Solid Waste Management E-Waste Management Treatments Methods for Waste Management

India has emerged as the world’s fifth largest electronic waste (e-waste) producer. India discards roughly 18.5 lakh tonnes of e-waste each year and telecom equipment alone accounts for 12% of it.


Wastes are materials which are discarded after use at the end of their intended life-span. Waste management is a collective activity involving segregation, collection, transportation, re-processing, recycling and disposal of various types of wastes. Waste management differs for different types of wastes and for wastes in different geographical locations such as urban, rural and hilly areas.

While the management of non-hazardous domestic waste is the joint responsibility of the citizens and the local government, the management of commercial, industrial and hazardous waste is the responsibility of the waste generators like commercial establishments, healthcare establishments, industries and the pollution control boards.

Sustainable waste management can be achieved through strategic planning, institutional capacity building, fiscal incentives, techno-economically viable technologies, public-private partnerships, community participation and such others.



Rapid industrialization and population explosion in India has led to the migration of people from villages to cities, which generate thousands of tons of MSW daily. The MSW amount is expected to increase significantly in the near future as the country strives to attain an industrialized nation status by the year 2020.


The quantity of waste generated in Indian cities reported to be in the range of 0.2-0.6 kg/capita /day as per the “Manual on Solid Waste Management” prepared by Central Public Health & Environment Engineering Organization (CPHEEO), Ministry of Urban Development, and Government of India.


The Waste Generation pattern is very much dependent on the living style of the population. As the major share of the population is labour force in Dibang, the waste generation factor of 0.3 kg/capita/day has been taken into consideration.


Solid waste management consists:

  • Municipal waste: Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) or Urban Solid Waste is a waste that includes predominantly household waste (domestic waste) with sometimes the addition of commercial wastes, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue, and waste from streets , institutes such as hospitals, collected by a municipality within a given area. They are in either solid or semisolid form and generally exclude industrial hazardous wastes.
  • Electronic waste: Electronic metal waste, printed circuits boards, e-equipment’s, machinery, IC, Sockets connections etc.
  • Biomedical waste: Hospitals generate various kinds of wastes from wards, operation theatres and outpatient areas. These wastes include bandages, cotton, soiled linen, body parts, sharps (needle, syringes etc), medicines (discarded or expired), laboratory wastes etc which carry infection and should be properly collected, segregated, stored, transported, treated and disposed to prevent contamination and infection.


India generates a huge quantity of Bio Medical Waste (BMW) every year. Almost 28% of the wastes is left untreated and not disposed finding its way in dumps or water bodies and re-enters our system.


Following are the major sources of generation of waste at urban level:

  • Solid waste from Residential areas, Institutional/ Community areas
  • Solid waste from vegetables markets (retail and wholesale)
  • Solid waste from Hotels, and restaurants
  • Solid waste from commercial areas
  • Biomedical waste from hospitals and dispensaries
  • Waste from domestic / stray animals /dairies
  • Solid waste from Industries
  • Waste from street cleansing


Solid waste management includes the entire process of dealing with solid waste, starting from the collection from the primary source to ultimately disposing off it hygienically, so that it may not be a nuisance or create any harmful effect on nearby community.

The solid waste management involves- management at waste generation level, storage at the source of generation, primary collection, street cleansing, temporary storage at locality level, regular and periodic transportation of this temporarily collected waste to disposing sites and treatment plants.


Issues in solid waste management in India:

