What is Waste?
Waste is a very general word used to describe any material that is discarded because it has served its purpose and is no longer useful.
According to the Environment Protection Act, 1990, waste is defined as:
'Waste' is a matter, that
Classification of Wastes
Demand for goods is increasing day by day at a very fast rate due to rapid industralisation and population explosion. This, in turn, has resulted in an increase in the quantity and variety of waste generated.
Waste can be classified into the following categories:
Sources of Wastes
Need for Management of Waste
The problem with waste is that it remains in our environment. We move waste from one place to another but never get rid of it completely. Nature has recycled waste materials for millions of years. However, human population has increase so rapidly during the last century that the environment is now threatened by our activities and the waste they produce. This damage is done to the environment by the pollution of air, degradation of soils as rivers, lakes, etc.
Many scientists believe that if we do not learn to use our resources carefully and to reduce waste, we will not be able to survive. There is a close connection between waste, pollution and the damage to the environment. Waste causes pollution, which in turn causes the damage. Hence, there is an urgent need for management of waste.
The following dangers, posed by global pollution due to accumulation of wastes, threaten the survival of the ecosystem and call for the need to manage waste.
Legal provision for Handling and Management of Waste
Need for Legal provision
Environment degradation has assumed alarming proportions, threating the very existence of life on the earth. This dangerous situation is largely the result of human activities. The process of population explosion, heavy industralisation and growing urbanization has resulted in acute environmental problems in respect of air, water and noise pollution; soil erosion; water depletion; land degradation and degradation of forests; enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming, etc. Laws, in this regard, are the vital tools for protection, conservation and judicious use of resources.
In India, all the components of the environment have been considered as life support systems right from ancient times and their protection has been of paramount importance. In ancient days, population was limited and the living of the people was quite simple. However, gradually the population increased and consequently the demands of the people increased manifold. This has led to a strain on natural resources and devastating effects on the environment. Moreover, with the growth of commercialization and due to man's greed, over-exploitation of environment has become a common feature. This can be checked only through legal provisions.
At present, the life of an individual depends on the activities and performance of many other individuals. Careless maintenance of a nuclear reactor or a chemical plant, can take toll of hundreds or thousands of lives, not only in and around the accident site, but also at a considerable distance. Similarly, a mass causality or environment destruction can happen due to carelessness while transporting hazardous wastes. Therefore, there must be some legal provisions so that such instances of negligence can be reduced, if not totally avoided.
Legal provision in India
Legal provisions to control environmental pollution were existing in India even before independence. But these provisions were inadequate and did not play a significant role in protecting the environment. At the close of the 1970s, growth in environmental consciousness all over the world, led to the development of new Central laws to restore and maintain the quality of the environment.
Constitutional provisions:The provisions for environmental protection in the Constitution of India were made within four years of Stockholm Conference, in 1976, through two amendments as follows.
Some of the important Acts passed by the Government of India on Environmental protection are given below.
Concept of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle
In the modern industrial world, the waste has become an environmental and public health hazard. Waste can be effectively managed by using the following three strategies:
Reducing the waste
The waste can be reduced by making use of the following methods:
Reusing the waste
In our houses and in industries many materials are discarded as wastes. These materials have some discarded as wastes. These materials have some value, for instance glass, metal pieces, rubber, wood fiber and paper products.
In developing countries like India, some of the waste materials like old glass bottles, steel tyres, tin cans are reused. For example, shoes or chappals are made from old tyres, water bags are made from leather, lamps are made from tin cans, etc. Many waste collectors roam about in residential areas and industrial units to collect the solid waste. They segregate them and supply them to specialized artisans who make utility articles from such material and make a living from their skill. For example, a very beautiful garden has been created by Nek Chand in Chandigarh using waste products like tin cans, bottles, broken pieces of crockery etc. Waste collectors, thus, help in making new production processes. Thus, they reduce the burden of waste disposal.
Some solid wastes from the industry can be utilized directly. Fly ash from power plants is used as a cement substitute. Bricks are made from fly ash. Fly ash is also used in making of the roads and filling up low-lying areas.
Recycling Of waste
Besides reuse of the materials by using physical processes, we also use recycling process by treating the waste before it is used in a manufacturing process. In India, we have tones of bagasse from sugarcane during a particular season. Bagasse can be used in the manufacture of paper pulp. This would save trees which are normally used for making paper pulp. Bagasse is also used for making packaging material of dairy products and eggs. Paper industry recycles wood, cloth and used paper.
