Urban Waste Management

Technologies are advancing, life is upgrading, cities are expanding and so is the burden on environment. Conversion of cities into metropolitan tough leads to socio-economic development but it also leads to complex city management problems. Major one is solid waste management whose heaps in the dumping ground are reaching to the mountainous heights. 60% countries reported solid waste management as the major concern for their development policies. The problem is not the waste management but our lack of interest and awareness.

According to recent survey by UN centre for Human Settlement only 25 to 55% waste us generally collected by Municipal corporations. Annual death toll due to disease related to nearby waste segregation is around 5 million. All these depressing stats are due to our feeling that environment cleaning is a burden to us. In reality solid waste is not a burden. It is an opportunity to develop our self socially and economically. We just need to be slightly more aware about the issue.

Waste management is related to various dimensions of our society and needs all over involvement. Social dimension of this problem is related to the waste minimization and involves behaviour changes and awareness rising. Waste recycling and decomposing add administrative and technological dimension which require the support of community, private sector and innovative technology. Only a little insight into the problem can lead to effective solutions. Recent study indicates around 99% effective waste management by N. America and Australia. Compared to that Asia is the poorest one where 60 to 65% waste is openly dumped.

Waste management in N. America and Australia mainly involves landfill and recycling methods. Landfill method incorporates burial of solid waste into the ground surface to raise its level or to fill the pits and cracks in the ground surface. With the modern compaction methods for waste, the problem of vermin and bacterial decomposition can be avoided. In India as we need more infrastructure for development solid waste can be a good-filling material for roads and high way construction. Even the required pre-processing will lead to employment generation by small plant setups. A common by product of the landfill is gas which is a mixture of Methane and carbon dioxide. This gas is combustible and can be harnessed from the pores. Biological reprocessing includes bacterial decomposition of biodegradable waste. The manure prepared through this method is quite good for farming purpose and even cheaper too. Methane produced during this process can be used for electricity generation. Paper, PVC and plastic recycling is known even to the kids these days. Along with these incineration methods can also be used. But they should be accomplished by proper thermal treatment plants. Implementation of these solid waste disposal methods will help a lot to support our employment and energy needs.

These solutions basically go into the account of technological and administrative domains. Still the social awareness is a major hurdle. Social dimension to the issue is mainly dependent on individual awareness. A whole culture of waste management is to be put in place. But administration is always a major contributor to one’s culture.

Slight administrative changes can lead to better social awareness. Like food processing and brewage companies should be encouraged to recollect their empty bags , bottles, and even cans on slight discount or exchange scheme. This will provide low production cost and along with that it can be a good marketing scheme as well. Food vendors and shops can be given special credits by Municipal Corporation if they use recyclable glass and plates. Challans, bills, and all sort of legal paper can be made of agricultural waste. Residential societies or even the individuals can be given community tax redemption if they reduce their solid waste.

Thus slight awareness and caution can lead to waste becoming wealth, refuse becoming reuse and trash becoming cash. Who says that waste management is a burden? It is an opportunity for development.

Ambuj Jain

[Image courtesy: http://people.uleth.ca/~kristy.burke/Waste_Web_files/image005.jpg]