Solid Waste & Plastic Waste Management
Population growth and particularly the development of megacities is making solid waste management in India a major problem. Uncontrolled dumping of wastes on outskirts of towns and cities has created overflowing landfills, which are not only impossible to reclaim because of the haphazard manner of dumping, but also have serious environmental implications in terms of groundwater pollution and contribution to global warming. The burning of waste at dump sites releases fine particles which are a major cause of air pollution. In the absence of waste segregation practices, recycling has remained to be an informal sector working on outdated technology, but nevertheless thriving owing to waste material availability and market demand of cheaper recycled products. Paper and plastic recycling has been especially growing due to continuously increasing consumption levels of both the commodities. The current situation is that India relies on inadequate waste infrastructure, the informal sector, and waste dumping. There are major issues associated with public participation in waste management and there is generally a lack of responsibility towards waste in the community.
There is a need to cultivate community awareness and change the attitude of people towards waste, as this is fundamental to developing proper and sustainable waste management systems.
Electronic Waste Management
Waste management, especially when it comes to plastic, has been given much attention over the years in the country, somehow, the issue of e-waste, which is among the most dangerous kinds of waste – for it contains heavy metals and other toxic chemicals — remains insidious.
Even today, when India is among the world’s largest consumers of mobile phones with 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2015, most consumers are still unaware of how to dispose of their e-waste. E-waste is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 30% in the country. Assocham estimated that e-waste generation was 1.8 million metric tonnes (MT) per annum in 2016 and would reach 5.2 million metric tonnes per annum by 2020.
Climate Change & Clean Energy
Climate change impacts will exacerbate the water crisis. The amount of available freshwater is decreasing because of climate change. Climate change has caused receding glaciers, reduced stream and river flow, and shrinking lakes and ponds. Climate change govern the production of agriculture, disrupts supply chains and, in some cases, takes lives. Our generation is the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and percent last generation potentially could help to arrest it.
Water is a finite resource and managing water in days of rapid socio-economic growth and change is challenging. Regardless of improvements in the drinking water system, many other water sources are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants, and over 21 percent of the country’s diseases are water-related. In addition, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2050.
The need of the hour is to provide clean and safe drinking water to the population.
Opportunities & Solutions
We know how to pick up garbage, we know how to dispose of it. We know how to recycle. It’s a matter of building the necessary institutions and systems, ideally before the oceans turn into a thin soup of plastic. The growth of plastic production has far outstripped the ability of waste management to keep up. We’ve done a lot of work making sure plastic does its job, but very little amount of work on what happens to that product at the end of its lifetime. There is a lot industry can do to help solve the problem. Plastics should be designed to be reused, or recycled not dumped.
Most Indians end up selling their e-waste to the informal sector, which poses severe threats to humans. Manufacturers should be involved to create awareness in the country.
We all need to strive towards higher water conservation goals. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also build healthier communities, spur economic innovation and create new jobs.
Effective awareness would be the right step for all stakeholders.