Can we hand over the green earth to our next generation?

Presently, the rising trend of solid waste generation, accumulation is a global concern and a big threat to the environment. According to a report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India generates 62 million tons of solid waste per annum. It is one of the major causes of air pollution as it spreads foul smell and cause of fire incidents resulting harmful diseases. It also produces leachate, a foul dark liquid that kills vegetation around dump and causing ground water contamination. It has created a very big challenge for all of us and for our next generation. We have already lost
approximately 1.8 years of our life span due to air pollution. Although, almost all of the Municipality Corporations are trying their best to nullify the solid waste issues, still it is standing as unresolved issue and growing day by day. When the waste management is going out of control, the last option is applied for shifting of the solid waste to a different place. We know that by applying this quick fix solution, the problem remains as it is.

Where is the issue? Whether all the generated solid waste is transported to the site? Whether all the waste are properly segregated? Whether all the segregated plastic waste are going for recycling? Whether the issue was there before when plastic bags were not available? There are many such
questions that arise and here is the way how to solve this big unresolved issue.

1st step: Stopping of plastic bag production: Stopping of plastic bag production will reduce the accumulation by more than 50%. Let’s see how. The food and green waste contribute 44% of total waste and plastic waste contributes only 12% of total waste. Due to a wrong practice and habit, many
people pack the wet waste inside plastic bags and dumping it. Let’s imagine if billions of people bundle the wet waste, then how many people will be required for complete segregation. So, if plastic bag production can be stopped, then the bundling activity will come to an end. As a result, the wet waste will be decomposed itself within some days if not taken care also.

2nd step: Segregation of waste from the source: Segregating the wet waste from the very beginning can be helpful for making it compost or for decomposition if not taken care. The challenge is to make aware the billions of generators through training to waste collectors, slogan, displays in all public areas, digital media and incorporation of basic environmental studies in student’s syllabus. Waste recycling will become easy after proper segregation and will be helpful in reducing waste accumulation.

3rd step: Nullifying legacy waste: Once the waste generation comes down, the accumulated legacy waste can be focused for making compost, biomining process to decompose and otherwise can be planned to install Waste to Energy plants for power generations after checking the condition of waste. Below showing some examples of waste shifting to other places by the teams to manage the situation.

Gurgaon : unsegregated waste transferred to landfill, Vendor penalized

Bhubaneswar: waste transferred to Bhuasuni Dump yard

Lastly, the unwanted shifting of accumulated legacy waste to a different place or dumping into ocean will not solve any purpose, rather this will aggravate the situation in future. Waste management is inevitable and achievement of zero waste accumulation and maintaining the greenery
of earth will be the best gift to our next generation.


The write-up has been contributed by Durga Madhab Mohapatra, S J W Consultancy services, Bhubaneswar

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