The kinds of solid waste that pose problems due to their sheer volumes include household waste, municipal waste, biomedical waste, e-waste, electronic and electrical equipment waste, construction waste, mining waste, power plant waste, hazardous waste, forestry waste, etc. The Environment Protection Act (EPA) of 1986, one of the first measures by the centre towards controlling the deterioration of the environment, is the main policy builder for managing solid waste. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has enacted numerous rules under the umbrella of the EPA in order to provide guidelines for waste management in the country.
Recycled Plastics Manufacture, Sale and Usage Rules of 1999 as amended in 2003
The non-degradable plastics form an integral part of every solid waste management discussion owing to their longevity and persistence in the environment. Landfills-being a primary way for plastic disposal- are becoming an obsolete method as the availability of space diminishes at an alarming rate. The above stated rules apply to every manufacturer, stockiest, distributor and seller of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic. Bags made of virgin plastic are in their natural shade or white colour while those made of recycled plastic are manufactured using pigments colorants. Recycled plastic cannot be used for storing, carrying, dispensing or packaging of foodstuff.
Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2011
According to an estimate by the Centre Pollution Control Board (CPCB) the plastic consumption in India is 8 million tonnes per annum and about 5.7 million tonnes of it ends up as waste. The informal waste recyclers of the country account for almost 70% of the recycling thereby withholding 56% of all the would-be-plastic-waste of the country. The plastic waste management rules of 2011 have specified the minimum thickness of plastic bags as to be of 40 microns as opposed to 20 microns (specified earlier by the rules of 1999). Carry bags made of compostable plastics need to be labelled as ‘recycled’ while those made by compostable material must be labelled as ‘compostable’. Sachets using plastic material cannot be used for storing, packaging or selling of tobacco or gutkha. Carry bags for consumers or co-retailers cannot be free of cost as it used to be prior to the introduction of these rules. State level advisories are created at each state level so as to co-ordinate and implement the plans of the centre.
Hazardous Waste Management
Almost 10-15% of the wastes produced by industries are hazardous in nature. Activities like mining, agriculture, industrial process of textile, petroleum processing and oil refining are major contributors to the hazardous waste that could be above 6.7 MT per year. In India unauthorized dumping of hazardous wastes has continued despite the existence of regulations against it. Very few industrial units in the country have proper waste disposal facilities for managing the toxicity levels of the waste that they generate. Hazardous Waste Rules of 1989 which was amended in 2000 and 2003 has 18 categories. The MoEF has detailed the disposal mechanisms such as physical, chemical treatments, landfill, biological treatment, incineration, recycling, recovering and solidification for hazardous wastes. The National Hazardous Waste Management Strategy deals with effective management of hazardous wastes to avoid environmental pollution call for appropriate strategy for regulatory bodies, generators, recyclers and operators.
Biomedical Waste Rules of 1998 amended in 2011
Prior to 1998, biomedical waste management fell under the municipal or government authorities in India. The wastes that include bandages, cotton, soiled linen, body parts, sharps, medicines and laboratory wastes are most environmentally sensitive by-products from hospitals and pharmaceuticals. An institution generating biomedical waste has to get authorization for handling such kind of waste from the concerned SPCB. Biomedical wastes must not be allowed to mix with other wastes and require segregation at the point of generation in accordance with standard procedures.
Municipal Solid Waste Rules of 2000
Nearly 55% of urban household waste is organic and another 15% is recyclable. But we are not recycling or composting to our full potential. Municipal administrations all over the country are generally in need of proper financial and technical abilities to provide appropriate services with respect to waste management. The difficulty in providing quality service is a persisting problem owing to lack of much needed finances.
Recently, keeping in view the obstacles in the face of municipal waste management, the MoEF has notified the new Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 which assigns responsibilities to all the consumers at different levels. Segregation of waste is required to be done at household levels which would be beneficial for evacuation of waste. The segregation will have to be done under three categories-wet, dry and hazardous. The new rules have also called for an integration of waste pickers and dealers by the State Governments. Waste Generators will have to pay a ‘User Fee’ to waste collectors and a ‘Spot Fine’ for littering and non-segregation.
The Logical Indian backs this new development to counter the ever growing problems posed by improper solid waste disposal. Also, new rules must be framed for other types of solid wastes that are generated in the country by tightening restrictions and specifications.