Solid waste management rules, 2016

Note4Students/Syllabus Mapping: GS3

Waste management and diligent planning becomes critical for regulation of humongous solid waste being generated every day. With growing urbanization and rise of smart cities on the offing the issue of solid waste management becomes even more imperative. The fact that the solid waste management rules have been revised after 16 years makes it a hot topic from the environment context and important for CSE Mains 2017.

Current Context:

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) recently notified the new Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016. These will replace the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, which have been in place for the past 16 years.

These rules are the sixth category of waste management rules brought out by the ministry, as it has earlier notified plastic, e-waste, biomedical, hazardous and construction and demolition waste management rules.


  1. Waste management refers to the activities and actions required to manage waste from its start till its disposal. This includes collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation.
  2. The waste hierarchy refers to the “3 Rs” reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization.
  3. The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies.
  4. The Polluter pays principle is a principle where the polluting party pays for the impact caused to the environment.

What do you understand by solid waste? What are the contributions of its components?

  1. Solid waste encompasses the following waste components:
  2. Construction and demolition waste – wastes generated in construction of new buildings, renovation and demolition work.
  3. Plastic waste– includes polythene bags, plastic bottles etc
  4. Biomedical waste – wastes involved in diagnosis, treatment and immunization such as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus such as needles and syringes and cytotoxic drugs.
  5. Hazardous waste– wastes that cause immediate danger to exposed individuals or environment.
  6. E-waste – includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), printed circuit board (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones etc.

Why is there a dire need for Solid Waste Management?

  1. Many reports suggest that 62 million tons of waste is generated annually in the country at present, out of which 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is biomedical waste, hazardous waste generation is 7.90 million tonnes per annum and 15 lakh tonne is e-waste.
  2. The per capita waste generation in Indian cities ranges from 200 grams to 600 grams per day.
  3. The fact that 43 million TPA is collected, 11.9 million is treated and 31 million is dumped in landfill sites, which means that only about 75-80% of the municipal waste gets collected and only 22-28 % of this waste is processed and treated.
  4. Waste generation will most likely to increase from 62 million tonnes to about165 million tonnes in 2030.

Major highlights of the new SWM Rules, 2016

Segregation at source

  1. 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 repellants, cleaning agents etc.) before handing it over to the collector.
  2. Institutional generators, market associations, event organizers and hotels and restaurants have been directly made responsible for segregation and sorting the waste and manage in partnership with local bodies.
  3. All hotels and restaurants will also be required to segregate biodegradable waste and set up a system of collection to ensure that such food waste is utilized for composting / biomethanation.
  4. The rules mandate that all resident welfare and market associations and gated communities with an area of above 5,000 sq m will have to segregate waste at source into material like plastic, tin, glass, paper and others and hand over recyclable material either to authorized waste-pickers and recyclers or to the urban local body.

Collection and disposal of sanitary waste:

  1. 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:

  1. As per the rules, brand owners who sale or market their products in packaging material which are non‐biodegradable, should put in place a system to collect back the packaging waste generated due to their production.

User fees for collection:

  1. 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. As per the rules, the generator will have to pay “User Fee” to the waste collector and a “Spot Fine” for littering and non-segregation, the quantum of which will be decided by the local bodies.
  2. Also, the integration of rag pickers, waste pickers and kabadiwalas from the informal sector to the formal sector would be done by the state government.
  3. The rules also stipulate zero tolerance for throwing; burning, or burying the solid waste generated on streets, open public spaces outside the generator’s premises, or in the drain, or water bodies.

Waste processing and treatment

  1. 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.
  2. The developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, industrial park to earmark at least 5 per cent of the total area of the plot or minimum 5 plots/ sheds for recovery and recycling facility.
  3. Waste processing facilities will have to be set up by all local bodies having a population of 1 million or more within two years.
  4. Also, the rules have mandated bio‐remediation or capping of old and abandoned dump sites within five years.

Promoting use of compost

  1. The Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers should provide market development assistance on city compost and ensure promotion of co‐marketing of compost with chemical fertilizers.

Promotion of waste to energy

  1. The SWM Rules, 2016 emphasize promotion of waste to energy plants. The rules mandate all industrial units using fuel and located within 100 km from a solid waste-based Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) plant to make arrangements within six months from the date of notification of these rules to replace at least 5 per cent of their fuel requirement by RDF so produced.
  2. As per the rules, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources should facilitate infrastructure creation for Waste to Energy plants and provide appropriate subsidy or incentives for such Waste to Energy plants.
  3. The Ministry of Power should fix tariff or charges for the power generated from the Waste to Energy plants based on solid waste and ensure compulsory purchase of power generated from such Waste to Energy plants by discoms.

Revision of parameters and existing standards

  1. The landfill site shall be 100 meters away from a river, 200 meters from a pond, 500 meters away from highways, habitations, public parks and water supply wells and 20 km away from airports/airbase.
  2. Emission standards are completely amended and include parameters for dioxins, furans, reduced limits for particulate matters from 150 to 100 and now 50.
  3. Also, the compost standards have been amended to align with Fertilizer Control Order.

Management of waste in hilly areas

  1. The construction of landfills on hills shall be avoided. Land for construction of sanitary landfills in hilly areas will be identified in the plain areas, within 25 kilometers.

Constitution of a Central Monitoring Committee

  1. The government has also constituted a Central Monitoring Committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, MoEF&CC to monitor the overall implementation of the rules.
  2. The Committee comprising of various stakeholders from the Central and state governments will meet once a year to monitor the implementation of these rules.


Limitations of the revised Solid waste management rules:

  1. They fail to incentivize and impose a strict penalty in case of poor implementation.
  2. The rules have not pushed for decentralized management of waste but have encouraged centralized treatment such as waste to energy, the present state of which is not good in the country.
  3. The informal sector has been considerably neglected in the new rules.
  4. It is not clear about the fine amount to be imposed on plastic manufacturers or how the monitoring system would be carried out
  5. The need is for behavioral change on part of people when it comes to domestic waste generation and on part of authorities when it comes to implementing the rules framed is not adequately focused.

Way forward:

The rules must reiterate a point stressed in much of the literature on solid waste management that 25 per cent to 35 per cent of India’s waste can be recycled. It will take almost 4-5 years to see the drastic change in how the waste management regimes will work in India. The SWM Rules, 2016 diminish hopes in pushing for adoption of a decentralized mechanism for solid waste management. However, it would be challenging to see how segregation at source shall work on the ground. A massive awareness campaign in association with communities, NGOs, students and other stakeholders needs to be planned to push for better implementation of these rules. The Rules need to focus on making solid waste management a people’s movement by taking the issues, concerns and management of solid waste to citizens and grass-roots.

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