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Dec 5, 2012

Discussion on Waste Management Options in India

A request for help I posted on a LinkedIn group led to a lively discussion between waste management experts on waste management options for India. Read more about the discussion here. http://wtert.blogspot.com/2012/12/discussion-on-solutions-to-waste.html .

The request for help was for a new report I am about to publish, called "Observations from India's Crisis". It will be published in a PDF format on wtert.org and as a BLOG POST on blog.wtert.org.

An Analogy from the above discussion on LinkedIn, which is worth mentioning:

Professor Nickolas Themelis on Waste Management Options (He was the Adviser for my research on Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India that resulted in this blog) :

The situation with waste management is somewhat like that with public health: Good diet and exercise, vitamins, preventive medicine, all contribute to better health and less sickness. Despite all that, there will be some sick people who need to go to hospitals. It is obvious that advocating against hospitals or opposing new ones will not improve public health. 
It is the same situation with urban waste management: There all kinds of means for reduction, recycling, composting but ALL human experience has shown that at the end there remains a substantial fraction that has to go to either "incinerators with energy recovery or to sanitary landfills. Environmental organizations who oppose these two means on principle, in effect are perpetuating traditional landfilling. Regrettably, the Sierra Club is spending a lot of donated money doing just that.
Link to the entire discussion is here.
Link to the original article is here.

Nov 25, 2012

Integrated Solid Waste Management - Definition

Definition of Integrated Solid Waste Management

Integrated waste management is the coordinated use of a strategically chosen set of waste management options each of which play specific roles in prevention and reduction of waste and its transportation, and in material and energy recovery from wastes towards achieving maximum resource efficiency.

This definition is a result of combining two earlier definitions from
  1. Coordinated use of a set of waste management methods, each of which can play a role in an overall Municipal Solid Waste Management plan. (The Global Development Research Center - GDRC)
  2. Integrated solid waste management refers to the strategic approach to sustainable management of solid wastes covering all sources and all aspects, covering generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal in an integrated manner, with an emphasis on maximizing resource use efficiency. (Mushtaq Ahmed Memon - International Environmental Technology Centre - IETC, United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP)
Future reference: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/definition

Nov 23, 2012

Air Pollution due to Improper Waste Management - Open Burning and Landfill Fires


1. Emissions of Particulate Matter, Hydrocarbons, and Carbon Monoxide 
2. Carcinogenic Dioxins/Furans Emissions

1. Emissions of Particulate Matter, Hydrocarbons, and Carbon Monoxide 

A 2010 study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, “Air Quality Assessment, Emissions Inventory and Source Apportionment Studies: Mumbai” found out that open burning and landfill fires are a major source of air pollution in Mumbai. The study found that about 2% of the total MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) generated in Mumbai is openly burnt on the streets and 10% of the total MSW generated is burnt in landfills by humans or due to landfill fires.
In Mumbai, open burning of MSW is (Appendix 4, Table 11, Figure 16, Figure 17, Figure 18, Figure 19)
1.      the largest emitter of carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), carcinogenic hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrous oxides (NOx), among activities that do not add to the economy of the city;
2.      the second largest emitter of hydrocarbons (HC);
3.      the second largest emitter of particulate matter (PM);
4.      the fourth largest emitter of carbon monoxide compared to all emissions sources in Mumbai; and
5.      the third largest emitter of CO, PM and HC combined together in comparison to all emission sources in the city.
Figure 19, Open burning contributes to 19% of Mumbai’s Air Pollution due to Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons and Particulate Matter
Figure 16, Open burning is a Major Contributor to Carbon Monoxide Pollution in Mumbai  

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.

Oct 16, 2012

Advice to Thiruvananthapuram might not help alleviate the city's looming solid waste crisis

The original post is on blog.wtert.org

This is a response to an article published by FirstPost.com with the title "Thiruvananthapuram sinks in its own waste as rulers look for shortcuts" on October 16, 2012.

