Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

On Delhi’s mounting Waste Crisis | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Local Governance; Delhi Pollution;

Mains level: Delhi Pollution and Local Governance; Solid Waste Management;

Why in the News? 

On May 13, the Supreme Court stated that addressing the “horrible” issue of 3,800 metric tonnes of untreated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) accumulating daily in the national capital requires moving beyond party politics.

What is the status of Delhi’s SWM system?

  • Population Growth and Waste Generation:
    • According to the 2011 Census Data, New Delhi’s population was approximately 1.7 crore. However, this Population is expected to increase to around 2.32 crore.
    • This increase will lead to a significant rise in waste generation, estimated at approximately 13,000 tonnes per day (TPD), which equates to roughly 1,400 truckloads daily.
    • Presently, this daily waste generation accumulates to about 42 lakh tonnes per annum. The population is anticipated to reach 2.85 crore by 2031 due to which the waste generation could increase to 17,000 TPD.
  • Waste Collection: Around 90% of the waste generated in the city is collected by three municipal corporations:
  • Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)
  • Delhi Cantonment Board
  • New Delhi Municipal Corporation
  • Waste Composition is of major types – Biodegradable Wet Waste (50-55%), Non-Biodegradable Dry Waste (around 35%), and Inert Waste (10% that does not decompose). The total collective capacity of these facilities is about 9,200 tonnes per day (TPD).

Issue of Unprocessed Waste Disposal: 

  • The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is disposing of 3,800 TPD of unprocessed waste in landfills.
  • Designated Landfills (Gazipur, Bhalswa, and Okhla) are filled with unprocessed wet and dry waste, leading to significant environmental issues such as methane gas emissions, leachate production, and landfill fires.
  • The landfills have accumulated a total of 2.58 crore tonnes of legacy waste, covering 200 acres of land.

What are the challenges faced by MCD?

  • Lack of Waste Segregation at Source: Many households and commercial establishments do not segregate waste. Unprocessed mixed waste enters landfills as a result.
  • Land Availability for Waste Processing Plants: Waste processing plants require large land parcels (30-40 acres each). Securing such large tracts of land is challenging in Delhi.
  • Public Awareness and Practices: There is a lack of public awareness regarding proper waste management practices. This leads to littering and improper disposal habits. MCD’s focus shifts to clearing open points rather than processing wet waste.
  • Inadequate Waste Collection Services: Some areas suffer from irregular waste collection services. This contributes to waste buildup and increased littering.
  • Illegal Dumping: Waste is often illegally dumped in open areas and water bodies. This increases the pressure on the MCD and requires additional resources for cleanup.

What efforts need to be made by MCD?

  • Need for a Decentralized Approach: Given the challenges of identifying large land parcels, Delhi will need to partner with its neighboring States to set up a few of these composting plants.
    • Additionally, the market for organic compost produced from wet waste lies in the neighboring States of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Need to work on Biodegradable Wet Waste: The design capacity for wet waste processing should be 9,000 TPD. This would require at least 18 composting or biogas plants (assuming each plant has a capacity of 500 TPD).
    • Significant efforts will be needed to identify land, establish composting facilities, and ensure their proper operation to prevent biodegradable waste from reaching landfills.
  • Need to work on Non-Biodegradable Dry Waste: Approximately 2% of dry waste is recyclable and should be sent to recycling facilities. The remaining 33% of non-recyclable dry waste (plastics, paper, textile waste) can be used as RDF for power generation in waste-to-energy projects.
  • Coordination Among Stakeholders: Improved coordination between various Municipal Corporations to streamline waste collection and segregation processes by collaborating with private companies and non-governmental organizations is needed to enhance waste segregation and processing efforts.

Conclusion: Already, Biomining Initiative was launched in 2019 by the MCD to reduce the amount of waste. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted these efforts. Originally planned for completion by 2024, now expected to take an additional two to three years.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What are the impediments in disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid wastes which are continuously being generated? How do we remove safely the toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment? (UPSC IAS/2018)

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Microscopic Realm: Nanoplastics in Bottled Water

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nanoplastics in Water Bottles

Mains level: Health and ecological hazards of Nanoplastics

Introduction

  • A recent study conducted by scientists at Columbia University sheds light on the pervasive presence of micro- and nano-plastics in bottled water, with nano-plastics comprising a staggering 90% of the detected particles.