  • In most of the cities in India, the scientific and systematic storage of waste at source is not in practice.
  • The waste is normally thrown in nearby vacant areas, government vacant land, drains, streets etc.
  • Because of waste thrown on the street the environment becomes ugly and unhygienic , so even in case of regular cleaning be Municipal Workers also, the city cannot be kept clean for more than 2-3 hours .
  • At sources people generally don’t arrange to provide proper dustbins, in residential, institutional and commercial areas.
  • In case of open drains and large drains passing across the city, people throw waste and these drains are clogged, width of large drains is reduced because of continuous dumping.
  • People generally use following items to collect waste at source: buckets, polythene packets, plastic bins, metal bins with and without lids.
  • People generally don’t take the waste to the designated points they carry it to nearby roads, railway tracks, open plots etc and generally people avoid walking to the designated disposal points.
  • So when wind blows the heap of solid waste get carried away by wind and spread in large areas and when there are rain the problem get aggravated.
  • There is no system of keeping the Bio degradable and non-Bio degradable waste separately. No processing of the waste is done in most cities. Very few cities have the organizational and administrative set – up to subject the waste to treatment process like composting and that too on a very limited scale. Most of the wastes are disposed by the concerned agency at an open dump without going in to the details of either site or wastes. There is no adherence to any standards or norms for disposal and the sites are not scientifically managed.

The land filling practice in most Indian cities is one of the most unscientific and unhygienic practices with serious environmental implications. The wastes are brought to the site and dumped. There is no consideration for leach ate gases and cove. The land fill sites are mostly accessible to scavengers, animals and vectors.

  • Sweepers generally restrict themselves only to the sweeping of the streets and cleaning of drains.
  • Sweepers avoid door stop collection of wastes in some areas; private sweepers collect the waste and deposit it to the collection points.
  • Municipal manpower and financial resources are very less contextual to the gravity of problem, and available resources are not properly used.



  1. Possible Waste Management Options:

(a) Waste Minimization construction waste recycling

(b) Material Recycling

(c) Waste Processing (Resource Recovery)

(d) Waste Transformation

(e) Sanitary Landfilling – Limited land availability is a constraint in Metro cities.


  1. Processing / Treatment should be:

(i) Technically sound

(ii) Financially viable

(iii) Eco-friendly / Environmental friendly

(iv) Robust operate & maintain by local community

(v) Long term sustainability


E-waste has been defined as “waste electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part or rejects from their manufacturing and repair process, which are intended to be discarded”.


What is E-waste?

Electronic waste (e-waste) comprises waste electronics/electrical goods that are not fit for their originally intended use or have reached their end of life. This may include items such as computers, servers, mainframes, monitors, CDs, printers, scanners, copiers, calculators, fax machines, battery cells, cellular phones, transceivers, TVs, medical apparatus and electronic components besides white goods such as refrigerators and air-conditioners. E-waste contains valuable materials such as copper, silver, gold and platinum which could be processed for their recovery.


E-waste concerns and challenges:

  • Accurate figures not available for rapidly increasing e-waste volumes—generated domestically and by imports.
  • Low level of awareness among manufacturers and consumers of the hazards of incorrect e-waste disposal.
  • No accurate estimates of the quantity of e-waste generated and recycled available in India.
  • Major portion of e-waste is processed by the informal (unorganized) sector using rudimentary techniques such as acid leaching and open-air burning, which results in severe environmental damage
  • E-waste workers have little or no knowledge of toxins in e-waste and are exposed to health hazards.
  • High-risk backyard recycling operations impact vulnerable social groups like women, children and immigrant laborer’s.
  • Inefficient recycling processes result in substantial losses of material value and resources.
  • Cherry-picking by recycler’s who recover precious metals (gold, platinum, silver, copper, etc) and improperly dispose of the rest, posing environmental hazards.

The environmental impact of the processing of different electronic waste components:



  • The concern of rising levels of e-waste generation in India in recent years. India being world’s second largest mobile market with 1.03 billion subscribers, nearly 25% of it end up in e-waste annually.
  • The unorganized sector in India is estimated to handle around 95% of the e-waste produced in the country.
  • E-waste collection targets implemented in a phased manner under the current policy should set lower and practically achievable target limits. Also, detailed implementation procedures for collection of e-waste from the market need should be prescribed and followed.
  • Current Policy on e-waste management The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified e-waste management rules, 2016. These rules for the first time have time covered under extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) of electronics producers.
  • It has prescribed a waste collection target of 305 e-waste generated under EPR for the first two years (till 2016) and it will progressively go up to 70% in the seventh year of the rule. These rules also have prescribed stringent financial penalties for non-compliance.
  • Technology currently used in India:

