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| Last Updated:: 13/02/2017

Waste Management

Waste Management

Wastes are unwanted material discarded after primary use. There are many waste types defined by modern systems of waste management.

Municipal waste includes household waste, commercial waste, and demolition waste

Hazardous waste includes industrial waste

Biomedical waste includes clinical waste Special hazardous waste includes radioactive waste, explosive waste and electronic waste (e-waste)

Waste Management: Cities and townships with populations between 1 lakh and 25 lakh typically generate between 200 to 500 grams of domestic solid waste per person per day. The management of this waste is an obligation of urban local bodies (ULBs) which entails collection, segregation, transportation, treatment and disposal. Compared to other services provided by ULBs, a large portion of the personnel employed is engaged in the management of waste. The quantity of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated varies from 0.57 tons per day (t/d) in a small town panchayat like Gurumitkal to 140 t/d in Belgaum City Corporation. According to Directorate of Municipal Administration Karnataka generates 8,825 t/d of waste (2009) with Bangalore being the largest contributor (4500 t/d). The major waste contribution comes from residences and commercial establishments. As estimated by NEERI, considering the growth rate of 6% of waste generation, the projected municipal solid waste could be 14,550 t /d for the year 2020. In spite of the maximum composting and incineration of waste 20% residue of waste would require landfilling.

Muncipal Solid Waste: The generation of household waste increases as income levels rises. Quantities generated depend on the economic strata, dietary habits, lifestyles and living standards. With the rise in urbanisation, areas available for land filling are getting lesser and lesser. Toxic products from wastes disposed in landfill sites is increasingly the leach into the groundwater. Natural decomposition of wastes produces explosive methane gas. Waste is rather attractive to cockroaches, flies and rodents warranting an effective disposal system.

Waste collection sites are fertile feeding and breeding grounds for certain species that often carry communicable diseases. Apart from undesirable odours and appalling aesthetics, disposal sites pose direct health hazards to humans. Solid waste, if allowed to accumulate and not disposed properly cause the following environmental impacts:  

Contamination of groundwater by leachate generated by waste dump  

Surface water contamination by run-off from the dump

Waste dumps favors fly breeding, attracts rodents and pests  

Generation of methane which is both inflammable and at the same time a greenhouse gas  

Nourishing of certain avian populations, particularly crows 

Transmission of disease through pests, stray animals and cattle

In this regard, City Corporations, City Municipal Corporations, Town Municipal Corporations and Town Panchayats of Karnataka have estimated 8,825 tons of Municipal Solid Waste per day, 6,778 (reported in 2004). Re-management of data from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) indicates that the total MSW generation in the state is 6,500 tons per day. Open waste dumps are a common site in urban areas. It is however assumed that the lack of good management of MSW in urban areas is having a tangible negative impact on human health.

Bio-Medical Waste:   Bio-medical waste also known as infectious healthcare is bio-hazardous with a potential to spread infection. It also has a comparatively high potential for formation and release of unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants. Therefore, it requires safe management throughout the life cycle in order to safeguard public health and protect the environment. Healthcare institutions like hospitals, primary health centres and community centres generate large amounts of waste. An estimate of 75 - 90% of the medical waste is classified as non-risk or general healthcare waste. However, the risk lies in the infectious components mixed with it. The disposal of wastes originating from healthcare establishments is likely to have adverse impact on both human health and the environment. However, experiences have shown that when this waste is managed properly the risk to both human beings and environment is reduced to a very large extent. Improper management and disposal of medical waste may result in the following ill effects: organic portions decay, ferment and result in fly and other pests breeding and spread of diseases; injuries from sharps can spread infections, diseases to health care personnel and waste handlers; Increased risk of infections to the medical, nursing and other hospital staff; poor infection control can lead to nosocomial infections like HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C amongst the patients and medical staff; increased risk of diseases due to untreated hazardous chemicals and drugs being handled by waste handlers; encouragement of recycling of disposables and disposed drugs by repacking and reselling; development of resistant strains of microorganisms. The effects on community and environment are due to inappropriate disposal of healthcare waste leading to soil, water and air pollution. According to Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules (1998) a town with a population less than 5 lakh should have deep burial pit to dispose bio-medical waste and there are standard guidelines for constructing such facilities while the audit report reveals that none of the deep burial facilities is according to these guidelines and in few districts even non-infectious waste is being dumped in to the deep burial pit rendering it non-digestible. In case, if these wastes are dumped unscientifically in the backyard it would be highly hazardous to both human health and environment.

Electronic Waste: Electronic waste or e-waste are the electrical and electronic equipment intended to be discarded, whole or in part as well as scrap or rejects from manufacturing and repair. There has been an explosive growth driven by the unparalleled spread and penetration of microprocessor based computers, control, communication and entertainment products paired with rapid development and consequently high obsolescence rates. It is nearly impossible to make dependable estimates for e-waste in Karnataka. Official data is not available and there is neither a mechanism for systematic collection of e-waste nor a reliable process assessing its volume. According to a conservative assessment of WHO Bangalore alone is estimated to generate about 125 tons of e-waste annually which is projected to rise to 147 t/a in 2020. However, this takes into account only a very limited number of devices while many more need to be considered as e-waste in accordance with legislation. The 2007 study “e-Waste Assessment in India” estimates that 333,000 tons of e-waste is generated in India. Karnataka’s contribution to that is in the order of 17,000 t/a, assuming that the state’s share in India’s population of about 5% provides a reasonable proxy for waste generation. This number is still optimistic given the concentration of IT and ITES (IT enabled services) in the state.

Slaughterhouse Waste: Slaughterhouse waste is defined as the animal body parts cut off in the preparation of carcasses for use as food. This waste can come from several sources, including slaughterhouses, restaurants, stores and farms. Waste generated in slaughterhouses comprises of both liquid and solid fractions and consist of non-edible organs, stomach contents, dung, bones and sludge from waste water treatment. The effluents are characterised by high content of organic matter, suspended solids and has high value of BOD. The principal deleterious effect of these wastes on streams and watercourses is their de-oxygenation effect. The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter & Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 prohibits slaughter of cow and female buffalo calves. Official data on the amount of slaughterhouse waste generated does not exist. Though the management of waste from slaughterhouses by law is treated akin to municipal waste, it is important to note that its nature and the possibility of infections require treatment more similar to bio-medical waste. Karnataka has 96 registered slaughterhouses, most of them are old and dilapidated and do not have basic facilities like sanitation, effluent treatment, electricity, water and ventilation. Earlier, Government of Karnataka and Government of India established a joint venture in 1974: Karnataka Meat and Poultry Marketing Company (KaMPCo) especially for the purpose of setting up modern slaughterhouses across Karnataka. Many projects were taken up by KaMPCo but owing to either social resentment or environmental concerns none of the projects is operational now. The Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA), Urban Development Department (UDD) intends to set up or develop modern abattoirs in 51 urban local bodies comprising seven municipal corporations and 44 city municipal councils.

Plastic waste, though treated along with municipal solid waste, is of special concern. Plastic bags are in extensive use in retail establishments. Their disposal, aided by wind and weather often leads them to litter the environment and to enter drains and water bodies. The magnitude of their presence in open spaces and drains is leading to situations where they choke and clog storm water drains, preventing them from functioning as designed. The consequence of this causal chain is visible in the water logging after downpours in dense urban areas. The problem is compounded by the dexterity of fine plastic materials and the fact that decomposition is very slow when the material is not exposed to ultraviolet light. The much-touted prohibition on the use of plastics has been undertaken with the bold initiative taken by State government of Karnataka and issued a gazette notification on 11th March, 2016. Karnataka is thus in the forefront in ensuring a total ban on plastics. Although it took nearly a decade for successive governments to evolve a fool-proof blueprint and beat the pressure exerted by the plastic lobby. The government notification makes specific mention that plastic, no matter its thickness, is banned across the State. “No shopkeeper, vendor, wholesale dealer, trader, hawker retailer, or salesman shall use plastic carry bags, plastic banners, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, plastic buntings, flex, plastic flags cling film and plastic sheets for spreading on dining table, irrespective of thickness including the above items made of thermacol and plastic, which use plastic micro beads”. The only exemption granted is for the export units, milk and milk products packaging and plant nurseries. This is expected to bring about a whole lot of change in the life of the common people to save the environment from plastic contamination. In this direction, use of plastic carry bags of less than 50 microns thickness is banned to fight against this “Plastic Devil”. Moreover, the plastic ban in Karnataka is a step forward in the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan initiative, and it calls for a people’s movement to ensure plastic-free environment. The State government has empowered a range of officials from municipalities and several other departments to enforce the plastic ban, and it is imperative on them to exhibit their commitment.

Indian law defines hazardous waste as any substance, which has the ability to cause risks for human health or the environment via their physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive properties. This already broad scope is further expanded by a clause that specifies that substances must also be considered hazardous when it meets any of the above criteria when in contact with other waste or substances. Karnataka’s Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for land fillable hazardous waste are in operation.

Source: SOER Report 2011