What are Nanoplastics?

  • Definition: Nanoplastics, measured in billionths of a metre, are minuscule particles that evade detection by the naked eye, posing challenges for identification and quantification.
  • Comparative Analysis: Smaller than microplastics, nano-plastics exemplify dimensions that are 70 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, rendering them inconspicuous yet ubiquitous.

Key Findings

  • Elevated Concentration: Bottled water contains approximately 2.4 lakh micro- and nano-plastic particles per litre, highlighting a significant underestimation of plastic concentration compared to previous assessments.
  • Dominance of Nanoplastics: Nano-sized particles, previously overlooked by conventional imaging techniques, emerge as the predominant component, constituting 90% of the total plastic population.
  • Complex Particle Dynamics: Analysis reveals a diverse array of plastic compositions, shapes, and sizes, elucidating the intricate interplay between different plastic types within the aquatic environment.

How were they assessed?

  • Challenges in Analysis: Nanoplastics pose analytical challenges due to their diminutive size and the limitations of existing diagnostic methods.
  • Innovative Approach: Researchers utilize a custom hyperspectral Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) imaging platform to overcome these challenges, enabling detailed molecular analysis at the single-particle level.
  • Raman Scattering Principle: SRS microscopy leverages the Raman Effect, allowing for the identification of plastic particles based on their unique spectral signatures.

What is Raman Effect?

raman

  • Discovered by Sir C.V. Raman in 1928, it describes the scattering of light by molecules, resulting in a shift in wavelength due to energy exchange.
  • Raman Effect occurs spontaneously when light interacts with matter, causing a small fraction of light shift to longer or shorter wavelengths.
  • SRS is a controlled process where two laser beams with different frequencies interact with a material, amplifying the Raman signal.
  • Unlike the weak signal of the Raman Effect, SRS involves amplifying the Raman signal by the presence of pump and Stokes laser beams.
  • SRS find applications in various fields such as spectroscopy, microscopy, and chemical analysis, with SRS offering enhanced sensitivity and specificity due to its controlled nature.
  • India celebrates National Science Day on February 28 each year to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Sir C. V. Raman on 28 February 1928

Implications

  • Environmental Significance: The study underscores the pervasive nature of plastic pollution, with microplastics infiltrating ecosystems worldwide, including bottled water sources.
  • Biological Impact: Sub-micrometre plastic particles pose potential health risks, as they can traverse biological barriers and accumulate within living organisms.
  • Technological Advancements: The adoption of advanced imaging technologies enhances our understanding of nanoplastic dynamics, facilitating more accurate assessments of plastic pollution levels.

Try this question from CSP 2017

Q.Which Indian astrophysicist and Nobel laureate predicted rapidly rotating stars emit polarized light?

(a) Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

(b) CV Raman

(c) Ramanujan

(d) Amartya Sen

 

Post your answers here.
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Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Understanding the Psychology and Impact of Plastic Consumption  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

plastic

Central Idea

  • Pervasiveness of Plastic: Plastic, with its beneficial properties like durability, has become a ubiquitous part of modern life.
  • Environmental Impact: Approximately 50% of plastic is used only once before being discarded, contributing to significant environmental issues, including ocean pollution.

Psychological Aspects of Plastic Use

  • Consumer Behavior Influence: The omnipresence of plastic shapes consumer choices and behaviors, influenced by marketing strategies, packaging design, and product aesthetics.
  • Packaging and Brand Perception: Packaging plays a crucial role in plastic use, with visual appeal and brand image significantly impacting consumer preferences.
  • Color Psychology in Packaging: The use of color in packaging design evokes specific emotions and expectations, influencing purchasing decisions.

