Waste Management

The phrase Singara Chennai has captured the imagination of many of us who have grown up in the city. I am one of many who have taken up the cause of improving Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Chennai. My key motivation to do so has been the desire to leave behind a beautiful, green and pristine city for the future generation without any filth, garbage or pollution. I have been a close observer of the SWM landscape in the city and the changes it has undergone in the past 20 years, ever since the first instance of roping in of…

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It is a promise all three parties in the fray made - clearing Delhi’s landfills, the three main sites being Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla. Now it has fallen on the winner of Delhi's municipal elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), to fulfil that promise. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has specifically promised to get the three landfill sites cleared over the next five years; the first one to be done by 2024. Waste management overall, not just clearing the landfills, had figured prominently in the manifestos of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress too. The latter had described the Ghazipur…

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The usual suspects blamed for plastic pollution are littering, slums and a dysfunctional garbage collection system. But contrary to popular belief, even when waste makes it to landfills, it's not all that secure. Pollution from landfills accounts for 45% of the plastic - a whopping 4.1 million metric tonnes in 2015 - lost in the environment.  Mumbai's landfills are terrible offenders. A recent study, titled 'Risk of plastics losses to the environment from Indian landfills', and published in the Elsevier Journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling assessed the risk of plastic pollution posed by landfills in 496 urban Indian cities.  Mumbai topped the charts.…

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Indore city has been declared the cleanest city in India for the 6th time in a row in the recently announced Swachh Survekshan 2022 results. Indore has consistently performed well in the Swachh Survekshan survey since 2017 due to its integrated approach to solid waste management and efficient waste processing. The city, with a population of nearly 2 million, generates about 1,900 tonnes of solid waste per day. The Indore Municipal Corporation has successfully integrated the collection, transportation, processing and disposal of solid waste generated in the city.  What made this feat possible is the rigorous waste management system Indore…

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In 2019, Mehndi and Pooja, as part of their low waste journey from the हम Prithvi से, a social enterprise, visited a doctor practising near the Deonar dumping ground in Govandi. While it was known that the lives of people living around the dumping ground are poor, what they heard was quite heartbreaking. The doctor had been practising there for over a decade. He mentioned that he observed a rise in cases related to air pollution in the past few years. The reason is the rising quantity of dumped waste around and the toxic fumes from the hazardous waste especially after being…

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"Would this natural cleaner be as effective as the synthetic ones?" This is a question that dominates the minds of those who consider bio enzyme solutions for cleaning for the first time. The doubt, however, does not last long. More and more Chennaiites have begun cleaning with bio enzyme cleaners, which are organic solutions made from fruits and vegetables, and can be used to clean surfaces and wash clothes and dishes and also for personal use. "We have stopped using synthetic chemical solutions to clean now", says Kalpana Manivannan, an urban farmer who swears by natural cleaners for all household…

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An often overlooked link in the entire waste segregation and management chain is the dry waste segregation centre (DWSC). Mumbai has 46 of them — of varying sizes and capacities — spread across the 24 wards of the city. They serve as the heart of decentralised waste management; collecting waste from houses across the city, clubbing and sorting them and finally, sending it for recycling.  In Mumbai, the centres work in partnership with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and organisations involved in waste management. The BMC provides the space and vehicles for the centre. An NGO then takes over, overseeing the dry…

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Are you a Mumbaikar practising waste segregation by separating your waste into dry and wet waste? Perhaps you even go a step ahead and dutifully put aside your sanitary, hazardous and e-waste. You might have made it a habit of handing over the compartmentalised waste to the housekeeping staff of your housing society every morning like clockwork. But what happens after you shut the door? While your wet waste continues on towards its intended destination, the landfill, does your segregated dry waste successfully make it to recycling? Taking plastic as an indicator, 59%  of plastic waste generated in Maharashtra is diverted…

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A little girl came to the Thuli store looking for a bottle-green top to wear at the annual day function of her school. She found exactly what she was looking for in a matter of minutes, and free of cost. More importantly, she was able to save preowned clothing which would otherwise have found its way to a landfill. Every year, the fashion industries of the world produce 53 million tonnes of fibres, and less than 1% of it goes back to use, with more than 70% of fibres dumped in a landfill or incinerated. "Apart from filling up landfills,…

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"Most of the meat and fish vendors in Chennai use single-use plastic bags. But today, we have to hide it and use it," said Raman* the owner of a meat shop in Nesapakkam. The plastic ban has caused a major predicament among small vendors of meat and fish across Chennai. The Tamil Nadu government banned a list of single-use plastic items, including plastic bags of all sizes and thicknesses. The Greater Chennai Corporation has also announced that the shops violating the ban will be sealed and their licences cancelled. Almost 98% of people consume meat in Tamil Nadu, according to…

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