1. Impacts of Improper Waste Management
2. The Case of India
1. Impacts of Improper Waste ManagementImproper solid waste management deteriorates public health, degrades quality of life, and pollutes local air, water and land resources. It also causes global warming and climate change and impacts the entire planet. Improper waste management is also identified as a cause of 22 human diseases and results in numerous premature deaths every year.
Indiscriminate dumping of wastes and leachate from landfills contaminates surface and groundwater supplies and the surrounding land resources. It also clogs sewers and drains and leads to floods. Mumbai experienced a flood in 2006 which was partly due to clogged sewers. Insect and rodent vectors are attracted to MSW and can spread diseases such as cholera, dengue fever and plague. Using water polluted by solid waste for bathing, food irrigation, and as drinking water can also expose individuals to disease organisms and other contaminants .
Surat City experienced a Bubonic Plague epidemic in 1994 due to improper SWM. Improper SWM is also a reason for the recent (August - September, 2012) Dengue epidemic in Kolkata, which affected thousands and killed 25 people (as of September 12, 2012). Improper waste management was also the reason for the large scale public protests in Vilappilsala (near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) and Mavallipura (in Bengaluru, Karnataka). These protests were the result of long term health effects experienced by residents living around overflowing landfills.
Open burning of MSW on streets and at landfills, along with landfill fires emit 22,000 tons of pollutants into the lower atmosphere of Mumbai city, every year. The pollutants identified in Mumbai due to uncontrolled burning of wastes are carbon monoxide (CO), carcinogenic hydro carbons (HC) (includes dioxins and furans), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) . (Keep looking out for the next post for more figures and some charts on air pollution due to waste management).
MSW dumped in landfills also generates green house gases like...
methane, which has 21 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Improper SWM contributes to 6% of India’s methane emissions and is the third largest emitter of methane in India. This is much higher than the global average of 3% methane emissions from solid waste. It currently produces 16 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year and this number is expected to rise to 20 million tons of CO2 equivalents by 2020.
The world is moving towards calling wastes as “resources”. Due to the inability to manage these resources in the next decade, India will landfill 6.7 million tons of recyclables (or secondary raw materials); 9.6 million tons of compost (or organic fertilizer); and resources equivalent to 57.2 million barrels of oil.
The Case of IndiaULBs spend about $10 – 30 (INR 500 – 1,500) per ton on SWM. About 60-70% of this amount is spent on collection, 20-30% on transportation. No financial resources are allotted for scientific disposal of waste. Despite the fairly high expenditure, the present level of service in many urban areas is so low as to be a potential threat to the public health and environmental quality.
A guidance note titled “ Municipal Solid Waste Management on a Regional Basis”, by the Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD), Government of India (GOI) observes that “Compliance with the MSW Rules 2000 requires that appropriate systems and infrastructure facilities be put in place to undertake scientific collection, management, processing and disposal of MSW. However, authorities are unable to implement and sustain separate and independent projects to enable scientific collection, management, processing and disposal of MSW. This is mainly due to lack of financial and technical expertise and scarcity of resources, such as land and manpower.”
Efforts towards proper SWM were made by urban local bodies (ULBs) equipped with financial and managerial capacity to improve waste management practices in response to MSW Rules 2000. Despite these efforts to manage wastes, more than 91% of MSW collected is still landfilled or dumped on open lands and dumps , impacting public health, deteriorating quality of life and causing environmental pollution. It is estimated that about 2% of the uncollected wastes are burnt openly on the streets; and about 10% of the collected MSW is openly burnt in landfills or is caught in landfill fires (See Section 4.2). The MSW collection efficiency in major metro cities still ranges between 70 - 90% of waste generated, whereas smaller cities and towns collect less than 50% of waste generated.