Is India turning into a big garbage dump?

By Dr. Mousmi Singh

Believe it or not, yes! Our country is slowly turning into a big garbage dump. We are facing a mounting problem of disposal of solid waste in our country. Until the 1990s, most of the waste was simply dumped in the open until the formulation of Solid Waste Management Rules,2000. Many Indian cities have still not learned to manage their solid waste. A new set of Solid Waste Management Rules have been enacted in 2016 to combat the issue. The Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 defines Solid Waste as “solid or semisolid, domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering, and market waste and other non-residential waste, street sweeping, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, horticulture waste, agricultural and dairy waste, treated biomedical waste, e-waste, battery waste, and radioactive waste.”
A glance at the Crisis – Mountain of TRASH- Ghazipur landfill in New Delhi is India’s highest rubbish mountain, spreading across an area of 70 acres. Along with the smell, smoke, and pollution, it is also the cause of many serious health issues for the people living in the vicinity.
E-rase the E-Waste – It is considered the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It is emerging as serious public health and environmental issue in India. Our country ranks 5th among E-waste producing countries. E-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment(WEEE) is created when an electronic product is discarded after the end of its useful life. The rapid expansion of technology and the consumption-driven society has resulted in the creation of a very large amount of this waste. Examples of E-waste include laptops, mobile phones, printers, microwaves, etc. Developing countries like India have become toxic dump yards of E-Waste. The release of toxic pollutants associated with crude e-waste recycling can have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. An expedient and prevalent method is simply to toss pieces of equipment onto the open fire to melt plastic and burn away non-valuable metals which in turn releases toxic fumes, carcinogens, and neurotoxins into the air leading to smog formation. Seelampur area in Delhi and Silicon Valley Bangalore are some examples where this has become a grave problem.
Say No to Plastic- our addiction to using plastic has resulted in catastrophic effects. Since plastic cannot be degraded or decomposed, it is harming our environment causing water pollution, and soil pollution, its burning causes air pollution and it chokes and suffocates animals and wildlife. Plastic is a global problem. It is both a super product and an ecological nightmare. It’s cheap, durable, and does not rot which makes it useful for food storage and shopping bags but it sticks around for hundreds of years. Single-use plastics or disposable plastics are commonly used for packaging. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an end to single-use plastics to protect the environment in 2019. The government has set an ambitious target to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. Since then, the center as well as various state governments have announced means to curb its use. Several states in India have already banned plastic bags. India has the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 and its amendments 2018 to treat and recycle plastic waste.
Extended Producer’s Responsibility According to Plastic Waste Rules (PWR), plastic manufacturers and retail establishments which use plastic are legally bound to collect plastic waste. These rules also mandate the responsibilities to local bodies, waste generators, Gram Panchayats, Plastic Retailers, etc. to manage plastic waste.
The Road to Glory – Plastic Road is an amazing idea! A most beneficial and much better way of disposing of plastic. An innovative method developed by Rajagopalan Vasudevan to reuse plastic waste to construct better, more durable, and very cost-effective roads. The first plastic road was laid down in Tamil Nadu, since then all major municipalities in India have made use of the technology including Pune, Mumbai, Surat, Indore, Delhi, Lucknow, etc.
Menstrual Waste disposal –an environmental crisis The sanitary pads commonly used by women contain super-absorbent polymers (SAP), which don’t decompose. They gradually break down into what are known as microplastics, which contaminate soil, water, and air. A single sanitary pad could take 500 to 800 years to decompose as the plastic used is non -biodegradable. Possible solutions include proper segregation and disposal, the use of organic, disposable, or cloth pads, and menstrual cups can also be an alternative.
Waste Segregation -A simple step that can help save our Planet. Waste segregation is the key to proper waste management. Segregation at the source not only improves collection efficiency but also leads to better processing of waste.
Think Clean Use Colour-Coded Bins- The use of color-coded bins for waste segregation is a great idea. Also segregating home waste into Dry and Wet waste bins can help in segregation. Eg. Green Dustbins for wet and biodegradable waste like kitchen waste including vegetables and fruit skin., Blue Dustbin for plastic wrappers and non-biodegradable waste, Yellow Dustbin for Glass items, etc
A pledge to follow the principle of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle-These small steps will make a big difference. Reduce means reduction in waste generation. For example, we can reduce the use of disposable goods like paper plates, Styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, paper napkins, etc. to help save the environment and trees. Reuse Example Newspaper can be reused as wrapping paper or as a packing material. Recycling refers to reprocessing of unwanted materials. into new and useful products.
The problem of environmental pollution due to improper waste disposal is grave and it needs to be addressed effectively. To end the menace of waste generation and disposal and the resulting pollution due to it, we need to rethink and readjust our ways. Let us make our Country, our Planet green and clean once again. Let’s Bring the Change, Let’s Be the Change!

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