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Jan 10, 2012

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Generation in India

1. Per Capita Waste Generation
2. Quantity of Waste Generated

1. Per Capita Waste Generation
Waste generation rate in Indian cities ranges between 200 - 870 grams/day, depending upon the region’s lifestyle and the size of the city. The per capita waste generation is increasing by about 1.3% per year in India (7).

Cities in Western India were found to be generating the least amount of waste per person, only 440 grams/day, followed by East India (500 g/day), North India (520 g/day), and South India. Southern Indian cities generate 560 grams/day, the maximum waste generation per person. States with minimum and maximum per capita waste generation rates are Manipur (220 grams/day) and Goa (620 grams/day). Manipur is an Eastern state and Goa is Western and both are comparatively small states. Among bigger states, each person in Gujarat generates 395 g/day; followed by Orissa (400 g/day) and Madhya Pradesh (400 grams/day). Among states generating large amounts of MSW per person are Tamil Nadu (630 g/day), Jammu & Kashmir (600 g/day) and Andhra Pradesh (570 g/day). Among Union Territories, Andaman and Nicobar Islands generate the highest (870 grams/day) per capita, while Lakshadweep Islands (340 grams/day) generates the least per capita. Per capita waste generation in Delhi, the biggest Union Territory is 650 g/day.

The per capita waste generation rate is strongly correlated to the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country (Table 2). Per capita waste generation is the amount of waste generated by one person in one day in a country or region. The waste generation rate generally increases with increase in GDP. High income countries generate more waste per person compared to low income countries due to reasons discussed in further sections. The average per capita waste generation in India is 370 grams/day as compared to 2,200 grams in Denmark, 2,000 grams in US and 700 grams in China (12) (13) (14).
The Census of India classifies cities and towns into 4 classes, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4, depending upon their population (Table 4). Most of the cities studied during this research fell under Class 1. For the purpose of this study, these Class 1 cities were further categorized as Metropolitan, Class A, Class B, etc, until Class H depending upon the population of these cities. This finer classification allowed the author to observe the change in waste generation closer. However, the waste generation rates did not vary significantly between Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G & H cities. They fell in a narrow range of 0.43-0.49 kg/person/day. They generated significantly less MSW per person compared to the six metropolitan cities (0.6 kg/day). The per capita waste generation values of Class 2, 3 and 4 towns calculated in this report are not expected to represent respective classes due to the extremely small data set available. Data for only 6 out of 345 Class 2 cities, 4 out of 947 Class 3 cities and 1 out of 1,167 class 4 towns was available. Despite the lack of data in Class 2, 3, and 4 towns, the 366 cities and towns represent 70% of India’s urban population and provide a fair estimation of the average per capita waste generation in Urban India (0.5 kg/day).
2. Quantity of Waste Generated

Generation of MSW has an obvious relation to the population of the area or city, due to which bigger cities generate more waste. The metropolitan area of Kolkata generates the largest amount of MSW (11,520 TPD or 4.2 million TPY) among Indian cities.
Among the four geographical regions in India, Northern India generates the highest amount of MSW (40,500 TPD or 14.8 million TPY), 30% of all MSW generated in India; and Eastern India (23,500 TPD or 8.6 million TPY) generates the least, only 17% of MSW generated in India. Among states, Maharashtra (22,200 TPD or 8.1 million TPY), West Bengal (15,500 TPD or 5.7 million TPY), Uttar Pradesh (13,000 TPD or 4.75 million TPY), Tamil Nadu (12,000 TPD or 4.3 million TPY) Andhra Pradesh (11,500 TPD or 4.15 million TPY) generate the highest amount of MSW. Among Union Territories, Delhi (11,500 TPD or 4.2 million TPY) generates the highest and Chandigarh (486 TPD or 177,400 TPY) generates the second highest amount of waste.
Figure 5, Share of States and Union Territories in Urban MSW Generated

Figure 6, Share of Different Classes of Cities in Urban MSW Generated


  1. May I ask for information about the amount of informal waste burning in India? Hope to discuss with you more about waste management in the region. Please kindly reply to choose_star@yahoo.ca. Thanks

    1. Waste burning in India is considered to be 2% of the waste that is not collected and left on the streets, and 10% of the waste that is in dumpyards. These percentages are considered conservative as burning is expected to be much more. The exact tonnages is unknown. The above percentages are from a NEERI study on Mumbai.

      Please have a look at this post http://swmindia.blogspot.com/2012/11/air-pollution-due-to-improper-waste.html

  2. Do you have information or statistics about the amount of waste being reused/treated

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. SIR,can u give me the exact details as to how much profit does an SWM project get for 1 MW?

  5. 'Swachhagraha' is a campaign launched by Adani foundation, with Centre for Environment Education being the Knowledge and Implementation partner. The campaign is running in 6 cities of Gujarat namely Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot/Jasdan, Bhuj/Mundra and Anand. The campaign aims at creating a culture of cleanliness through behavior change, which is the best answer to make India litter free. The project has inspired change in 390 schools of Gujarat, with training 567 teachers. We are working with schools and in the span of 4 months, we have over 5000 children becoming leaders of change as '#Swachhagrahi'. Touching upon 500 children and cleaning staff through our first national campaign - '#SafaikeSitare', we believe in acknowledging the efforts of heroes that keep our country clean. Through our ongoing initiative '#GandagiSeAzadi', we strive to make the schools litter free by not creating waste. '#Swachhagraha' in real sense has started the revolution of zero tolerance towards littering, with the help of Navrachna University, Vidyanagar Nature Club and Surat Nature club, who are our local level implementing partners. It has become a driving force towards cleaner India. Join us in this movement by registering as #Swachhagrahi on www.swachhagraha.org. Like and Follow us on https://www.facebook.com/swachhagraha.org/.
    #Swachhagraha #Swachhagrahi #SwachhagrahaPrerak #SwachhagrahaSchool #TogetherWeCanWeWill #AdaniFoundation #CEE #CleanSchool #CleanIndia #SwachhBharat



CH4 Methane
Carbon Dioxide
Government of India
INR Indian Rupee
JnNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
LFG Landfill Gas
Mechanical Biological Treatment
MSW Municipal Solid Waste
NEERI National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
Refuse Derived Fuel
SLF Sanitary Landfill
SWM Solid Waste Management
USD United States Dollar
WPs Waste Pickers
WTE Waste-to-Energy
WTERT Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council