Public protests - The Hindu
This critique is not about the conceptual or factual validity of the article but it is to distinguish between the short-term and long-term priorities and solutions for the city. In the absence of such a distinction, various stakeholders with the same goal of solving the crisis and with correct models will end up debating ideals and fighting within each other, finally doing no good to the city.

While depicting the situation as: 
When the residents of Vilappilsaala said "no more garbage" to their neighbourhood, the corporation, which is used to an archaic collect-transport-dump routine, didn’t know what to do. They just stopped garbage collection and it started piling up everywhere. The city is putrid today.
FirstPost suggests a 4-step approach (edited for brevity)
1. Ask the city residents to mandatorily separate waste at source. Once recyclables and organic matter are removed, only about 20 per cent needs to be dumped in a sanitary landfill. 
2. Once the source-segregation is made mandatory, the city corporation can collect both the recyclables door-to-door (women-run self help groups have been doing this). Engage scrap dealers to whom the materials can be sold.

3. The bio-degradable materials can be collected door-to-door and used in compost facilities at several locations in the city.

4. The remaining 20% of waste need to be disposed off in landfills.
Thiruvananthapuram - Deccan Chronicle
The 4-step advise can be followed if the City can get over the current crisis. For whatever reason, if it fails to do so, the crisis will continue like in Campania, Italy. In that case, Firstpost's advise will provide some relief but not real solutions. Therefore, it is irrelevant to the article's subject line. Let me explain how:
The subject line and the article speak about the imminent solid waste crisis in Thiruvananthapuram, but the solution suggested is not a process but a future state that should be achieved. To achieve such a state, the suggested components should evolve together with gradually increasing infrastructure, changing social habits and the city's institutional and financial abilities. Such a change cannot be brought in with sudden interventions in a short span of time.

Oct 3, 2012

Impacts of Improper Solid Waste Management and the Case of India

This post is an edited/updated version of Section 4 from Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India


1. Impacts of Improper Waste Management

2. The Case of India

1. Impacts of Improper Waste Management

Improper 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...

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Jul 7, 2012

Population and Municipal Solid Waste Generation in India


1. Population
2. Population Growth
3. Impact of Population Growth on Municipal Solid Waste Generation

1. Population

India is the second most populous nation on the planet. The Census of 2011 estimates a population of 1.21 billion which is 17.66% of the world population. It is as much as the combined population of USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan. The population of Uttar Pradesh, one among 28 Indian states is greater than that of Brazil, the fifth most populous nation in the world. India’s urban population was 285 million in 2001 and increased to 377 million in 2011. Indian urban population is greater than the total population of USA (308.7 million), the third most populous nation.
Appendix 1 (in the report here) lists 366 cities which represent 70% of India’s urban population and generate 130,000 tons per day (TPD) or 47.2 million tons per year (TPY) at a per capita waste generation rate of 500 grams/day. This implies the total MSW generated by urban India could be as much as 188,500 TPD or 68.8 million TPY. This number matches the projection (65 million TPY in 2010) by Sunil Kumar, et al. (17). Therefore, this report assumes that the quantum of waste generated by urban India to be 68.8 million TPY. The general consensus on amount of waste generated by urban India is 50 million TPY, which is very low in comparison to the current findings.
Figure 8. Total Population and Urban Population Growth in India
The six metro cities, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru together generate 48,000 TPD (17.5 million TPY) of MSW. Currently, India has 53 cities with populations greater than one million, generating 86,245 TPD (31.5 million TPY), which is about 46 % of the total MSW generated in urban India. The remaining 313 cities studied generate 15.7 million TPY (43,000 TPD), 23% of the total urban MSW, only half of that generated by the 53 cities with million plus population.

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.

