India generates approximately 0.1 million tonnes of municipal waste everyday. Only 70% of this waste is collected, and 20% is treated. The remaining 50% goes to landfills. Waste management in India is a growing concern with the increasing amount of trash. From an individual perspective, it might not seem that serious, but it is more than what it looks. Beginning from the source of waste to its disposal, the number of loopholes in the process makes it difficult to manage waste.
The beginning of the waste management problem is mishandling done at the source. Usually, people tend to mix the wet and dry waste, making it tedious for the waste-collectors to segregate it further and continue with the recycling process. Also, many times people dump their garbage on the roadsides instead of the bins provided, making the collection of waste difficult. The littered parks, bridges, grounds bring to our notice the improper handling of waste at source.
Another major challenge in the way of waste management in India is the overflowing landfills. There is a minimum to no place left to accommodate more waste. It is high time for the government to look into constructive and innovative methods of waste disposal. Approximately 20% of the methane gas emissions are a result of these landfills. The possibility of the landfills catching fire because of the heat generated is another sign of environmental hazard. These landfills cause groundwater pollution and also affect the fertility of soil there. But for us, it is like ‘not my backyard, not my problem.’ Right?
There is no 360-degree planning for waste management. India is spending cores of rupees in installing the green garbage-bins. Yet, there are so many localities that complain about not having access to such facilities. Inconsistent collection, lack of proper technology to dispose of the waste, etc. add to the problem.
And what happened to our cities? Bengaluru, once known as the ‘garden city’ of India, today finds itself in a massive heap of garbage. As we started to prosper economically and infrastructurally, we started generating more trash. But, we left the waste management system behind in the time. We forgot to upgrade our system, and this has landed us today with a waste management crisis.
We, as a society, started leaning toward ‘out of sight, out of mind’ culture. But we still have time to change this. There is a lot of potential in this waste management system. Focus on the treatment and disposal of the waste will create a market for recyclers. Carrying this ahead, one of the best opportunities in front of us is waste-to-energy development. It will reduce the disposal of waste on land and generate reliable and clean energy from a renewable source. The challenges here are the lack of awareness and low motivation in making a change, but we can surely overcome them.
In the end, we have to ask ourselves: Isn’t a clean environment our responsibility? Aren’t we the prime beneficiaries of a clean environment? Today, we have time and privilege to change this situation and move towards a better and cleaner India. And by introducing proper technology, with efficient planning and effective execution, we can achieve these goals.