Convenience Factor and Limited Alternatives

  • Role of Convenience: Plastic packaging’s ability to keep products fresh and hygienic has been a key driver of its market dominance.
  • Lack of Economical Alternatives: The absence of affordable alternatives for food packaging often leaves consumers with no choice but to opt for plastic-wrapped items.

Pro-Environmental Behavior (PEB) and Plastic Use

  • Understanding PEB: Limiting plastic use and purchase is an example of pro-environmental behavior, influenced by awareness, knowledge, and values.
  • Factors Influencing PEB: Concern about plastic, knowledge of its effects, and the perceived commitment of others to address its impact play roles in shaping PEB.

Market Trends and Social Influences

  • Impulsive Buying and Social Media: The growth of social media and peer pressure have been linked to increased compulsive buying behaviors, often leading to increased plastic consumption.
  • Influence of Social Norms: Social norms promoting consumption have led to an increase in plastic use, despite its environmental costs.

Stages of Behavioral Readiness in Plastic Consumption

Five Stages of Readiness include-

  1. Pre-contemplation,
  2. Contemplation,
  3. Preparation,
  4. Action, and
  5. Maintenance.

Role of Storytelling and Marketing in Plastic Awareness

  • Emotional Engagement: Storytelling in marketing can emotionally engage customers with the lifecycle of plastic items, enhancing environmental awareness.
  • Positive and Negative Impacts: Marketing power can influence consumer behavior both positively and negatively in the context of plastic use.
  • Objective vs. Subjective Knowledge: Understanding the specifics of an issue (objective knowledge) versus personal belief or awareness (subjective knowledge) influences behavior.
  • Barriers to Action: Lack of personal connection, gradual environmental impact, moral disengagement, and immediacy issues are barriers to taking action against plastic pollution.

Way forward

  • Role of Education and Design: Knowledge is crucial, but behavioural change also depends on product design that encourages environmentally friendly choices.
  • Supplier and Retailer Responsibility: Minimizing packaging, using recyclable materials, and clear recycling instructions are key steps.
  • Policy Initiatives: Policies raising awareness of plastic pollution’s effects can facilitate a sustainability-focused behavioural shift.
  • Emergence of Sustainable Brands: As consumers increasingly look to brands for sustainable options, there is a growing market for environmentally conscious products.

Conclusion

  • Critical Role of Habit Change: Altering consumer habits is essential for environmental protection, requiring a multifaceted approach involving education, policy, and market innovation.
  • Sources: Insights drawn from the Sustainability and Consumer Behaviour Report 2022 by Deloitte United Kingdom and research by Mittali Tyagi, PhD Scholar at Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Status of Dumpsite Remediation across India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dumpsite Remediation, Methane Pollution

Mains level: Solid Waste Management

Dumpsite Remediation

Central Idea

  • Dumpsite remediation in India holds immense significance due to its profound impact on the environment, public health, and overall quality of life.
  • These unregulated dumpsites release harmful gases, pollute air and water, and pose severe health risks to nearby communities.

Dumpsite Remediation: Government Initiatives and Progress

  • Govt Commitment: The Indian government aims to remediate all dumpsites in the country by 2025 under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0.
  • Progress Overview: Over 82.7 million tonnes of waste have been remediated, reclaiming 3,477 acres of land.
  • State Progress: Mizoram has fully remediated its waste, while states like Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat have addressed 50-60% of their legacy waste.

Challenges and Complexities

  • Topographical Challenges: States with mountainous terrains like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Ladakh, and Jammu & Kashmir face difficulties in waste transport and utilization.
  • Economic Viability: Some states struggle to find economically viable disposal options for combustible fractions and fine soil-like material.
  • Waste Composition: Around 8% of legacy waste comprises combustible fractions.
  • Limited Co-Processing Units: India has 54 co-processing units, with only 13 states having operational units.

Benefits of Recovered Material

  • Construction and Filling Solutions: Repurposed fine soil-like material can be used in road construction and to stabilize flood-prone areas.
  • Improving Engineering Properties: Fine soil enhances roadbed engineering.
  • Elevation and Stabilization: Fine fraction elevates and stabilizes low-lying areas.

