Managing the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS-III Environment & Biodiversity | Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia
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Why in News?

  • A recent report titled ‘EnviStats India 2022’, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, has highlighted the herculean challenge of disposing of the solid waste generated by the States without harming the environment.

What is the report all about?

  • Source and destination of solid waste: By taking Delhi as an example, the report has calculated the “physical supply and use tables” to capture the source and destination of all types of solid waste in the capital city.
  • Data from government sources: Data were collected from all the five Urban Local Bodies and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee pertaining to 2020-21.

Case study of Delhi:

  • Over 40 lakh tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW): Municipal solid waste includes garbage (highly decomposable material such as food), trash (bulky items such as tree branches or old appliances), and rubbish (slowly decomposing items such as paper, glass, or metal).
  • Households are largest contributors: According to the report, about 85% of MSW in Delhi was generated by households and 15% by shops and restaurants.
  • High C & D waste: That year, over 13 lakh tonnes of construction and demolition waste were also generated in the city along with over 5.4 lakh tonnes of plastic waste, about 11 thousand tonnes of bio-medical waste, and 610 tonnes of e-waste.
  • Hazardous waste: Delhi also generated 3,239 tonnes of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is typically sludge from factories, industrial manufacturing process wastes and batteries.

How the waste is disposed-off?

  • Largest part went to landfills: Half the municipal solid waste went to landfills and the other half was recycled and reused.
  • Incineration: About 35% of bio-medical waste was incinerated, while the entire share of construction and demolition waste was recycled. While bio-medical waste is incinerated, the ash generated after the process is sent to the landfills.
  • No information on E-waste: It is not known how e-waste is disposed of as there is no treatment and disposal facility available in Delhi for e-waste.
  • Plastic into energy: According to the report, of the 610 tonnes of e-waste generated in 2020-21, refurbish collector collected 28.6 tonnes and bulk consumers collected the rest. Notably, about 22% of plastic waste is converted into energy, while 37% is taken to landfills.

How Municipal solid waste is taken care in others states of India?

  • Amount of waste processed: Across India, 68% of the MSW generated is processed. Himachal Pradesh leads the list with 98% of MSW getting processed, followed by Chhattisgarh at 93%.
  • West Bengal poor performer: In contrast, West Bengal processed only 9%. These data were of November 2020. In 2018-19, an average of 2.5 tonnes of plastic was generated per 1,000 population in India.
  • How biomedical waste is treated: Across India, 87% of biomedical waste was treated. Seventeen States and five Union Territories have already achieved 100% bio-medical waste treatment, while in Bihar and Chhattisgarh just 29% of it got treated, respectively. Close to 614 tonnes of biomedical waste was generated per day in India in 2018.
  • Hazardous waste is poorly treated: Across India, only 45% of the hazardous waste generated was recycled/utilised. Most States lag in this indicator. Of the 30 States analysed, in 13, less than 50% was recycled/utilised; and in 22 of them, less than 75% was recycled/utilised. These data pertain to the 2018-19 period. The hazardous waste generated in the country per 1,000 population was 8.09 metric tonnes in 2018.

Municipal solid waste management rules 2016:

  • Segregation at source: The new rules have mandated the source segregation of waste in order to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle. Waste generators would now have to now segregate waste into three streams- Biodegradables, Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, Wood, etc.) and Domestic Hazardous waste (diapers, napkins, mosquito repellents, cleaning agents etc.) before handing it over to the collector.
  • Collection and disposal of sanitary waste: The manufacturers or brand owners of sanitary napkins are responsible for awareness for proper disposal of such waste by the generator and shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products.
  • Collect Back scheme for packaging waste: As per the rules, brand owners who sale or market their products in packaging material which are nonbiodegradable, should put in place a system to collect back the packaging waste generated due to their production.
  • User fees for collection: The new rules have given power to the local bodies across India to decide the user fees. Municipal authorities will levy user fees for collection, disposal and processing from bulk generators.
  • Waste processing and treatment: It has been advised that the bio-degradable waste should be processed, treated and disposed of through composting or bio-methanation within the premises as far as possible and the residual waste shall be given to the waste collectors or agency as directed by the local authority.


  • EnviStats India 2022 report highlights the positive progress by India in solid waste management. However, challenges still persist, hazardous and e-waste, Landfills and incineration need to be reduced significantly which are causing the pollution.
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