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Nov 5, 2010


Sustainable waste handling practices should give priority to material recovery over energy recovery. Composting thus precedes waste to energy methods on the waste management hierarchy (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: Solid Waste Management Hierarchy
Composting is a comparatively old technique practiced in a decentralized fashion in individual households with backyards and farms. However, rapid urbanization squeezed houses, as a result pushing wastes onto the streets. Thus, the responsibility of waste management was transferred to public representatives, requiring the system to be centralized. Centralized waste handling requires dedicated infrastructure, which developing nations lacked and composting as a waste management practice declined altogether. Despite this, urban compost has been a steady nutrient supplement to surrounding farms all over India, but it took place in a very small scale with no imperative for waste management <1>. 

The situation is improving with composting being a low cost and low infrastructure set-up, government aid and entrepreneurial interests; India now has more than 56 composting plants in more than 43 cities most of them being aerobic composting, thus making composting the most widely employed waste handling technique in Indian cities. Degraded quality of compost however remains to be a concern according to a study on compost from 29 cities which found that majority of the compost failed to achieve the requisite specification with respect to both fertilizing and heavy metal parameters of Quality Control standards <2>. The study however hopes improvement of the quality of compost produced in India and suggests measures towards that.

1. 2004, Christine Furedy, Raakhee Kulkarni, Demand for Compost from Urban Organic Solid Wastes in Hyderabad, Solid Waste Management and Recycling; Actors, Partnerships and Policies in Hyderabad, India and Nairobi, Kenya. pg. 229-240
2. 2010, J. K. Saha, N. Pawar, M. V. Singh, An Assessment of Municipal Solid Waste Compost quality produced in different cities of India in the Perspective of Developing Quality Control Indices


  1. Hierarchy of Solid waste management is explained neatly, as mentioned Composting is the important stage where we should avoid plastic and Non-recyclable products.

  2. that's true. If wastes from cities are collected separately and if cities have enough space for composting facilities, this is the most economic and sustainable way of handling wastes.

    This will be true despite the fact that separate collection of wastes is slight less efficient and that composts from city wastes are not up to the mark.



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