Apr 29, 2012

Impact on Quality of Life

The Global Development Research Center, GDRC defines Quality of Life (QOL) as the product of the interplay among social, health, economic and environmental conditions which affect human and social development. QOL reflects the gap between the hopes and expectations of a person or population and their present experience.
In a country like India, which aspires to be a global economic giant, public health and quality of life are degrading everyday with the increasing gap between services required and those provided. India is also considered a sacred nation by the majority of its inhabitants but the streets and open lands in Indian cities are filled with untreated and rotting garbage.
Improper SWM is an Everyday Nuisance to Urban Indians
Current citizens of India are living at a time of unprecedented economic growth and changing lifestyles. Unsanitary conditions on the streets and air pollution in the cities will widen the gap between their expectations due to the rapidly changing perception of their “being” and “where they belong” and the prevailing conditions, resulting in plummeting quality of life.
Improper SWM is an everyday nuisance to urban Indians.

Apr 19, 2012

Need for Global Attention to Solid Waste Management

This is my post on the Global WTERT Council (GWC) Blog.

Some countries have achieved considerable success in solid waste management. But the rest of the world is grappling to deal with its wastes. In these places, improper management of solid waste continues to impact public health of entire communities and cities; pollute local water, air and land resources; contribute to climate change and ocean plastic pollution; hinder climate change adaptation; and accelerate depletion of forests and mines.

Compared to solid waste management, we can consider that the world has achieved significant success in providing other basic necessities like food, drinking water, energy and economic opportunities. Managing solid wastes properly can help improve the above services further. Composting organic waste can help nurture crops and result in a better agricultural yield. Reducing landfilling and building sanitary landfills will reduce ground and surface water pollution which can help provide cleaner drinking water. Energy recovery from non-recyclable wastes can satiate significant portion of a city's energy requirement. Inclusive waste management where informal waste recylcers are involved can provide an enormous economic opportunity to the marginalized urban poor. Additionally, a good solid waste management plan with cost recovery mechanisms can free tax payers money for other issues.

Solid waste management until now has only been a social responsibility of the corporate world or one of the services to be provided by the municipality and a non-priority for national governments. However, in Mumbai, the improperly managed wastes generate 22,000 tons of toxic pollutants like particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrous and sulfur oxides in addition to 10,000 grams of carcinogenic dioxins and furans every year. These numbers are only for the city of Mumbai. This is the case in cities all across the developing world. There are numerous examples where groundwater is polluted by heavy metals and organic contaminants due to solid waste landfills. Solid waste management expenditure of above $ 1 billion per year competes with education, poverty, security and other sustainable initiatives in New York City. Fossil fuels for above 500,000 truck trips covering hundreds of miles are required to transport NYC's waste to landfills outside the city and state. Similarly, New Delhi spends more than half of its entire municipal budget on solid waste management, while it is desperate for investments and maintenance of roads, buildings, and other infrastructure.

Solid waste management is not just a corporate social responsibility or a non-priority service anymore. Improper waste management is a public health and environmental crisis, economic loss, operational inefficiency and political and public awareness failure. Integrated solid waste management can be a nation building exercise for healthier and wealthier communities. Therefore, it needs global attention to arrive at solutions which span across such a wide range of issues.

Apr 17, 2012

Focus on Andhra Pradesh (AP) & AP Pollution Control Board uses Data from this Research

This research has found that Andhra Pradesh state (urban) generates about 11,500 tons per day (TPD) solid waste, which is about 9% of all solid waste generated in India. I'm glad to see this data put to use by The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) on their website. On an average, every person in Andhra Pradesh generates 570 grams per day of waste, compared to Tamil Nadu (630 g/day) and Jammu & Kashmir (600 g/day). Andhra Pradesh is among the southern Indian states which together generate 560 g/day per person, the highest waste generation rate compared to East, North and West India.
Conveyor belt to transport Refuse Derived Fuel into the Waste-to-Energy boiler at the Plant (in Elikatta village) near Hyderabad
 Greater Hyderabad, which is the largest metropolitan area in Andhra Pradesh generates about 5,000 TPD of waste (1.83 million tons per year), followed by Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, which generate 1,200 TPD (440,000 tons per year) and 700 TPD (250,000 tons per year) respectively.
Andhra Pradesh has been a leader in applying waste management technology

