India and The World’s Response To Waste Management

Waste being dumped in the Perungudi Dumpyard
children in the Slums sitting amidst a pool of toxic garbage

In India, Over 377 million  people people living in 7,935 towns and cities generate 62 million tonnes worth of solid waste per annum.  Out of this, only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 million tonnes  is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites. Municipal authorities in the country provide Solid waste Management as a basic essential service to keep urban centers clean. However almost all people including the authorities deposit solid waste waste at an unsupervised dumpyard, within or outside the city, with little or no care. Experts believe that India is following a flawed system of waste management.

The key to proper waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste and see to it that it goes through proper streams of recycling and management. The final residue should then be deposited scientifically in sanitary landfills.” Sanitary landfills are the ultimate means of disposal for unutilised municipal solid waste from waste processing facilities and other types of inorganic waste that cannot be reused or recycled. Major limitation of this method is the costly transportation of MSW to far away landfill sites”. Says Samar Lahiri in his report on India’s challenges in waste management.

According to the Government Of India, To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014. The campaign was officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi  by Prime Minister. It is India’s largest cleanliness drive to date with three million government employees and students from all parts of India participating in 4,043 cities,towns and rural areas.


Segregation in Kerala’s Alapuzha is a stellar example of pro-active waste management

In Kerala’s Alappuzha segregation happens differently. Here the municipality does not collect waste because it has no place to take it to for disposal. The city’s only landfill has been sealed by villagers who live in its vicinity. This withdrawal of the municipality from waste management has meant that the people have to manage their waste, or be drowned in it. They segregate and compost what they can. The compost is used for growing vegetables and plants in their homesteads. The problem is how to handle all the non-biodegradable waste—paper, plastic, aluminum tins, etc. This is where the government has stepped in. It promotes collection through the already well-organised informal waste-recycling sector. The municipality has ended up saving a huge capital cost it would have otherwise incurred for collection and transportation.


  On a global level, most developing countries often become a dumping ground for rich nations. In retaliation to this, Malaysia will send back some 3,000 metric tons (3,300 tons) of non-recyclable plastic waste to countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia in a move to avoid becoming a dumping ground for wealthy countries. Environment Minister  of Malaysia Yeo Bee Yin admitted that  Malaysia and many developing countries have become new targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year.