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Solid Waste Management

Solid Waste Management

UPSC CSE – SYLLABUS: GENERAL STUDIES-3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Solid Waste Management

  • The second largest populated country in the world, India faces various hindrances to its development. Solid Waste Management is of critical concern and needs attention. 
  • The major problems affecting solid waste management are unscientific treatment, improper collection of waste, and ethical problems. This in turn leads to hazards like environmental degradation, water pollution, soil pollution, and air pollution.
  • New and scientific methods of managing solid waste is needed.

Issues in India:

  •  With rapid urbanisation, the country is facing massive waste management challenge.
  •  Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum.
  •  Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites.
  •  Solid Waste Management (SWM) is one among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centres clean.
  •  However, almost all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dumpyard within or outside the city haphazardly.
  •  Experts believe that India is following a flawed system of waste disposal and management.

What is needed:

  • Micro-planning of collection vehicle routes manned by municipal staff, and tracking their punctuality and performance, is also key to citizen cooperation
  • Vellore city in Tamil Nadu, with a population of five lakh, has been a trailblazer in decentralised management of solid waste and sending no waste to landfills. 
  • More recently, it has earned the remarkable distinction of getting all its residents to separate their wet waste from dry waste, which makes the task of solid waste management so much easier for the municipal corporation. This should be followed by other major cities.
  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) recently notified the new Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016.
  • The new rules have mandated the source segregation of waste in order to channelise the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle. Waste generators would now have to now segregate waste into three streams- Biodegradables, Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, Wood, etc.) and Domestic Hazardous waste.
  • There is a poor implementation of segregation in major cities which makes it difficult for recycling.
  •  The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source and to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery.
  •  Then reduced final residue is then deposited scientifically in sanitary landfills.
  •  Sanitary landfills are the ultimate means of disposal for unutilised municipal solid waste from waste processing facilities and other types of inorganic waste that cannot be reused or recycled.
  •  Major limitation of this method is the costly transportation of MSW to far away landfill sites.
  • Institutional generators, market associations, event organisers and hotels and restaurants have been directly made responsible for segregation and sorting the waste and manage in partnership with local bodies. This should be strictly implemented.
  • Further, bio-composting and incineration – converting waste to energy is needed.
  • Recycling should be followed with parallel emphasis on source segregation and quality-cost ratio control.



Improper solid waste management has been a problem in India. Suggest credible measures needed to provide a proper solid waste management.