Across India, 43 million tonnes of solid waste is collected annually. Out of this, a mere 22% is treated and the rest 72% is dumped at landfill sites. This dumping of waste is causing serious health problems seen in the form of breathing issues, bacterial infections and increase in cardiovascular risks. Diseases such as dengue and cholera have also been on the rise, as insects and rodents are attracted to the waste piles. Greenhouse gases such as methane are produced when organic waste at landfill sites decomposes. When these piles of waste catch fire, plastic is burnt, releasing cancer causing dioxins in the air. Inefficient waste management is a grave issue that needs to be addressed in India on war footing.
In today’s world, over production, over consumption, lack of proper recycling policies, increasing practice of use and throw in our society, along with less ecofriendly products being used, and people buying more one-time non-biodegradable plastic and Styrofoam products for convenience, are few, but big, concerns which should force us to think about the impact of our actions on the earth and our future generations. Every second, the population is growing in the world, and we all are adding significant waste to the planet over our lifetimes.
Traditionally in India, we have always practiced the concept of reuse and recycle, but over the last few decades, this lovely eco-habit seems to have reduced. The good news is that after the release of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, more focus is being given on building awareness on solid waste management and direct involvement of communities in waste management. Many residential communities across different Indian cities have started segregating their waste at source, and composting their kitchen and horticulture waste in community level composting plants within their premises. Decentralised waste management is really the need of the hour. It will help solve a majority of our waste woes.
The Development Alternatives Group has adopted the 4A’s approach – Assessment, Awareness, Action and Advocacy – to create awareness on waste management. We believe that an individual usually moves through these above four stages before converting a belief into action.
Can we pledge to take a few small actions that will go a long way in solving the waste mess we see all around us?
I will reduce the waste I produce in a day by 10%, in a week by 20%, in a month by 30%, and in a year by 50%.
I will refuse one-time use of plastic and Styrofoam products, such as mineral water bottles, plastic and polypropylene (non-woven) shopping bags, straws, glasses and other cutlery.
I will buy at least one recycled product every three months.
I will start segregating household waste, recycling dry waste and composting kitchen waste at the household or community level.
I will stop throwing my hazardous electronic waste such as batteries, bulbs, wires, chargers, mobile phones, etc in the dustbin, and organise e-waste collection drives in my community and work place, to give e-waste only to authorised e-waste recyclers who do the job in an environment friendly manner.
The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.