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Swachh Bharat through recycling of waste

Mechanised sorting and bailing of municipal waste

Setting up of recycling units in rural localities close to Metros and cities will create employment and prevent migration of rural population to cities in search of livelihood. For example, a 50 tonnes per day mill producing packaging paper and board by recycling reclaimed waste paper will provide employment to about 125 to 150 people. Downstream units for producing cartons, boxes, cups, plates, pouches etc. will come up creating further employment opportunities. Setting up of these manufacturing units in rural and semi-rural areas will provide“on the job“training to the persons of the locality and contribute to skill development. Also, as part of their social responsibility, the units will promote hygiene, education, sports and cultural activities, provide clean drinking water,etc. Modern living in rural areas with better housing, electricity (Solar), running water and flush toilets, cooking gas (Bio), scientific garbage disposal, etc., are consequences of development through increased employment and not the other way around.

Below is the list of activities required by a community while planning waste management.

1. Consultation with interested stakeholders (Sanitation, transport, environment, public health, business)
2. Identify potential waste streams (Quantity of waste generated by each stream, the possibility of reduction at source)
3. Evaluate the reuse and recycling programme. (Availability of recycling facilities and market for reused and recycled products)
4. Consider waste collection strategies (How to separate the wastes and reduce the volume before collection)
5. Determine waste processing sites (Suitable for sorting, staging, processing and storage without contamination)
6. Potential waste management options. (Reuse, recycling, composting, treatment before disposal and transport to remote site)
7. Create a community outreach plan (Inform the community about the waste management related activities and the involvement required by them)
8. Address the health and safety issues of waste management operators. (Appropriate training with knowledge of the hazards and risks involved as well as, use of protective equipment).

In view of the importance of separation of wastes at source for their proper management and disposal, most developed countries have laid down strict norms and rules with provision of adequate facilities. The practice in Germany has been detailed below as an example.

Waste Disposal in Germany

Germany produces 30 million tons of garbage annually and the country has been very successful in it’s fight against growing garbage heaps. The manufacturers and retailers have to pay a “Green Dot” fees on products; the more the packaging the higher the fee. This has reduced the garbage by about a million tons per year. However, major success of the programme is the proper sorting and processing of the garbage. It has implemented the EU policy on packaging through its Ordinance on the Avoidance and Recovery of Packaging Waste. The Ordinance makes industry responsible for packaging at the end of its life cycle, including the costs of collecting, sorting, and recycling packaging after consumers discard it, and calls for retailers to install bins so that customers may leave primary and secondary packaging in stores. It also imposes mandatory deposits on nonrefillable containers for beverages, washing and cleansing agents, and water-based paints. Furthermore, the Ordinance also rules out incineration for energy recovery as an option.

Return of bottles and cans

Throwing bottles and other beverage packaging in the garbage bin is a waste of money. These would be refilled many times before they are sent to be recycled into new containers. When you purchase something like Coke or beer in a bottle or can, you pay the advertised price plus a deposit. When you return the empty bottles and cans through a machine it issues a voucher for the refund amount to be adjusted against purchases. This results in zero litter, minimum environmental impact and saving in cost by the municipalities.

Garbage bins of different colours

Bins of different colours are provided in residential buildings and public places for different wastes like glass, paper, plastics which are collected on designated days in the week. Any kind of bottle or glass jar that is non-returnable and on which a deposit has not been paid belongs in the designated glass bins. This includes wine bottles, jam/preserve jars, oil bottles, juice bottles and even bath-salt bottles. (Ceramics, china, mirrors and wine corks do not belong in the glass bins.) Glass is sorted by color. There are different slots for depositing green, brown and clear glass. The other bins are color coded; green, blue, yellow, brown and gray.

Blue: All packaging made of paper and cardboard, newspapers, magazines, waste paper, paper bags, etc, belong in the blue bins.(Tissues, however, do not belong here). The boxes are to be flattened and the plastic wrapper has to be removed before putting them in the bin.

Yellow; Plastic, polystyrene, aluminum, tinplate and “composite” materials like beverage cartons made of a mixture of materials belong in the yellow bin or are put in the yellow bags. Empty spray cans are also allowed here. (It is suggested that stuff is not put inside each other, like the yogurt cup inside the baked beans tin). As the stuff gets sorted by hand, it is requested to rinse the cans and cups before throwing them in the bin.

Brown: Now we are left with the “other stuff” and biological waste, which by the way, makes up almost 50 percent of the total garbage produced in Germany. Bio stuff is anything destined for the compost heap in a good gardener’s back yard. This includes kitchen scraps, peels, leftover food, coffee filters, tea bags and garden waste. There will probably be a separate brown bin for this. The end result of bio recycling is either energy through the natural fermenting gasses, which is captured and utilized, or garden compost.

Grey: In case there is no scope or intention of composting the biological waste, the stuff is thrown in to the gray bin with house hold wastes “almost the rest”. This includes ash, cigarette butts, old household objects like hairbrushes and frying pans, textiles and nylon stockings, nappies/diapers, tissues, other personal hygiene items, extremely dirty paper, etc. Everything in the gray bins is incinerated.

We are now left with “the rest”, i.e. the stuff that did not feature anywhere else. That is the hazardous waste, which includes fluorescent tubes, batteries and acids, cans of paint still containing paint, thinners, adhesives, corrosives, disinfectants, insecticides, and so forth. A notice is issued by the local town council on when and where the truck collecting this kind of waste will be available. Batteries can be disposed of separately in a bin provided in the local shopping area.

Another useful feature of the waste disposal system in most cities is the Recyclingh of, an outlying area with containers to which one can transport and deposit heavy garbage like old furniture, electrical appliances etc.

Life cycle analysis (LCA) carried out by the German Environmental Protection Agency proves the significant negative environmental impacts of one-way systems regarding material(resource) consumption, energy consumption, global warming potential, acidification, ground level ozone and eutrophication compared to environmentally friendly refillable systems.

A recent LCA fromthe IFEU Institute shows that refillable bottles have 50 to 60% lower global warming potential than one-way beverage containers. For instance, using only refillable bottles for all non-alcoholic beverages in Germany compared to the use of one-way packaging could annually reduce the global warming emissions with 1.26 million tonnes CO2 equivalents.

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