Plastics are recycled by plastic manufacturers. About 80 per cent of the plastic waste is recycled in India, which is about 0.75 million tons a year. Plastic is non-biodegradable. The bonds of carbon in plastic are impossible to break down through a physical are impossible to break down through a physic al or chemical process. They have to be incinerated, recycled or buried in landfills. The plastic bags which are extensively used in India are made from recycled plastic. The recycled plastic bags are harmful because the melting of plastic and plastic products breaks some polymer chains into smaller units which are harmful.
The Central and State Governments own control and develop a country's forests, dams, major irrigation systems, power stations, industries, means of transportation, railways, roads, ports, etc. The Government is not just the protector of the country's environment but also has a major responsibility for sustaining environmental conscience.
In India, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is the main nodal agency for generating environment consciousness and making and implementing schemes for environmental protection.
The Government's environmental policy focuses on the following areas:
The Environment Protection Act (1986)empowers the Central government to coordinate actions of State Governments, plan and execute a a nationwide programme for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution, lay down standards for the quality of environment in its various aspects and for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from different sources. To protect wildlife, the government of India has set up national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves and biosphere reserves.
As such, the government has a major role in environmental protection. It is the government's duty to find out ways and means of improving efficiency of existing technologies and introduce new eco-friendly technologies. Eco-friendly technology is based on renewable resources as raw material as well as energy; and transformation through highly efficient biotechnology to produce environment friendly products. For example, to reduce vehicular pollution in Delhi, the government initiated the development and use of CNG kits in automobiles instead of petroleum. This has reduced air pollution in Delhi to considerable extent.
In India, the concept of cleaner technology has also been applied in the area of liquid waste management; the technologies for the gaseous and solid materials are available with National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB), New Delhi and Cleaner Technology Centre, New Delhi.
In order to minimize the adverse impact of a number of development projects on the environment, the government ensures that an Environment Impact Assessment is carried out before such a prioject is started. Environmental clearance is granted to them, only after stipulating appropriate environment management plans. These plans are also strictly monitored for compliance. The government sets up various committees under the charge of experts to evaluate the impact of various projects on environment. Some of the issues which have been hotly debated in recent decades include the importance of constructing big dams, effect of pollution on monuments like Taj Mahal, protection of wildlife, especially endangered species like tigers, lions, etc. The government also seeks public opinion on certain matters related to the environment.
Environmental protection is not the responsibility of the government alone. All sections of the society have to participate in this endeavour. It is ultimately the society that suffers due to environmental degradation. Therefore, the society has to play an important role in maintaining environmental standards in the following ways:-
The role of every individual in environmental protection is of great importance because if every individual contributes substantially, the effect will be visible not only at the community, city, state, or national level but also at the global level. It is the responsibility of each individual to protect the Earth and provide conducive environment for itself and innumerable other species which evolved on this earth.
Each individual should change his or her life style in such a way as to reduce environmental pollution. It can be done by following ways:
Methods used for the safe disposal of waste
Sorting out of the re-usable material from heaps of waste may often involve much manual labuor. In a country like India, the poor garbage collectors make a living from discarded solids. In this way they do good job by removing much of the waste from the garbage dumps. Pieces of metal, glass, rubber, plastics etc., are removed to be recycled again to get finished products.
The products derived from recycling process are not of the same quality as original ones. Paper made from recycled material f of a course quality and has to be used as a packing material in cartoons, in corrugated boards.
Collection of Municipal Solid Waste
To prohibit littering and facilitate compliance the following steps should be taken by the municipal authorities:
Storage of Municipal Solid Waste
Following criteria should be taken into account while establishing and maintaining storage facilities:
Vehicles used for transportation of wastes shall be covered. Waste should not be visible to public, nor exposed to open environment, preventing their scattering.
The municipal authorities shall undertake phased programme to ensure community participation in waste segregation.
In cities vacant areas for disposal sites are not very many, so incineration process is used for waste disposal by industries and municipalities. Incineration is the process of controlled high temperature oxidation of primarily organic compounds that release thermal energy and produce carbon dioxide and water. In short, incineration involves burning of wastes at very high temperatures. The waste to be burnt is fed into an incineration/destroys the organic component.
Waste management is one of the major problems that the Indian Government is facing today. Lots of money is spent every year to control the wastes. Public awareness is very important to control the waste. So, more and more public campaigns should be held to educate the Indian people and they should be told about the dis-advantages of wastes.