Risk Factors Associated with Solid Waste Treatment

Abstract

Asit Nema Foundation for Greentech Environmental Systems G-178, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi, India 110 076 ABSTRACT There are close to 5100 odd municipalities across India wherein the problem of municipal solid waste (MSW) management has reached critical dimensions. It is estimated that 285 million urban population in India (≈ 28% of the total population) is generating almost 120,000 MT/d of MSW. The urban local bodies (ULBs) in their efforts to safeguard public health are incurring between Rs. 800-1500/MT of solid waste for collection, treatment and disposal and this activity alone accounts for almost 3050% of a typical municipal budget. There are significant issues related to primary collection, transportation, treatment and safe disposal which impact sustainability and viability of the entire chain of operations. A number of ULBs have gone about setting up treatment plants under the paradigm of ‘waste to energy’ and ‘waste to wealth’ with the presumption of that being an end in itself. The paradigm of ‘safeguarding environment and public health’ is often found to be relegated to a secondary level. In most cases, decisions to set up a particular technology solution also appear to have been influenced by other factors. The technologies that have been attempted in India during last 3 decades are windrow composting, mass burn, combustion of refuse derived fuel, biomethanation, and at a small scale numerous vermicomposting initiatives. However, time and again it is seen that the technology driven initiatives run into rough terrain and perforce do not bring the desired environmental and public health benefits, least of all the financial benefits. A number of institutional, technical and financial risk factors are associated with almost all the resource recovery technologies mentioned above which lead to closure of the facilities within a rather short period after commissioning.

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