Sunday, May 19, 2024 23:30 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, May 18, 2024 18:03 [IST]

Four R’s to get rid of global garbage issue


Minimal production of waste can help in getting rid of waste. For this, experts talk about adopting the principle of four R's. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle means recycling old materials and reusing them. By following these small things, we can control waste related problems to a great extent

India is the largest waste producing country in the world, where more than 300 million tonnes of solid waste is generated every year. But we are able to dispose of only 60 percent of it. The rest is scattered in different places and affects the environment. This waste is causing water, air and soil pollution. More than 75 percent of the garbage in the country is dumped in the open. The World Bank Report shows that the highest amount of garbage is generated in the national capital Delhi. Delhi has left cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad far behind in garbage production. Even there is no adequate arrangement for separating and properly recycling waste like electronics and plastic in these cities. Landfill sites here are full. Plastic or waste is burnt in many places. People oppose new landfill sites because it causes pollution.


At present, more than 201 crore tonnes of solid waste is being generated every year in the world. One third of it is being thrown into the environment in a very unsafe manner, which can prove to be a big challenge for the environment in the future. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the total production of solid waste may increase to 340 crore tonnes, which may emerge as a big problem for the world. However, environmental experts are of the opinion that the same waste can take the place of a newly developed industry if arrangements are made for proper disposal of this solid waste. And this can prove to be a big opportunity for providing employment. They say that per capita solid waste production depends most on the economic level. People in the poorer class produce less waste, whereas people in developed economies produce more waste per capita. This quantity varies from 0.74 kg per person per day to 4.54 kg per person per day.

      In 2009, Indian cities were producing 80,000 metric tons of waste per day. It is estimated that by the year 2047, India will produce 260 million tonnes of waste a year, which will require a landfill area of about 1,400 square meters to dispose of. This area will be equal to the area formed by combining Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai. It is also a fact that despite the rules, landfill sites have been promoted in India. At present, in the contracts given by municipal corporations to private contractors for waste management, the contract takers are encouraged to bring as much waste as possible. In the contract, fees are paid according to the movement of vehicles carrying garbage. The more garbage you bring, the more you will be charged. No consideration is given to the cost of land and its availability.

     In many countries the previous system for waste disposal has been changed. There the fee related to waste is not paid for its collection or transportation, but for the disposal of the waste. In Sweden and the United States, heavy entry fees are charged for dumping garbage in landfills. Sweden also imposes a landfill tax. Heavy entry fees discourage municipal corporations from dumping garbage in landfills. In 2013, an average of $212 per ton was charged for garbage disposal in Sweden, compared to $150 per ton in the US. It is noteworthy that Swachh Sarvekshan ranking is given to cities in India on the basis of cleanliness. In this annual ranking, cities with the worst waste management are ranked at the top, while cities that manage waste disposal properly are ranked at the bottom. Indore has remained the cleanest city in the country in the ranking for many years.

     Experts say that failure to properly manage or dispose of solid waste can lead to pollution. Solid waste is considered unsightly and throwing it on the roadside causes foul smell. Improper disposal of solid waste can lead to many problems, such as environmental pollution, outbreak of bacterial diseases, emission of harmful greenhouse gases, pollution of groundwater, noise and fine dust during transportation. Increasing population, urbanization and increasing technology are some of the causes of solid waste pollution. Recycling of solid waste is the best way to deal with these problems associated with solid waste. Recycling means turning waste into a new or useful product. Whereas separating waste into dry and wet waste, door-to-door collection of garbage and sending it for processing after sorting are the major components of solid waste management.

      To limit waste, the Central Government had implemented Solid Waste Management Rules in the year 2016. It is accepted that the landfill area will be used only for such waste which is non-reusable, non-renewable, non-biodegradable, non-flammable and non-chemically reactive. The rules also state that efforts will be made to reuse or recycle the waste to achieve the objective of eliminating waste from the landfill. This is an important step towards removing the old policy of insisting on the need for landfill. To minimize the use of landfills, impose landfill tax, create clean landfills for disposal of waste, so that pollution is reduced. The newly created waste management system should aim to ensure garbage free landfills.

     In fact, waste disposal remains a matter of serious concern for the entire world. The amount of waste has continuously increased due to an increase in population. Solid waste management is also in the news because almost all countries are facing the challenge of efficiently disposing of the increasing waste. Actually, there is no proper system for disposal of solid waste. The main objective of an efficient solid waste management system run by the government is to extract maximum number of useful resources and produce energy from garbage, so that minimum amount of waste material has to be thrown in the landfill area. The reason behind this is that the garbage thrown in landfills is facing huge consequences. Firstly, it requires a lot of land, which is continuously decreasing and secondly, garbage is also a probable cause of air, soil and water pollution. Throwing solid waste spoils the land, while burning it increases air pollution. Also, many diseases affect public health.

      If we talk about recycling of waste, Germany is doing the best, recycling 56 percent of its waste. Austria recycles 53 percent, South Korea 53 percent, Wales 52 percent and Switzerland 49 percent. Sweden, Norway and Singapore are also doing good in recycling the waste. Even in India, recycling is gradually taking the form of an industry. Many small cities in the country are doing excellent efforts in terms of recycling. Ahmedabad and Trivandrum are recycling a major part of their total waste. However, better technical and financial support is needed to make this sector a sustainable industry. At present, people do not prefer to purchase the products made after recycling. The possibility of toxins deters people from purchasing recycled products. If such problems can be solved with better technology, recycling can become a big opportunity.

     According to an estimate, huge waste is generated in the building construction sector. The material released after demolition of old buildings has become a big problem. However, today companies are recycling more than 75 percent of this waste. Bricks, plastic and many other solid materials are being made from this waste. Plastic waste is a big problem in garbage generation. Minimal production of this waste can help in freeing the world from waste. In this context, experts talk about adopting the principle of four R's. The first R means refuse i.e. refusing to use plastic materials, the second R means reduce i.e. minimize use of plastic materials, the third R means reuse i.e. use old plastic materials instead of new ones and finally recycle i.e. Recycling old plastic materials means recycling and reusing them. Overall, it can be said that if we keep these few points in mind, we can control and minimise the problem of increasing waste.



Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi