Popular Posts

Nov 1, 2012

Status of Current Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Handling Techniques in India

This post is Section 3 from this blog's source and Columbia University's report Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India.


1. Summary
2. Aerobic Composting or Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) Facilities
3. Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) facilities
4. Waste-to-energy combustion (WTE) facilities
5. Sanitary Landfills (SLFs)

1. Summary

Out of the 57 cities surveyed, all of them continue uncontrolled dumping to a large extent. However, twenty one (21) cities have reported applying earth cover (how frequently is unknown) to the wastes in the landfills and 24 cities reported compaction and alignment of wastes as opposed to uncontrolled dumping! 

Thirty eight (38) cities have mechanical biological treatment facilities treating more than 4,300 tons per day (TPD) of mixed solid waste, 6 cities have refuse derived fuel (RDF) or Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facilities treating about 1,600 tons per day (TPD) of mixed waste. Small scale biomethanation is practiced in more than 9 cities, but these efforts are generally scattered. They are successful near markets, slaughter houses and other such large sources of separated organic wastes.

Eight (8) cities have constructed sanitary landfills (SLFs). It is important to note that five (5) of them generating less than 1,000 TPD of municipal solid waste (MSW), and three of them generating about 2,000 TPD of MSW. Sanitary landfills (SLFs) in larger cities has proven unsuccessful and cities generating less than 500 TPD do not have enough resources to build and maintain SLFs. A regional facility model suggested by MOUD should be followed to make a SLF a reality when it comes to those cities.

Three (3) cities: Mumbai, Pune and Agra are known to be carrying out landfill gas (LFG) recovery, even though Mumbai's landfill where the LFG recovery operation is taking place was an open dump and not a sanitary landfill as it is in Pune and Agra.

This report has updated the “Status of Cities and state capitals in implementation of MSW (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000”, jointly published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), with respect to waste disposal options. The original table was published by Sunil Kumar, et al. in the paper “Assessment of the Status of Municipal Solid Waste Management in Metro Cities, State Capitals, Class I Cities and Class II Towns in India: An Insight” (1). This updated table contains only those cities which generate MSW greater than 200 TPD and have taken significant steps towards proper SWM.
Informal recycling has not been included in this table. Most of the recyclable waste is collected by the informal recycling sector in India before it is collected by the formal system. It is assumed that informal waste picking happens in all Indian cities to some extent (Kochi is an exception due to labor laws which prohibit waste picking). Also, the exact percentage of recycling in each of these cities is unknown. However, it is estimated that the informal sector recycles as much as 56% of recyclables generated in large cities and metros, (See Section 5.1.1). The recycling percentage is lower in smaller cities as was observed by Perinaz Bhada, et al (15).

2. Aerobic Composting or Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) Facilties

On an average, 6% of MSW collected is composted in mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plants across India. MBT is the most widely employed technology to handle MSW in India. Currently, there are more than 70 composting plants in India treating mixed MSW, most of them located in the states of Maharashtra (19), Himachal Pradesh (11), Chhattisgarh (9) and Orissa (7) (Appendix 8). More than 26 new plants are proposed in different cities and towns across India. The first 10 MBT plants built in India are however not in operation anymore.
Out of the 57 cities which generate MSW above 200 TPD, 38 cities have composting plants, which treat more than 4,361 TPD of MSW. Table 9 is therefore the first such effort which accounts for about 40% of the current MSW composting capacity in India.
Almost all composting/MBT facilities handle mixed wastes. The only known plants which handle source separated organic wastes are in Vijayawada and Suryapet (26). Since almost all these plants handle mixed solid wastes, the percentage of rejects which go to the landfill is very high. During the author’s research visit in India, it was observed that only 6-7% of the input MSW is converted into compost. Accounting for moisture and material losses, the remaining 60% which cannot be composted any further is landfilled despite its high energy content (See Section 5.2.4)

3. Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Facilties

There are 6 RDF plants in India, near Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Rajkot. The plant in Vijayawada used to serve the city of Guntur too. The Hyderabad and Vijayawada plants handled 700 TPD and 500 TPD of MSW to generate 6 MW of electricity respectively. RDF produced in these plants was combusted in specifically designed WTE boilers. The author visited one of these plants and found out that both these facilities are currently not in operation.
The RDF plants near Jaipur and Chandigarh combust the RDF produced in cement kilns to replace fossil fuels. They handle 500 TPD of MSW each. The author visited the plant in Jaipur and found that it is not operated regularly. The plant in Chandigarh is known to have been dormant too, but it is being retrofitted with MSW drying systems to reduce moisture in the final RDF.
The RDF plant in Rajkot handles 300 TPD of waste. Other than this information, there is not much known about this plant; its present operational status is unknown too. It is the same case with the small scale RDF plant in Mumbai, which produces RDF pellets by processing 80 TPD of MSW (See Section 5.4).

4. Waste-to-Energy Combustion (WTE) Facilities

(This section was updated after the publication of the source report Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India) 
Only two WTE plants were built in India until now, both in Delhi. Only one of them is currently in operation at Okhla landfill site, New Delhi and has started operations in December, 2011. An earlier WTE plant, which was built in Timarpur, New Delhi is not in operation anymore. The two WTE plants in Hyderabad and Vijayawada are not mass burn combustion. They combust RDF produced after considerable processing of MSW, and addition of secondary biomass fuels like rice husk. Therefore they are RDF-WTE plants.
Even though the Okhla Timarpur plant was built to be a mass burn combustion plant, it is known that they undertake primary processing of the waste to increase its suitability to the boilers.

5. Sanitary Landfills (SLFs)

On comparing Table 9 with the original publication (Comparison in Appendix 3), it was observed that the number of SLFs is gradually increasing. Eight cities now have SLFs as compared to zero SLFs out of 74 cities studied. The eight cities with SLFs are Pune, Ahmadabad, Surat, Jodhpur, Chandigarh, Navi Mumbai, Mangalore and Nashik. The author visited the landfill facility at Nashik and observed that there were no precautions taken to handle landfill fires, which were found to be common at the facility (See Section 4.2). In addition to the 8 cities with SLFs, an additional 13 (total 21) cities apply earth cover over the wastes dumped and an additional 15 cities (total 24) compact or align the wastes. The frequency of applying earth cover on wastes is not known.
LFG recovery from landfills has also been attempted at landfills in Mumbai and Pune. A study by USEPA’s Methane to Markets program found methane recovery from only 7 landfills (in 4 cities) to be economically feasible (Table below).
UNEP recommends “[sanitary landfilling] is well suited to developing countries (like India) as a means of managing the disposal of wastes because of the flexibility and relative simplicity of the technology”. This recommendation does not take into consideration the high maintaining and operating costs of SLFs and the need for SWM projects to sustain themselves. Most sanitary landfills built in developing nations eventually fail due to high operating costs. A system where majority of the waste generated is planned to reach the landfill will lack robust cost recovery mechanisms. In such a case, the only cost recovery mechanism possible would be tipping fees, which will require increasing or levying user charges/taxes, which many ULBs cannot implement. Sanitary landfilling systems should be designed as an addition to recycling, composting or WTE facilities, which sustain themselves financially.



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