Another aspect: GHGs Emissions from Waste

Methane Emission Sources

  • Wastewater’s High Contribution: Wastewater treatment is a major source of methane emissions.
  • Organic Matter Decomposition: Methane is produced during organic matter decomposition in wastewater and solid waste disposal.
  • Solid Waste Disposal: Methane is generated in landfills, open dumps, and waste disposal sites.

Overall Methane Emissions in India

  • India’s Methane Emissions: In 2016, India emitted 409 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent methane.
  • Sector-Wise Breakdown: Agriculture contributed 73.96%, waste 14.46%, energy 10.62%, and industrial processes 0.96%.
  • Key Contributors: Open dumpsites and landfills are significant sources.

Lost Opportunities and Climate Impact

  • Persistent Methane Emissions: Even capped landfills emit methane due to biochemical reactions.
  • Untapped Energy Resource: Methane emissions represent missed energy opportunities.
  • Biogas Potential: 1 TPD of biodegradable waste can produce 80-100 cubic meters of biogas.
  • Environmental Harm: Disposing of biodegradable waste in landfills releases methane, a climate pollutant.

Harnessing Methane for a Sustainable Future

  • Bio-Methanation: Implementing bio-methanation processes can capture methane for various applications.
  • Beneficial Applications: Captured methane can be converted into bio-CNG, electricity, or other fuels.
  • Material Suitability: Recovered material must meet engineering and environmental standards.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with local regulations is essential.

Conclusion

  • Navigating Waste Remediation: India faces challenges and opportunities in dumpsite remediation. Addressing topographical barriers, ensuring economic viability, and maximizing material utilization are critical.
  • A Missed Opportunity: Dumpsites emit methane, a valuable energy resource. Proper waste management can mitigate climate impacts and unlock economic benefits.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition (RECEIC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Circular Economy Coalition

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition (RECEIC) was launched with 39 multinational corporations committing to resource efficiency and circular economy principles.

What is RECEIC?

  • Foundation: The RECEIC, conceived during India’s G20 Presidency, is an industry-led initiative with a global focus on promoting resource efficiency and circular economy practices
  • Objectives: It aims to address environmental issues arising from waste, such as plastics, microplastics, e-waste, and chemical waste.
  • Participation: 39 multinational corporations from sectors such as steel, FMCG, and electronics joined RECEIC’s launch.
  • Leadership: The coalition will be industry-led, with the government playing a supporting role.
  • Focus: The coalition aims to address environmental challenges arising from different types of waste through resource efficiency and circular economy principles.
  • Presence: Ministers from Mauritius, Denmark, Italy, Canada, UAE, France, and the European Union attended the event.

India’s measures in this regard

  • In 2021-22, India generated around 41 lakh tonnes of plastic waste, with 30 lakh tonnes allocated to registered recyclers and plastic waste processing units.
  • The Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022, established Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) guidelines to manage plastic waste effectively.
  • Plastic waste processors generated 2.6 million tonnes of EPR certificates, and purchased approximately 1.51 million tonnes of those certificates for 2022-23 obligations.

Also read:

[RSTV Archive] Circular Economy: Concept & Challenges

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530 districts reported free of Manual Scavenging: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Manual Scavenging in India

manual scavenging

Central Idea

  • The Social Justice Ministry revealed that while 530 districts have reported themselves as manual scavenging-free, a significant number of districts are yet to do so.
  • Despite the government’s assertion that manual scavenging-related deaths have not occurred in the last five years, fatalities during sewer and septic tank cleaning persist.

Manual Scavenging in India

  • Manual scavenging is the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewers or septic tanks.
  • India banned the practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR).
  • The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.
  • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.
  • The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a “dehumanizing practice,” and cites a need to “correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.”

