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Recent Laws for Solid Waste Management in India

Solid Waste Management

What is Solid Waste Management?

The system of collection, treatment, and disposal of discarded solid material which has served its purpose or is not useful anymore is Solid Waste Management. Improper disposal of solid waste results in unhygienic conditions which further leads to pollution in the environment. Such conditions are responsible for outbreaks of various diseases, and these conditions, in turn, can lead to pollution of the environment and outbreaks of vector-borne disease. Though the management of solid waste is considered to be essential for better living conditions it suffers lack of proper implementation. The rules regarding the same look good on paper but the execution of such rules and guidelines has been abysmal. The authorities responsible for it, suffer from administrative as well as economic problems which are essential to be solved. Every step taken in the direction is a step towards better living conditions and sanitary surroundings. The importance of Solid Waste Management is being realized by various NGOs which have been making the public aware of the part they may play and also encouraging the authorities to step up and perform their duties.

What are Sources of Solid Waste?

The lacunas seriously affect the health of humans, wildlife, and fauna. We all are aware of the consequences of the pollution of the water bodies and the air we breathe. The solid waste has way too many sources and each kind requires a different method of collection, treatment and finally disposal. Some common sources are:

  1. Residential: which includes food waste, leather, glass, metal, plastic, used oil, even old batteries and other electronics etc.
  2. Industrial: includes housekeeping wastes, packaging wastes, construction material and waste, medical waste etc; most of which are hazardous in nature.
  3. Commercial Units: it usually has a waste of both residential and industrial kind depending upon the area of operations.
  4. Institutional: this is from offices, education institutes.
  5. Construction and Demolition Areas: waste from construction, repair, and demolition is included in this like concrete, wood, copper wires and other metals, plastic, steel materials, glass etc
  6. Treatment Plants and Sites: Treatment plants, for example, water treatment plants etc; also produce waste which necessarily should be disposed of.
  7. Agriculture: Among the wastes they produce are pesticide containers, spoiled food, waste from the other products used etc.
  8. Biomedical: The waste generated from hospitals, biomedical equipment, and chemical manufacturing units which include syringes, bandages, used gloves, chemicals

What Are Laws For Solid Waste Management?

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000apply to every municipal authority which is responsible for ‘collection, segregation, storage, transportation, processing and disposal’ of municipal solid wastes. According to the Act, Municipal Solid Waste includes commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal or notified areas, in either solid or semi-solid form, including treated bio-medical wastes but excluding industrial hazardous wastes.

It has now been replaced by Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016. It has extended the jurisdiction of the act beyond ‘municipal area’ to cover the ever-growing limits of the development. The act is now applicable to

  1. every urban local body,
  2. Outgrowths in urban agglomerations,
  3. Census towns as declared by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India,
  4. Notified areas, notified industrial townships,
  5. Areas under the control of Indian Railways,
  6. Airports, airbases,
  7. Ports and harbors,
  8. Defense establishments,
  9. Special Economic Zones,
  10. State and Central government organizations,
  11. places of pilgrims, religious and historical importance as may be notified by the respective State government from time to time
  12. Every domestic, institutional, commercial and any other nonresidential solid waste generator situated in the areas;

Except for industrial waste, hazardous waste, hazardous chemicals, biomedical wastes, e-waste, lead-acid batteries and radioactive waste, that are covered under separate rules framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

This act is more elaborate and sets better guidelines for the authorities to follow.

According to the Act, ‘solid waste’now includes solid or semi-solid domestic waste, commercial waste, sanitary waste,catering and market waste, institutional waste and other non residential wastes, street sweepings, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, agriculture and dairy waste, horticulture waste, treated bio-medical waste (excluding industrial waste, bio-medical waste, and e-waste, battery waste, radioactive waste generated in the area under the local authorities and other entities according to the act)

What are Features Introduced in the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016?

The term ‘waste generator’:
It means and includes

  • every person,
  • group of persons,
  • every residential premise,
  • nonresidential establishments including Indian Railways, defense establishments;
  • Which generate solid waste?