– Decontamination

– Dismantling

– Pulverization/ Hammering

– Density separation on using water



Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken a number of steps to ensure environmentally sound management of e-waste in the country. These include:

  1. E-Waste Recycling:
  • E-waste recycling can be undertaken only in facilities authorized and registered with State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees. Waste generated is required to be sent or sold to a registered or authorized recycler or re-processor having environmentally sound facilities.
  • The Ministry is implementing a Scheme to provide financial assistance for setting up of treatment, disposal and storage facility for hazardous and integrated recycling facilities for E-waste on public private partnership mode.
  • So far, throw money & ship to developing country to dump e-waste has been shipped to developing countries where this poses dangers as it is handled by informal sector.
  1. (Management, Handling and Trans Boundary Movement) Rules, 2008:
  • Import of such wastes for disposal is not permitted except for recycling by the registered units only and with the permission of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and/or Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
  • For effective implementation of provisions related to import and export, a coordination committee including representatives from revenue department, DGFT, ministry of shipping, Central Pollution Control Board has been constituted.
  • This committee has been working to sensitize the customs authorities regarding enforcement of these rules in order to check illegal import of e-waste into the country.
  1. (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011:
  • The concept of extended producer responsibility has been enshrined in these rules to make it a mandatory activity for the manufacturers of electronic and electrical equipment’s.
  • Under this the producers are responsible for collection of e-waste generated from the end of life of their products by setting up collection centers. The concept originated in Switzerland
  • E-waste recycling can be undertaken only in authorized facilities. Government has started a scheme to provide financial assistance for setting up of treatment plants in PPP mode.

Subsequently, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Research (EMPA) started to implement its global programme ‘Knowledge Partnerships in e-waste Recycling.

Combining the knowledge and technical expertise of EMPA on e-waste management, coupled with the field experience of the Indo-German projects in managing hazardous waste in India, the Indo-German-Swiss e-waste initiative was born in 2004.


The vision of this initiative is to establish a clean e-waste channel that is a:

  • Convenient collection and disposal system for large and small consumer’s to return all their e-waste safely.
  • Voluntary system for modern and concerned producer’s to care for their product beyond its useful life.
  • Financially secure system that makes environmentally and socially responsible e-waste recycling viable.

The objectives of the initiative are:

  • Reduce the risks to the population and the pollution of the environment resulting from unsafe handling.
  • Focus on knowledge transfer to and skills upgrade of all involved stakeholders through trainings and seminars.
  • Target mainly the existing informal recyclers allowing for their maximum but safe participation in future e-waste management by facilitating their evolution and integration in formal structures.

Listed the following legislations that cover different aspects of e-waste:

  • The hazardous waste (management and handling) rules, 1998 as amended in 2008 for toxic content— registration mandatory for recyclers.
  • Municipal solid waste management and handling rules for non-toxic content.
  • Basel convention for regulating trans-boundary movement.
  • Foreign trade policy, which restricts import of second-hand computers and does not permit import of e-waste.
  • Guidelines by Central Pollution Control Board (2008).

Way forward:

  • In just over a decade, India will have on its hands a whopping 130 million obsolete desktop computers and 900 million laptops to dispose of. Besides the sheer volume of non-biodegradable material this entails, e-waste involves distinctly hazardous substances such as cadmium, mercury, lead, arsenic and a blend of plastics that are difficult to remove from the environment. A yawning gap exists already between the e-waste generated in India and its capacity to deal with it. No more than 16 formal e-waste recycling companies exist, with a total installed recycling capacity of just 66,000 metric tonnes, which takes care of less than 10 per cent of the total e-waste produced in the country.
  • While disposal protocols must necessarily be rigorous for e-waste, much of this toxic material is handled and recycled by the unorganised sector, with serious implications for human and environmental health.
  • This assessment aims to serve as a guideline to waste management authorities as they plan facilities to collect, recycle and dispose of e-waste, of which computers account for just a third of the quantum. A recycling capacity for 1030 million obsolete PCs is planned by 2025.

