Question: As Indian cities grapple with rising waste production, sustainable management of Solid waste becomes utmostimportant. Comment.
Answer: Indian cities are growing at an overwhelming rate. This has also translated in higher amount of solid waste generated. The current capacity of cities cannot dispose off daily waste and requires alternative strategy to manage waste problem.
Issues in solid waste management
- Lack of land availability
Cities are growing beyond limits and the area earmarked for developing dump yards and waste segregation units are running out of space. If cities grow at current rate and waste lands reduce then in future problems are bound to arise.
The dump yards or waste lands are not a sustainable solution as they increase pollution in the area. The chemicals released from solid waste can pollute soil of the area. It can penetrate ground water and also release fumes into the atmosphere, leading to pollution.
- Lack of scientific acumen
The people associated with waste disposal are rudimentary in their knowledge about sustainable management of waste. This has translated into unscientific disposal of waste that can be deadly in future. Training for municipal workers is necessary.
Measures of sustainable waste management
- Biological degradation
To reduce the already dumped waste, eco-friendly breakdown is necessary. Some biological ingredients such as algae, bacteria and plants can separate harmful chemicals from the waste. In addition, certain worms can breakdown plastic waste also.
Ex: Phytoremediation, bioremediation etc.
Hard plastics, electronics, and related polymers can be converted to another form to be used again. This will reduce the amount of new plastics produced and also cost effective. Similarly, biological waste can be converted into organic fertilizers.
- Waste to energy plants
New techniques have been invented that can convert waste into bio energy. These are gaining traction in recent years.
- Polycrack technology
Newly developed technology that can convert solid municipal waste into energy at comparably lower temperatures. It can also work with wet waste and segregation is not needed.
Organic waste mainly from fields, wood, and other related sources can be used to convert into carbon fuel similar to coal. Burning these waste in absence of oxygen will produce carbon pellets that can substitute for lower grade coal.
- Ethanol plants
Organic waste such as fruits, vegetables, crop residue, unpalatable products can be treated to generate alternative fuel such as ethanol. These fuel can be blended with petrol, diesel or used independently. They also produce low level of pollution.