Duties of waste generators are elaborated in the act. Every waste generator shall:

  1. segregate and store the waste generated categorized as –bio-degradable, nonbiodegradable and domestic hazardous wastes in suitable bins and handover segregated wastes to authorized waste pickers or waste collectors;
  2. wrap the used sanitary waste like diapers, sanitary pads etc. securely, in any suitable wrapping material and be placed in the dry waste/ non- bio-degradable waste bin;
  3. Construction and demolition waste and horticulture waste and garden waste shall be stored separately and be disposed of as per the directions Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016;
  • A waste generator shall not throw, bury or burn the solid waste generated by him, anywhere on the streets, open public spaces outside individual’s premises or in any drain or water body.
  • The organizer of an event or gathering of more than one hundred persons at any place must ensure segregation of waste at source and handing over of segregated waste to waste collector
  • A street vendor necessarily has to keep suitable containers for storage of waste generated during the course of his activity and must deposit such waste at waste storage depot or container or vehicle as per the notification of the local body.
  • all resident welfare associations, market associations, hotels and restaurants and gated communities and institutions with more than 5,000 sqm area should ensure segregation of waste at the source by the generators as per the rules, facilitate the collection of waste so collected, give recyclable material to either the authorized recycler or waste pickers. The bio-degradable waste must be treated and disposed of through proper methods.

The duty of manufacturers/brand owners of disposable products, sanitary napkins, and diapers as elaborated below:

  1. Manufacturer/ brand owners of disposable products (glass, tin, plastics, and packaging, etc) must assist the local authorities in the establishment of the waste management system.
  2. Such packaging material must be nonbiodegradable.
  3. a system to collect back the ‘packaged waste’ generated due to their products must be put in place.
  4. Manufacturers/ brand owners of sanitary napkins and diapers must consider the likelihood of using recyclable materials in their products and packaging or provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal
  5. Manufacturer/ brand owners and marketing companies require taking steps to educate the public about wrapping and disposal of their products.

Waste to energy process. The new act states that

  1. Nonrecyclable waste with 1500 K/cal/kg or more of calorific value must not be disposed of in landfills instead be utilized for generation of energy.
  2. High calorific wastes must be used for co-processing in thermal power plants or cement.
  3. The State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee, upon on receiving an application under the act for setting up waste to energy facility, must examine it and grant the required permission within 60 days.

Setting-­up solid waste processing and treatment facility

  • The department dealing with the allocation of land will provide a suitable land for setting a solid waste processing and treatment facility.
  • The facility will obtain necessary approvals from the prescribed authority. It shall be responsible for all the processing and treatment of the solid  waste
  • The operator of such facility must submit an annual report to the State Pollution ControlBoard/ Pollution Committee and Local authority.

Solid waste management in hilly areas: In addition to the general rules, some more provisions are given for hilly areas.

  • No construction of landfills on the hill. A transfer station at a suitable enclosed location must be set up to collect residual and inert waste.
  • A suitable Landis required being identified down the hill (within 25 km) for setting up a sanitary landfill in plains. The residual waste from the transfer station shall be disposed of at this sanitary landfill.
  • The local body must frame some bye-laws to prohibit the public from littering the streets.
  • Strict direction to the tourists must be provided to not dispose of any waste example- water bottles, liquor bottles, soft drink cans, paper, and tetra packs etc anywhere in the streets, instead dispose of it in the litter bins placed appropriately by the local authorities.
  • The local body may levy solid waste management charge on the tourist at the entry point
  • Any other steps that the local body deems necessary to make solid waste management sustainable must are taken up.
The revised act has laid down detailed duties for the various Ministries and officials which are not only elaborate but also are upgraded so as to meet the demands of the clean environment. The act provides duties of:
  • The Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers,
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India,
  • The Ministry of Power,
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources,
  • The Secretary–in-charge, Urban Development in the States and Union territories,
  • Central Pollution Control Board,
  • State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee
  • District Magistrate or District Collector or Deputy Commissioner,
  • The Secretary–in-charge of Village Panchayats or Rural Development Department in the State and Union territory, and
  • Local authorities and village Panchayats of census towns and urban agglomerations.
The act also provides for the Standards of processing and treatment of solid waste as namely:
  • Composting meaning a supervised process that involves microbial decomposition of organic matter.
  • Treated leachates that mean ‘liquid that seeps through solid wastes or other medium and has extracts of dissolved or suspended material from it’
  • Incineration meaning a supervised process that involves burning or combustion of solid waste to thermally degrade waste materials using high temperatures.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will be responsible for the overall supervision and implementation of these rules. A committee named: Central Monitoring Committee shall be constituted, functioning under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change comprising officer not below the rank of Advisor/ Joint Secretary from the various ministries and subject matter expert.

Narendra Kumar

Experienced Finance and Legal Professional with 12+ Years of Experience in Legal, Finance, Fintech, Blockchain, and Revenue Management.

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