Mar 10, 2012

Anaerobic Digestion, Waste-to-Energy and the Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management

2. Energy Recovery
2.1 Anaerobic Digestion
2.2 Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)
2.3 Waste-to-Energy (WTE)
Spittelau Waste-to-Energy Plant, Source: josylein

2. Energy Recovery
Energy requirements of a community can be satiated to some extent by energy recovery from wastes as a better alternative to landfilling. Energy recovery is a method of recovering the chemical energy in MSW. Chemical energy stored in wastes is a fraction of input energy expended in making those materials. Due to the difference in resources (materials/energy) that can be recovered, energy recovery falls below material recovery on the hierarchy of waste management.

2.1 Energy and Material Recovery: Anaerobic Digestion (AD)
Other names: Anaerobic Composting, Biogas, Biomethanation
The USEPA defines Anaerobic Digestion (AD) as a process where microorganisms break down organic materials, such as food scraps, manure and sewage sludge, in the absence of oxygen.  In the context of SWM, anaerobic digestion (also called Anaerobic Composting or Biomethanation) is a method to treat source separated organic waste to recover energy in the form of biogas, and compost in the form of a liquid residual. Biogas consists of methane and carbon dioxide and can be used as fuel or, by using a generator it can be converted to electricity on-site. The liquid slurry can be used as organic fertilizer. The ability to recover energy and compost from organics puts AD above aerobic composting on the hierarchy of waste management.

Jan 24, 2012

Recycling, Composting, and the Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management

1 The Hierarchy
2. Material Recovery: Recycling
3. Material Recovery: Aerobic Composting

1. The Hierarchy
The Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management (Figure 10) developed by the Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University is widely used as a reference to sustainable solid waste management and disposal. This report is presented in reference to this hierarchy. For the specific purpose of this study, “Unsanitary Landfilling and Open Burning” has been added to the original hierarchy of waste management which ends with sanitary landfills (SLFs). Unsanitary landfilling and open burning will represent the indiscriminate dumping and burning of MSW and represents the general situation of SWM in India and other developing countries.
Figure 10, The Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management for India and Other Developing Nations
The hierarchy of waste management recognizes that reducing the use of materials and reusing them to be the most environmental friendly. Source reduction begins with reducing the amount of waste generated and reusing materials to prevent them from entering the waste stream (15). Thus, waste is not generated until the end of “reuse” phase.

Recognition and Integration of the Informal Sector in India

1. Organizing the Informal Sector
2. Public Policy
3. Integrating the Informal Sector into Formal SWM Systems
4. Change in Perception

1. Organizing the Informal Sector
The informal recycling sector in India is in fact well-structured and has a huge presence, especially in mega cities. This sector is responsible for the recycling of around 70% of plastic waste (37) and up to 56% of all recyclable waste generated in India. On the basis of all information collected during this visit, the author estimates that the informal sector recycles about 10 million tons of recyclable waste per year.

A women waste-picker employed at a composting facility to separate recyclables from the MSW

The high percentage of recycling the informal sector is able to achieve is the cumulative effort of large numbers of WPs on the streets, at the bins and dumpsites. For example, the informal sector in Delhi employs about 150,000 people who are 0.9 % of the population of Delhi (16.75 million) (3) (33) (39).

Informal Recycling Sector - Inadequacy, Unpredictability and Health

1. Inadequacy and Unpredictability
2. Hurdles in Organizing Waste Pickers
3. Health Risk Assessment of Waste-Pickers

1. Inadequacy and Unpredictability
The existence of the informal recycling sector in Indian cities is useful to municipal corporations and beneficial to the community and environment. However, at the same time waste pickers are known to burn wastes at landfills (38) in order to recover metals or to keep warm at night. Open burning of wastes by waste-pickers and other people in addition to intentionally or accidentally set landfill fires are a major source of air pollution in Indian cities, emitting particulates, carbon monoxide and organic compounds including toxic dioxins (5). Waste-pickers are constantly exposed to emissions, have unhealthy living conditions and are prone to injuries and diseases, all of which decrease their overall life expectancy. The ill-health of waste pickers is a public health problem and even though they are generally not in contact with the public, it poses a threat to the overall health of the community.
Informal recycling is only a part of the solution to the SWM crisis in India.

