The brainstorming session of WTERT India noted that the status of MSW management in India has not improved substantially despite enormous finding from JNNURM and other governmental grants. Smaller cities conditions are even more of concern.
The MSW Management and Handling Rules need reform. Some of these need to emerge from the areas of collection and transportation as a first step. Of the same, segregation needs to be considered as a key component of the MSW management. In the absence of segregation, most of the downstream efficiencies are not achieved. The treatment/processing technologies have shown poor results due to mixed waste receipts. The other area of reform is better monitoring of odorous gases based on scientific rationale. The monitoring protocol based on population needs to change as the emissions and odour are not linked with the population. In fact, the increasing population makes it necessary that odour parameters are given more importance.
The technology mix needs to emerge from the characteristics of the waste and not on what technology is available. The use of Waste to Energy concept must keep the basic principle that we should burn what is combustible and use biological methods for biodegradables. It was felt that there is a tremendous scope for the generation of energy from MSW and all the municipalities must ensure the same. This would benefit the energy starved nations like India.
There should be proper technology assessment throughout the country which must address the issue of climate (especially rains) and also the scale of the technology. There is a need to redefine and document technologies applicable for smaller cities, large villages, whereas large metro cities must address through technologies option of waste to energy, volume reduction and less land intensive options.
The need was also felt that cities assessment across the country with regard to waste generation and management needs to be undertaken periodically. The absence of reliable data makes all MSW management decisions unreliable. The health burden of poor MSW management started to pile up as number of diseases and its spread has been seen to have direct correlation with waste management efficiencies. Awareness must be created among general public and also among technology suppliers and providers.
There is an urgent need of research and development in this sector, especially in following areas: Biogas technologies (small scale and large scale); landfills of low-cost for smaller cities, recycle and reuse benchmarking, combustion technology adaptation based on Indian MSW feedstock etc. Currently, India is facing problems in terms of solid waste management and energy demand. A solution must be chalked out in such a way that it becomes a win-win situation both in terms of solid waste management and energy production. Planning regarding urban waste management must be chalked out.
One could concentrate on decentralized system for management and treatment of solid waste in urban cities. Policies must be framed in such a manner that minimum quantity of solid waste must be disposed at landfill sites. Since land is a scarce resource, government agencies must concentrate now to plan for future. Also look at the options of reducing land requirement so that sustainability is very high. There should be more participation from regulatory bodies, policy makers through a regular and proper public consultation.
Benchmarking of different issues regarding MSW management needs to be undertaken which will address the service level benchmark. This would also help in performance based payment. Service providers and also technology suppliers within India and also those with tie ups in other countries are looking forward to transparent communication of policies for cities in terms of technology use and their benchmark. The uncertainties are very high for new players who come with technology and wish to undertake projects. Odour control measures must be highlighted in policy framework and must get reflected as a guideline without which acceptance of waste facilities would continue to be poor.
Roles and responsibilities of different organizations, public, and rag pickers must be formulated in policy framework. Informal sector work must be recognized as they are responsible for a minimum of about 8 to 10% of waste generated. They not only provide employment but also reduce burden on the landfills. Their contributions need to be recognized.
The MSW process of decentralized management must also be examined and encouraged as they prevent accumulation and also creation of a big problem.