What urban waste has to do with global warming {Environment}

Context

Recycling, composting and bio-methanation will not only make landfills unnecessary, they will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Issues

Greenhouse gases (GHGs)

These gases create a natural blanket around the Earth’s atmosphere by preventing some of the sun’s heat energy from radiating back into space, thus keeping the Earth warm. Over the last century-and-a-half, human activities have added considerably to GHGs in the atmosphere, and that continues to result in global warming.

How are GHGs formed?

Activities involved in the management of solid waste generate (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, methane, and small amounts of nitrous oxide. The global warming potential of methane is 25 times as much and nitrous oxide 298 times as much as that of carbon dioxide, over the long run (100 years).

Why does the problem arise?

We mix biodegradable waste with other waste at the point where waste is generated. This increases the volume that has to be transported as the waste is hauled all the way to the landfill sites. The increased fuel usage in transportation results in more emissions.

Problem reduction

The volume of waste sent to the landfill sites can be reduced if the biodegradable waste is processed locally through aerobic decomposition with the help of microbes or earthworms (vermicomposting) to produce compost or organic fertilizer. Compost helps store carbon back in the soil.
An alternative to composting for biodegradable waste is bio-methanation or anaerobic decomposition.

Bio methanation

Biomethanation generates biogas which is a substitute for fossil fuel and produces a slurry which is an excellent organic fertilizer, both helping to mitigate global warming. Local processing also means that bio-methanation saves on transportation.

Other possible solution

Recycling of waste also helps reduce GHG emissions because the energy required to manufacture a product using virgin materials is higher than when using recycled materials.
The non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste other than hazardous waste (batteries, CFLs, etc), can be converted into Refuse Derived Fuel for use in high-temperature furnaces, for example, in cement kilns and power plants.

Solid waste management

  • Solid waste management is a term that is used to refer to the process of collecting and treating solid wastes.
  • It also offers solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash. As long as people have been living in settlements and residential areas, garbage or solid waste has been an issue.
  • Waste management is all about how solid waste can be changed and used as a valuable resource.
    Solid waste management should be embraced by each and every household including the business owners across the world.
  • Industrialization has brought a lot of good things and bad things as well. One of the negative effects of industrialization is the creation of solid waste.

Sources of solid waste

  • Residences and homes
  • Industries
  • Commercial facilities and buildings
  • Institutional centers like schools, colleges, prisons, military barracks
  • Construction and Demolition Areas
  • Agriculture etc

Few key features of Solid Waste Management Rules (2016)

  • The source segregation of waste has been mandated to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle.
  • Responsibilities of Generators have been introduced to segregate waste in to three streams, Wet (Biodegradable), Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.) and handover segregated wastes to authorized rag-pickers or waste collectors or local bodies.
  • Integration of waste pickers/ ragpickers and waste dealers/ Kabadiwalas in the formal system should be done by State Governments, and Self Help Group, or any other group to be formed.
  • No person should throw, burn, or bury the solid waste generated by him, on streets, open public spaces outside his premises, or in the drain, or water bodies.
  • Generator will have to pay ‘User Fee’ to waste collector and for ‘Spot Fine’ for Littering and Non-segregation.
  • Used sanitary waste like diapers, sanitary pads should be wrapped securely in pouches provided by manufacturers or brand owners of these products or in a suitable wrapping material and shall place the same in the bin meant for dry waste / non- bio-degradable waste.
  • The concept of partnership in Swachh Bharat has been introduced. Bulk and institutional generators, market associations, event organizers and hotels and restaurants have been made directly responsible for segregation and sorting the waste and manage in partnership with local bodies.
  • All hotels and restaurants should segregate biodegradable waste and set up a system of collection or follow the system of collection set up by local body to ensure that such food waste is utilized for composting / biomethanation.
  • All Resident Welfare and market Associations, Gated communities and institution with an area >5,000 sq. m should segregate waste at source- in to valuable dry waste like plastic, tin, glass, paper, etc. and handover recyclable material to either the authorized waste pickers or the authorized recyclers, or to the urban local body.
  • The bio-degradable waste should be processed, treated and disposed of through composting or bio-methanation within the premises as far as possible. The residual waste shall be given to the waste collectors or agency as directed by the local authority.
  • New townships and Group Housing Societies have been made responsible to develop in-house waste handling and processing arrangements for bio-degradable waste.
  • Every street vendor should keep suitable containers for storage of waste generated during the course of his activity such as food waste, disposable plates, cups, cans, wrappers, coconut shells, leftover food, vegetables, fruits etc. and deposit such waste at waste storage depot or container or vehicle as notified by the local authority.
  • The developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, industrial park to earmark at least 5% of the total area of the plot or minimum 5 plots/ sheds for recovery and recycling facility.
  • All manufacturers of disposable products such as tin, glass, plastics packaging etc. or brand owners who introduce such products in the market shall provide necessary financial assistance to local authorities for the establishment of waste management system.
  • All such brand owners who sale or market their products in such packaging material which are non-biodegradable should put in place a system to collect back the packaging waste generated due to their production.
  • Manufacturers or Brand Owners or marketing companies of sanitary napkins and diapers should explore the possibility of using all recyclable materials in their products or they shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products.
  • All such manufacturers, brand owners or marketing companies should educate the masses for wrapping and disposal of their products.
  •  All industrial units using fuel and located within 100 km from a solid waste based RDF plant shall make arrangements within six months from the date of notification of these rules to replace at least 5 % of their fuel requirement by RDF so produced.
  • Non-recyclable waste having calorific value of 1500 K/cal/kg or more shall not be disposed of on landfills and shall only be utilized for generating energy either or through refuse derived fuel or by giving away as feed stock for preparing refuse derived fuel.
  • High calorific wastes shall be used for co-processing in cement or thermal power plants.
  • Construction and demolition waste should be stored, separately disposed off, as per the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016
  • Horticulture waste and garden waste generated from his premises should be disposed as per the directions of local authority.
  • An event, or gathering organiser of more than 100 persons at any licensed/ unlicensed place, should ensure segregation of waste at source and handing over of segregated waste to waste collector or agency, as specified by local authority.
  • Special provision for management of solid waste in hilly areas:- Construction of landfill on the hill shall be avoided. A transfer station at a suitable enclosed location shall be setup to collect residual waste from the processing facility and inert waste. Suitable land shall be identified in the plain areas, down the hill, within 25 kilometers for setting up sanitary landfill. The residual waste from the transfer station shall be disposed off at this sanitary landfill.
  • In case of non-availability of such land, efforts shall be made to set up regional sanitary landfill for the inert and residual waste.

Source: Indian Express

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