Waste can be divided in four basic categories municipal solid waste, medical waste, agricultural waste, and industrial waste. We all know about the 3 R’s of waste management: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but do we really practice them, reusing is done to some degree because frugality runs in our blood. India produces nearly 1,50,000 tons of waste per day according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, which means the most basic and important step of reduction of waste at source is not practiced efficiently. Even though the waste produced per person is less compared to the developed countries, it is expected to increase by almost 25% in the coming one or two decades due to urbanization and modernization of communities.
Food……… wonderful food……… glorious food………. (I guess only Ice Age fans will get this)
We do produce enormous amounts of food waste considering the fact that almost 190 million Indians sleep hungry on a daily basis. Thankfully there are many organisations that do not let this happen but this still does not solve issues because we mindlessly contribute to produce even larger amounts of food waste, that is about 67 million tons every year.
Yes, you guessed it right, PLASTICS. Recycling of plastics is one such responsibility that has to be taken by the producer/manufacturer himself according to the EPRs, here it is possible to recycle about 80% of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) produced. This obviously does not cover the other 7-9 million tons of single use plastic that is not collected by our informal sector.
Why are the 3 R’s so important to Us?
The 3Rs conserve natural resources, reduce space needed for landfills, reduce energy needed for manufacturing, transport, and treatment, save money required for landfills, and save costs associated with manufacturing and transport of goods.
The graph below shows the estimates of land required for landfills. The unmonitored landfills produce huge amounts of methane gas which is 25 times more harmful to the atmosphere than our common enemy carbon dioxide.
The other important task (or duty I would say) that we do not take seriously is source segregation, that is according to the guidelines provided by our city municipality (Waste Management rules 2016). The most basic segregation is done as wet waste and dry waste which is followed almost everywhere, but it is important not to mix hazardous wastes as they should be properly sealed and disposed.
There are cities that have been performing exceptionally well in solid waste management according to the Swachh Survekshan 2019 like Indore, Ambikapur, Mysore, Bhopal, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Ujjain, Gauchar, Raimahal, Mathura-Vrindavan and many more. We all have to start somewhere so why not from our own homes.
Let us thrive to care more about the waste we produce by doing the least expected from us.