita per day in 1,00000 plus towns. Currently, the waste collection efficiency range between 50% to 90% of the total solid wastes generated. Our urban local bodies spend about Rs.500/- to Rs.1500/- per ton of solid waste management. The total quantity of solid waste generated in the urban area is 1.15 lakh tonne per day( TPD)out of which about 30% – 55% is of biodegradable matter with the inert material about 40% – 45% whereas the recyclable materials stood at 5% to 10%.
Garbage is the waste produced out of domestic activities. The rise in population, industrialization, changes in the lifestyle of people and increased demand for consumer goods generates a huge quantity of wastes. This has resulted in garbage accumulation in many urban areas hence it is the duty of every individual and the agencies to curb the wastes by demonstrating the necessary support.
Most common methods of waste disposal
1. Open dumping: It’s the most unsafe and unhygienic method as wastes dumped on the open yards are dispersed by animals and the rain can eventually cause pollution.
2. Land fillings: Wastes are being drawn from a highlands to a low living area where they are compacted by rolling bulldozers on them. This will allow the waste to be tightly packed in the underground, however, landfilling is suitable only for solid wastes but not the liquids.
3.Composting: This is one of the best options while managing organic wastes. During the process, the wastes are filled into a compost pit, measuring 2m x 1m x 1m. Followed by this, a thin layer of soil is spread above the waste and the organic manure is ready by 3 months.
4. Recycling: It is the most useful and essential method of waste management. Additionally, it suits best for both the biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. Recycling helps to break the larger solid wastes into simpler materials. The broken materials will be reused for a different purpose, for example, used plastic cans are being heated to bring it to the molten state which can be reused after shaping the molten plastic into cans.
5. Reuse: It is the simple and traditional technique of using an item again & again. For example, paper can be reused for making envelopes.
6. Remote processing: This is applicable in radioactive waste management as it can easily spread. This is a bit risky as there is every chance of spread of nuclear toxins even after dumping them in a no man`s land.
7. Incineration or burning: It is used in hospitals and biomedical wastes. The waste is burnt at a very high temperature by using an incinerator.