Reasons for its persistence

  • Low Awareness and Marginalization: Manual scavenging is often carried out by marginalized sections of society who are unaware of their rights, making them vulnerable to exploitation.
  • Enforcement Issues: Weak enforcement of the Act and the exploitation of unskilled laborers contribute to the persistence of manual scavenging.
  • High Cost of Automation: The high cost of adopting automated cleaning methods in sewers is a deterrent for municipal authorities.
  • Cheaper Availability of Unskilled Labor: Contractors resort to illegal employment of unskilled labourers who are willing to work at lower wages, perpetuating the practice.
  • Caste Dynamics: The practice is reinforced by the existing caste hierarchy, with a majority of manual scavengers belonging to lower castes.

Various Policy Initiatives

  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: The proposed amendment seeks to mechanize sewer cleaning, provide on-site protection, and offer compensation in case of sewer-related deaths.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: This Act goes beyond dry latrine prohibitions and outlaws all forms of manual excrement cleaning in insanitary latrines, open drains, or pits.
  • Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan: The “Maila Mukti Yatra,” initiated in 2012, aims to eradicate manual scavenging nationwide, starting from Bhopal.
  • Prevention of Atrocities Act: This Act serves as protection for sanitation workers, as a significant number of manual scavengers belong to the Scheduled Caste.
  • Compensation: The PEMSR Act and the Supreme Court’s decision in the Safai Karamchari Andolan vs. Union of India case mandate compensation of Rs 10 lakh for victims’ families.
  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK): Investigating the conditions of waste collectors in India, the NCSK provides recommendations to the government.
  • Proper Distinction: The Ministry now recognizes the difference between sanitation work and manual scavenging.
  • Enumeration of Sanitization Workers: The enumeration of sanitation workers will be conducted in 500 AMRUT cities as part of the National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE).
  • NAMASTE Scheme: The NAMASTE scheme aims to eliminate unsafe sewer and septic tank cleaning practices, enhancing the safety and dignity of sanitation workers.

States and UTs with Pending Declaration of Manual Scavenging-Free Districts

  • Concerning Data: Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand are among the States and UTs with the highest number of districts yet to declare themselves as manual scavenging-free.
  • Disparity among States: While States like Bihar, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu have achieved 100% declaration of manual scavenging-free districts, several other States and UTs have reported only 15% to 20% of districts as free from the practice.

Way forward

  • Regular surveys and social audits must be conducted against the involvement of manual scavengers by public and local authorities.
  • There must be proper identification and capacity building of manual scavengers for alternate sources of livelihood.
  • Creating awareness about the legal protection of manual scavengers is necessary.

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Moving away from the ‘take-make-dispose’ model

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Key concepts such as EPR, circular bioeconomy and various government schemes

Mains level: Circular bioeconomy significance and India's efforts

model

What’s the news?

  • India has prioritized Resource Efficiency and the Circular Economy as one of its core themes during its G-20 presidency.

Central idea

  • In the pursuit of sustainable development and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, decoupling resource utilization from economic growth is crucial. Recognizing the urgency to transition from the take-make-dispose model to the reduce-reuse-recycle approach.

What is the take-make-dispose model?

  • The take-make-dispose model, also known as the linear economy model, refers to the traditional and linear approach to resource consumption and production in our economic system.
  • In this model, resources are extracted from nature (take), processed into products (make), used by consumers, and then discarded as waste (dispose) after their useful life.
  • It follows a one-way flow of resources from extraction to disposal without considering the long-term environmental and social impacts

What is the reduce-reuse-recycle approach?

  • The reduce-reuse-recycle approach is a sustainable waste management strategy that aims to minimize the environmental impact of resource consumption and waste generation.
  • It promotes a circular economy model by encouraging responsible resource use, extending the lifespan of products, and maximizing the recovery of materials to be used in new products.

What is meant by circular economy?

  • A Circular economy is an economic model that aims to maximize resource efficiency and minimize waste by promoting the reuse, recycling, and regeneration of materials and products. It is a departure from the traditional linear economy, where resources are extracted, processed, used, and disposed of as waste.

What is meant by circular bioeconomy?

