Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] The three bin solution

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Various laws for waste management in India and the need for segregating hazardous waste from household waste


Context

Need for better solid waste management

  1. With changing lifestyles, our homes are awash with different chemicals and products which, often without us being aware, are corrosive, explosive, flammable or toxic
  2. These are dangerous wastes that need to be kept out of the wet and dry waste streams
  3. They are harmful not only for our health but also for the environment if not disposed of properly

Lead exposure risk

  1. Leftover paints and varnishes are examples of common polluting wastes in homes
  2. They often contain toxic heavy metals and flammable solvents
  3. Lead, a highly toxic metal, is found in lead-based paints which are often used on walls, toys and art supplies
  4. Young children are particularly vulnerable as even low levels of lead exposure can cause cognitive disabilities in children
  5. WHO lists lead exposure as one of the top 10 environmental health threats globally
  6. Many countries have phased out lead from their paints. In November 2016
  7. India brought in a regulation which allowed a maximum of 90 ppm lead content in paints
  8. A study by Toxic Links published in October 2018 shows that the concentration of lead in paints manufactured by small and medium enterprises in India remains very high
  9. They found paint samples with as high as 199,345 ppm lead content — more than 2,000 times the maximum limit

Rules for safe disposal of different kinds of wastes

  1. There are rules galore for domestic hazardous waste with quite a bit of overlap in coverage for different types of waste
  2. Domestic hazardous waste comes under the ambit of Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016
  3. Hazardous waste generated by industries and large offices is separately covered under the Hazardous Waste Rules 2016
  4. Some biomedical waste is included in the definition of domestic hazardous waste, but only waste from healthcare establishments is covered under the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016
  5. Similarly E-waste Management Rules 2016 are applicable to e-waste including computers, printers, TV, fluorescent and other mercury-containing lamps, while lead acid batteries from home inverters and cars come under Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules 2001

Weak implementation

  1. It is the responsibility of the municipal authorities under the SWM Rules 2016, to collect hazardous waste quarterly or periodically, and/or set up deposit centres, where such waste can be dropped off by waste generators
  2. The authorities must also ensure safe storage of the waste and its transportation to the hazardous waste disposal facility
  3. But the rules lose their significance because there are hardly any deposit centres for domestic hazardous waste
  4. The Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 require safe disposal of only healthcare waste
  5. While only 10-25 per cent of biomedical waste is infectious or hazardous, if not properly handled, it presents the physical, chemical and microbiological risk to the general population as well as those who handle this waste
  6. Discarded hazardous medical waste leads to the unintended release of drug-resistant microorganisms in the environment

Drug resistance increasing

  1. According to the WHO, in 2016, 490,000 persons developed multi-drug resistant TB globally and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well
  2. A WHO report also shows that there were 65,000 cases of multidrug-resistant and Rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis in India in 2017

Way forward

  1. With changing lifestyles, our homes are awash with different chemicals and products which, often without us being aware, are corrosive, explosive, flammable or toxic
  2. These are dangerous wastes that need to be kept out of the wet and dry waste streams
  3. They are harmful not only for our health but also for the environment if not disposed of properly
  4. People should start keeping three bins for waste: Dry, wet and hazardous
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments