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Dec 3, 2011

Research Summary

Research Summary is also a page along with the Home page, Scope of Study and Introduction

Executive Summary, Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India.

Scope of Study
This study examined the present status of waste management in India, its effects on public health and the environment, and the prospects of introducing improved means of disposing municipal solid waste (MSW) in India. The systems and techniques discussed are Informal and Formal Recycling, Aerobic Composting and Mechanical Biological Treatment, Small Scale Biomethanation, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), Waste-to-Energy Combustion (WTE), and Landfill Mining (or Bioremediation).
This report is the result of over two years of research and includes data collected from the literature, communication with professionals in India, US and Europe; and extensive field investigations by the author in India and the US. Two field visits in India over a period of fifteen weeks covered 13 cities (Figure 1) representing all sizes and regions in India. The visits included travelling to informal recycling hubs, waste dealers shops, composting facilities, RDF facilities, WTE facilities, sanitary and unsanitary landfills, landfill mining sites, and numerous municipal offices. These visits provided the opportunity to closely observe the impact of waste management initiatives, or lack thereof, on the public in those cities. The author has also visited different WTE plants in the US to study the prospects of this technology in India.
Figure 1. Map of Cities Generating Different Quantities (2001 Values) of MSW; Cities Visited by the Author during Research Visits

Aug 29, 2011

Municipal Solid Waste Generation Quantity in Indian Cities

Urban India generates 188,500 tonnes per day (68.8 million tonnes per year) of municipal solid waste (MSW) at a per capita waste generation rate of 500 grams/person/day. The total waste generation figure is achieved by extrapolating the total tonnage of wastes documented for 366 cities (70% of India's urban population) in the table below.

To copy this table to MS Excel, select data, and "Paste Special" in Excel and choose "Text". The whole spreadsheet can also be obtained by leaving a request with your email address in the comments section

In 2001, there were about 104 cities generating MSW above 150 tonnes per day (TPD) and 295 cities generating above 50 TPD. The most comprehensive study on solid waste generation in Indian cities is "Assessment of the status of municipal solid waste management in metro cities, state capitals, class I cities, and class II towns in India", published in 2005 by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). This study covered 59 cities. The study documented per capita waste generation values and calculated the total waste generated depending upon the population of respective cities.
Increasing solid waste generation in India cities and lack of disposal sites (Dumpsite at Pimpri Chinchwad)
Although the collection, transportation and scientific disposal of MSW in about 26 cities were covered in Service Level Benchmarking (SLB)" conducted by the Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD), the quantum of wastes generated in other cities has never been addressed. I observed a necessity to document waste generation in more cities and attempted to address that through this table. This table puts the waste generation in urban India at (above) 136,000 TPD at an average per capita generation of 500 grams/day. It presents the approximate waste generation values and per capita waste generation rates in 366 Indian cities for 2011 to be the largest of such compilations yet.

Aug 5, 2011

WTERT - India is here

Setting up WTERT - India was an important part of my research. Here we are, ready with WTERT - India, next on agenda are carrying out research on various aspects of SWM with focus on India.
Find the entire Press Release below. We have announced this on www.wtert.org and www.neeri.res.in
In order to address the rising interest, increasing investments and to funnel important decisions related to MSWM in India in the right direction, the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) at Columbia University and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) have decided to set-up Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT) in India and include it in WTERT’s global charter where it would function as India’s window to the world on the entire spectrum of SWM issues. WTERT – India is set-up with the same guiding principle as WTERT’s global charter that “responsible management of wastes must be based on science and best available technology and not on ideology and economics that exclude environmental costs and seem to be inexpensive now but can be very costly in the future”. All sister organizations in WTERT’s global charter understand that solutions vary from region to region and work together towards better waste management around the world. WTERT – India is set-up with the understanding that solutions vary from region to region and is committed to researching locally available technologies. 

Jul 28, 2011

Composting in India

**References in this post need to be updated**

Composting is the biological decomposition of the biodegradable organic fraction of MSW under controlled conditions to a state sufficiently stable for nuisance-free storage and handling and for safe use in land applications [44]. 

Composting is the most widely employed MSWM technique in India, with above 56 composting plants in more than 43 cities [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [2]; most of these composting facilities handle between 100 – 1000 TPD of MSW [will attach an Appendix]. Composting is successful because it is a low cost and low infrastructure set-up and also produces compost, which is a marketable byproduct. The capital investment for building a composting plant is $ 4,476 per ton (INR 200,000) of waste processed [4] and the compost is being sold at $ 45 – 49 per ton (INR 2,000 – 2,200) [28]. Availability of government aid and rising entrepreneurial interest resulted in an upsurge in the number of composting facilities nationwide. Composting of MSW is undertaken by either of the two methods, a) Windrow composting or b) Vermicomposting. During the trip, I observed that vermicomposting was employed by towns or small cities generating MSW < 100 TPD, whereas larger cities employed mechanical windrow composting, which minimizes manual handling of wastes.

Fig 1: Rejects from the composting plant at Nasik (/Nashik)

Small scale Biomethanation (Biogas) in India

**References in this post need to be updated**

Anaerobic digestion (AD) of kitchen waste to produce biogas and liquid slurry on a small scale has been very successful in India, especially South India, where the region’s temperate weather conditions favor the process yearlong.  Many households have such biogas units installed. Total number of units installed in cities is unknown as there are too many companies offering them and the units being installed in both urban and rural areas, while the numbers are not necessarily recorded. In order to have a closer look at this technology, I identified a private company called Biotech with its office in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala as a case study for small scale biogas. This company alone installed twenty thousand (20,000) units of small scale biogas in Thiruvanathapuram and Kochi, combined. Biotech can be considered a more successful company in this area, which might help gauging number of units installed by others. These units divert about 40 tons of waste from landfills, which is 3.5% of the organic waste generated in both cities together. It also implies avoidance of 2.6% of collection and transportation costs and resulting GHG emissions.

A small scale (2 kg per day) Biogas unit at Biotech's office in Thiruvananthapuram

Feb 8, 2011

Informal Sector, Plastic Waste Rules, 2011

The role of informal sector has been "explicitly" recognized by Ministry of Environment and Forests in the new Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 (available here)Recognition of the informal sector has been the most important feature of the new set of rules which will replace Plastic Waste (Management and Handling Rules), 1999 (amended in 2003). One has to understand that the recognition of the informal sector is for its role in recycling all kinds of materials from municipal solid wastes and e-wastes and is not limited to only plastics recycling. Although the role of informal sector was cited in many reports published by government agencies, coordinating with the informal sector as a stakeholder is now wholly the responsibility of Municipal Corporations.
Informal sector provides a useful service to the community and environment; saves above 9.5 lakh tonnes of CO2 annually in Delhi alone


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