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Jun 26, 2012

Definition of a Solid Waste Management System

A solid waste management (SWM) system includes the generation of waste, storage, collection, transportation, processing and final disposal. This study focused on disposal options for municipal solid waste (MSW) in India. Read the Definition of Municipal Solid Waste.

Agricultural and manufactured products of no more value are discarded as wastes. Once items are discarded as waste, they need to be collected. Waste collection in most parts of the world is centralized and all kinds of waste generated by a household or institution are collected together as mixed wastes.

Collection and transportation of municipal solid waste (MSW) as part of Hyderabad, India's solid waste management (SWM) system
Solid waste management (SWM) is a basic public necessity and this service is provided by respective urban local bodies (ULBs) in India. SWM starts with the collection of solid wastes and ends with their disposal and/or beneficial use. Proper SWM requires separate collection of different wastes, called source separated waste collection. Source separated collection is common in high income regions of the world like Europe, North America and Japan where the infrastructure to transport separate waste streams exists. Most centralized municipal systems in low income countries like India collect solid wastes in a mixed form because source separate collection systems are non-existent. Source separated collection of waste is limited by infrastructure, personnel and public awareness. A significant amount of paper is collected in a source separated form, but informally. In this report, unmixed waste will be specially referred to as source separated waste, in all other cases municipal solid waste (MSW) or solid waste would refer to mixed wastes.
Indian cities are still struggling to achieve the collection of all MSW generated. Metros and other big cities in India collect between 70- 90% of MSW. Smaller cities and towns collect less than 50% (6). The benchmark for collection is 100%, which is one of the most important targets for ULBs at present. This is a reason why source separated collection is not yet in the radar.

Definition of Municipal Solid Waste

Waste is defined as any material that is not useful and does not represent any economic value to its owner, the owner being the waste generator (10). Depending on the physical state of waste, wastes are categorized into solid, liquid and gaseous. Solid Wastes are categorized into municipal wastes, hazardous wastes, medical wastes and radioactive wastes. Managing solid waste generally involves planning, financing, construction and operation of facilities for the collection, transportation, recycling and final disposition of the waste (10). This study focuses only on the disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW), as an element of overall municipal solid waste management or just solid waste management (SWM). Read the Definition of a Solid Waste Management System.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

MSW is defined as any waste generated by household, commercial and/or institutional activities and is not hazardous (10). Depending upon the source, MSW is categorized into three types: Residential or household waste which arises from domestic areas from individual houses; commercial wastes and/or institutional wastes which arise from individually larger sources of MSW like hotels, office buildings, schools, etc.; municipal services wastes which arise from area sources like streets, parks, etc. MSW usually contains food wastes, paper, cardboard, plastics, textiles, glass, metals, wood, street sweepings, landscape and tree trimmings, general wastes from parks, beaches, and other recreational areas (11). Sometimes other household wastes like batteries and consumer electronics also get mixed up with MSW.


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