Informal Recycling - Benefits to Community and the Environment

1. Community Gain and Cheap Service
2. Environmental Gain and Carbon Offsets

1. Community Gain and Cheap Service

Waste-pickers and scrap-dealers provide a low-cost service to the community. In Delhi, the informal sector collects and transports about 1,088 TPD of recyclables (33) which would otherwise be the responsibility of the municipality. In doing so, they save $ 17.8 million (INR 795 million) per year in collection and transportation costs to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) (33) (34) (35). Similarly, a study named “Recycling Livelihoods”, made by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, earlier GTZ), SNDT Women’s University and Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group (Chintan) has found that, the informal sector effectively subsidizes the formal waste sector to the extent of USD 4.08 million (INR 200.6 million) per year in waste handling costs in Pune city (36).
Figure 25, Secondary Separation of Waste Paper at a Bulk Waste Paper Dealer Shop
In addition to subsidizing the formal sector and in turn the tax payer’s money, the informal sector also provides an essential service to the community by clearing the streets off waste and augments the collection efficiency of formal systems. The informal recycling sector in Pune is known to handle up to one-thirds of the MSW handled by the formal system (36).

Recycling in India - The Informal Sector

1. Box, Informal waste management in India and elsewhere
2. Recycling in India
3. Recycling Percentage

1. Informal Waste Management in India and elsewhere (36)
The informal recycling sector in India and elsewhere
1.      supplements the formal system and subsidizes it in financial terms
2.      provides employment to a significant proportion of the population
3.      operates competitively and with high levels of efficiency
4.      operates profitably generating surplus
5.      links up with formal economy at some point in the recycling chain
6.      Offsets carbon emissions by making recycling possible and thus reducing the extraction and use of virgin raw materials

Figure 21, First Stage of Separation of Recyclables into Plastics, Metals and Glass, after Collection by Waste Pickers

2. Recycling in India
Recycling of resources from MSW in India is mostly undertaken by the informal sector. The formal recycling set-up in India in a minor fraction and is only in its initial stages, experimenting different models. Informal recycling in developing nations like India is a consequence of the increased gap in waste service provision (16) and the resultant ease of access to secondary raw materials which have immediate economic value.

Jan 21, 2012

Composition of Indian Urban Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

1. Composition of MSW
2. Composition of Recyclables and Informal Recycling

1. Composition of MSW
A major fraction of urban MSW in India is organic matter (51%). Recyclables are 17.5 % of the MSW and the rest 31% is inert waste. The average calorific value of urban MSW is 7.3 MJ/kg (1,751 Kcal/kg) and the average moisture content is 47% (Table 6). It has to be understood that this composition is at the dump and not the composition of the waste generated. The actual percentage of recyclables discarded as waste in India is unknown due to informal picking of waste which is generally not accounted. Accounting wastes collected informally will change the composition of MSW considerably and help estimating the total waste generated by communities.

Need for a Research BLOG

Information about all aspects of waste management should be laid out for the Citizens of India to make informed decisions. Public knowledge sphere holds enormous quantities of misinformation, which is easily available. It is due to such information or a lack of any information that some environmental initiatives are opposed or are not welcome. Academic research helps clear some of that fog. However, it is necessary that academic research finds easier ways to create awareness, because awareness inspires action. Most environmental movements in the world happen at the grassroots level fuelled by general observations and research findings. Environmental regulations in United States and the MSW rules 2000 in India are some examples of the results of public awareness.

Figure 39, Internet Search for "Solid Waste Management", Source: Google Trends

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).

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

1. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
2. Solid Waste Management (SWM)

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
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).


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