Waste Management

Read our substantive coverage of urban waste management policy and practice to know more about waste segregation, reduction and recycling of waste, avoidance and management of plastic waste etc. Assess the efficacy of government policies such as waste to energy plants and stay informed about alternative solutions such as composting and zero waste initiatives. Case studies on successful and effective waste management at a local level, through a combination of citizen action and government policy, inspire readers and provide practical tips.

Chennai generates as much as 6,300 metric tonnes of garbage every day. Of this, 60% of the waste is biodegradable — which means that if we segregate the waste properly at source this 60% could be prevented from going to the landfills and eventually turning into legacy waste. Like any other metro city, Chennai also faces many challenges in the management of solid waste. The first part of this series delved into the challenges that Chennai faces in segregating waste at source. In the second part, Dr J Radhakrishnan, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner, talks to Citizen Matters about various issues…

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Vasanthi Kannan resides in a Kodambakkam apartment complex with eight units. She has spent nearly three decades as a civic activist, tirelessly advocating for household waste segregation. Despite her efforts, she remains the sole resident in her building, who segregates waste, before handing it over to the sanitation workers. In Pulianthope, a locality with 2,000 households, adherence was the issue. "The government distributed two bins to every household in 2020 and asked the residents to segregate the waste before handing it to sanitation workers. Initially, there was some compliance, but without strict enforcement, the initiative failed," says Selavaraj M, Founder…

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27-year-old Salma was a  waste picker at the Ghazipur landfill before she came to Gulmeher, a social enterprise established in 2013 that aims to provide an alternative livelihood to women waste pickers in that area. They train these women to create eco-friendly products using discarded flowers, fabric waste and recycled paper. Till date, Gulmeher has already re-used around 15 tons of discarded flowers and more than two tons of fabric waste.  Salma, donning a red dupatta, smiles as she meticulously picks broken flower petals with a brush, pasting it on a diary before her. It has taken her long to…

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In 2012, Delhi inaugurated its first waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, marking the commencement of electricity generation at the Jindal group-owned Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Company. Despite several petitions being filed against it in courts, the plant, located in the midst of densely populated residential colonies in Okhla, continues to operate amidst much controversy. One of these colonies is South Delhi’s Haji Colony. In the latter’s backyard, the WTE plant is brazenly expanding at the expense of the well being of thousands of people, who have been living in that area for years.  Robbed of the comforts of home The plant is merely…

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Taking morning walks and evening strolls on the beach shore near the Arupadai Veedu Murugan temple in Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar used to be an enjoyable experience. But, it is not so anymore. In the last two years, this stretch of the seashore has gradually deteriorated because of open defection, indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste and construction debris, and other illegal activities. This has not just made the beach filthy, but also unsafe. Residents living nearby (Besant Nagar, Ward 179) have stopped frequenting this stretch, owing to a lack of patrolling. However, the situation worsened about six months ago, when…

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Chennai generates about 6,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. As the city's population continues to grow, waste generation is expected to increase even more. Not to mention the huge quantities of legacy waste currently accumulating in the Kodungaiyur and Perungudi dump yards. How will the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) effectively manage these vast amounts of waste? As this is a common urban issue, the government has proposed a solution already implemented in several other Indian cities. It suggests establishing an integrated waste management project facility, including a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant. It would come up in the North Chennai region,…

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The peepal (Ficus Religiosa) and banyan (Ficus Benghalensis) trees, both members of the Moraceae family, often have raised platforms around them for people to sit and rest under their cool shade. These trees are commonly found near temples and lakes. Believers sometimes place their religious waste under these trees. These include posters, paintings, idols of gods, pictures of ancestors, religious scriptures, clothes that have been used for prayer rituals, disused lamps etc. I spoke to my friend Ashwini who has some knowledge of the scriptures. She chanted a shloka in response to my question. mūlato brahmarūpāya madhyato viṣṇurūpiṇe .agrataḥ śivarūpāya…

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When I grew up in my home state, Ajmer, Rajasthan, I used to go to my grandparent’s place, a small town in Rajasthan, during summer vacations in the 1990s. This place was self- sufficient at waste disposal as I would think most of India was at that time. There were no plastic bags, plastic bottles, single use plastic cups, cutlery etc. Whatever little waste that was generated in the kitchen was diligently put in a street sink— a big stone bowl where people can throw their kitchen wet waste for cattle to eat or drink from. The cows would come…

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The garbage issue is escalating into a nightmare for residents of Ilyas Nagar, a residential locality in south Bengaluru's Yelachenahalli.  As you take a left turn from the Outer Ring Road to enter the BWSSB Pipeline Road, which connects 100 feet Ring Road, just a few metres inside, you will see a garbage dump along the roadside. And as you move ahead, 50 metres from Razor King saloon, you can see another bigger garbage dump. Despite garbage vans coming to their doorstep, some residents choose to dump waste along the side of the BWSSB Pipeline Road.  The road is poorly…

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'Galli Number 4', Seelampur in New Delhi is well-known for being India's largest e-waste market. Birds fly over a sprawling stream of dirty, black water overflowing with a deluge of plastic, and metallic waste. Children sift through the refuse with their small hands delicately exploring the piles of garbage hoping to find something of worth that could fetch them a few rupees.  Narrow lanes and footpaths are riddled with discarded mobile phones, defunct computer supplements, broken guts of a circuit board, cuts of optical fibres, and various other dead and rejected electronics.  This suburb in Shahadara district of east Delhi,…

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