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Waste management in India - statistics & facts

Waste management comprises of a collective activity of segregation, collection, transportation, recycling and disposal of waste. Improper waste management is one of the main causes of environmental pollution. In India, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is responsible for regulating and managing waste. One of the main activities of the ministry is prevention and control of pollution, and it has released many rules over the years to safely handle and dispose waste to ensure a clean environment. The Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Board ensure proper management of rules set forth by the MoEFCC.

Waste is broadly categorized as municipal, industrial and hazardous waste, based on their origin and composition. Specific rules and compliances are to be followed for safe handling and disposal of the various types of waste. It is well known that the cities are huge contributors of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and India has one of the world's largest landfills in Ghazipur. Ideally, the landfills must comply with stringent regulations so as not to contaminate the soil, land and air in and around its vicinity. Most biomedical waste is non-infectious and is managed as MSW. On the other hand, hazardous and infectious biomedical waste should not be mixed with other waste and must be treated in dedicated facilities.

India's waste generation

Presently, India accounts for roughly 18 percent the world's population and 12 percent of global municipal solid waste generation. With India's population continuously rising, waste generation in the country is expected to see significant growth in the coming decades. Consequently, this creates challenges in its management. Despite a door-to-door waste collection in many cities, India’s ill-equipped sorting and disposal facilities make it not so efficient. In 2016, MoEFCC launched the Integrated Waste Management System to ease waste management, and end-to-end app in line with the government’s attempt to digitize the economy.

Waste recovery and recycling in India

Recovery from waste is a crucial element in waste management as it reduces the volume of waste and prevents overloading landfills. The informal recycling industry plays a major role in waste management and provides employment opportunities to people in lower economic classes. With increasing electronic waste and plastic waste, it is important to encourage recovery while following the 3R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Community participation had increased in many regions across the country for efficient waste management. With growing public awareness and participation in the recent years, waste was being minimized at the source and citizens were becoming more environmentally conscious.

The Swachh Bharat Mission, a nation-wide campaign was introduced by the government to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure in cities, towns and rural areas. The mission was enforced for a period of five years starting in 2014. This ensured proactivity from citizens in being part of the solution to waste management. However, during an annual Swachh Bharat survey it was seen that most of the citizens saw a lack of commitment from the municipalities.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "Waste management in India".


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