Treatment Methods for Waste Management

  • Landfill:

This method involves burying off the waste. These landfills are quite often conventional with deserted and vacant locations around the cities. In case, landfills or borrow pits are designed carefully they can serve as economical and quite sanitized method for waste dumping. However, not much effectively designed and older landfills can cost a big amount to the government not just in terms of money but also in the environmental and health issues. Apart from the poorly designed landfills, wind-blown debris and generation of liquid can also cause production of gas, which is extremely hazardous. This gas can be a reason for production of odor, killing surface vegetation and greenhouse effects.

  • Incineration:

This is the dumping off method, which involves combustion for waste materials. This sort of dumping off for waste materials through incineration and temperature is known as “thermal treatment”. This method is utilized to convert waste materials in to gas, heat, ash and steam.

Incineration is conducted on both individual and industrial scale. This method is used for disposing off all sorts of matters. This generally is the most recognized practical method for disposing off perilous material. This however, is the conflict-ridden method for it causes the emission of perilous gases.

  • Biological reprocessing:

Waste materials, which come in organic nature, are treated through biological reprocessing. The waste materials with organic nature are plant, food and paper products. This reprocessing or recycling of this organic matter is put to biological decomposition which later if recycled in form of mulch or compost for landscaping and agricultural purposes. Additionally, the waste gas, which is collected from the process, is used for the production of electricity. The goal behind biological reprocessing is to control and speed up the natural decomposition for organic matter.

A numerous sort of composting techniques and methods for digestion are employed depending upon the requirement as if digestion is required for household heaps or industrial materials. There are diverse methods for biological reprocessing like anaerobic and aerobic techniques.

  • Recovery of Energy:

Waste materials can directly be combusted for the generation of energy as fuel or other method, indirect combustion can also be adopted for energy generation.

– Thermal treatment for recycling purpose included burning of waste for the generation of energy used for household purpose i.e. cooking and heating while the energy from recycling can also be produced at industrial level from boilers.

– Among thermal treatments you have two related kinds i.e. Pyrolysis and gasification. In these sorts of methods, materials are heated with little supply of oxygen at high temperature. This process is conducted in sealed vessels with high pressure.

– In Pyrolysis, the solid is converted in to liquid state and liquid is converted in to gas. These products of treatment can then be used for the production of energy. The residue that is left behind is generally known as “char”, which is further treated for the production of more useable products.

– In Gasification however, the material to be treated is directly converted in to SynGas (synthetic gas) which has hydrogen and carbon dioxide as its components.

  • Composting:

Composting is an easy and natural bio-degradation process that takes organic wastes i.e. remains of plants and garden and kitchen waste and turns into nutrient rich food for your plants. Composting, normally used for organic farming, occurs by allowing organic materials to sit in one place for months until microbes decompose it. Composting is one of the best method of waste disposal as it can turn unsafe organic products into safe compost. On the other side, it is slow process and takes lot of space.

  • Waste to Energy (Recover Energy):

Waste to energy (WtE) process involves converting of non-recyclable waste items into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes. This type of source of energy is a renewable energy source as non-recyclable waste can be used over and over again to create energy. It can also help to reduce carbon emissions by offsetting the need for energy from fossil sources. Waste-to-Energy, also widely recognized by its acronym WtE is the generation of energy in the form of heat or electricity from waste.

  • Avoidance/Waste Minimization:

The easier method of waste management is to reduce creation of waste materials thereby reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. Waste reduction can be done through recycling old materials like jar, bags, repairing broken items instead of buying new one, avoiding use of disposable products like plastic bags, reusing second hand items, and buying items that uses less designing.

Recycling and composting is a couple of the best methods of waste management. Composting is so far only possible on a small scale, either by private individuals or in areas where waste can be mixed with farming soil or used for landscaping purposes. Recycling is widely used around the world, with plastic, paper and metal leading the list of the most recyclable items. Most material recycled is reused for its original purpose.

Effects of poor waste disposal:




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