  • Circular bioeconomy is an approach that seeks to combine the principles of circular economy with the use of renewable biological resources.
  • The Circular bioeconomy adopts a closed-loop system, where biological resources, such as organic waste and agricultural by-products, are managed in a way that maximizes their value and minimizes their impact on the environment.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

  • EPR is a policy approach that holds producers accountable for the entire life cycle of their products, including their post-consumer stage.
  • The concept of EPR shifts the responsibility for the management of products, especially waste and recycling, from the end-user or consumer to the manufacturer or producer.

India’s exemplary approach to EPR

  • Centralized EPR Portal: India has established a centralized EPR portal, where over 20,000 registered Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners (PIBOs) are actively participating in EPR initiatives. This centralization streamlines waste collection efforts and facilitates better coordination in managing waste materials.
  • Robust Framework: With over 1,900 plastic waste processors registered on the EPR portal, India boasts one of the largest frameworks for EPR implementation. This extensive network of processors contributes to efficient plastic waste management and recycling.
  • Significant EPR Obligation: The combined EPR obligation of registered PIBOs amounts to a substantial 3.07 million tons. This indicates a substantial commitment by producers to manage and recycle the waste generated from their products, contributing to sustainable waste management practices.
  • Comprehensive Rules for E-Waste and Battery Waste: In addition to plastic waste, India has also notified comprehensive rules for e-waste and battery waste management. This indicates a comprehensive approach to addressing various waste streams and promoting responsible waste management across different sectors.

Why is moving towards a circular Steel sector crucial?

  • Commitment to Net Zero Ambitions: Most G-20 member countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions, indicating a collective determination to address climate change and promote sustainability.
  • Improving Recycling Rates: To ensure environmentally responsible resource consumption, there is a need to raise the current recycling rates of steel, which currently range from 15% to 25%. Increased recycling can reduce the demand for new raw materials and lower the industry’s environmental impact.
  • Vital Role of Steel in Infrastructure: Given its crucial role in infrastructure development, the efficient utilization of steel is of utmost importance. A circular steel sector can optimize resource use and minimize waste generation.
  • Growing Steel Demand: With the global economy growing, the demand for steel, especially in developing economies like India, is expected to rise. Transitioning to a circular model becomes even more significant in managing this increased demand sustainably.
  • Tackling Steel Sector Emissions: About 7% of energy sector emissions globally are attributed to iron and steel production. A circular steel sector is a key strategy to address these emissions and reduce the industry’s overall carbon footprint.
  • Blueprint for a Net Zero Pathway: The presidential document on the Circular Economy in the Steel Sector serves as a potential blueprint to achieve a net-zero pathway for the steel industry.
  • Sharing Best Practices: As different countries have implemented various EPR models, sharing best practices among G-20 member countries becomes crucial to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the steel sector.

India’s efforts towards a circular bioeconomy and Biofuels

  • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana:
  • This initiative provides financial support to integrated bioethanol projects that aim to set up Second Generation (2G) ethanol projects.
  • 2G bioethanol technology allows for the production of bioethanol from waste feedstock, including crop residues and municipal solid waste, which would otherwise have no value.
  • Enhancing Value from Waste:
  • With 2G bioethanol technology, India maximizes the value derived from agricultural and urban waste, contributing to a more sustainable and circular economy.
  • By converting waste materials into bioethanol, the country promotes efficient resource utilization and minimizes waste disposal challenges.
  • Biomass Blending in Thermal Power Plants:
  • India has taken significant steps to promote the use of biomass in the energy sector.
  • It has made it mandatory for coal-burning thermal power plants to blend 5% of biomass pellets with coal.
  • This measure reduces carbon emissions and encourages the adoption of cleaner and renewable energy sources.
  • Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR) Dhan Scheme:
  • The GOBAR Dhan scheme plays a vital role in promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing pollution.
  • It involves the conversion of cattle dung and other organic waste into compost, biogas, and biofuels.
  • The scheme has led to the establishment of over 500 functional biogas plants, creating rural livelihood opportunities and ensuring improved sanitation.
  • Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Scheme:
  • Launched in 2018, the SATAT Scheme is a crucial step towards promoting greener transportation.
  • It aims to popularize Compressed BioGas (CBG) as an alternative green transportation fuel.
  • The scheme accelerates the development of infrastructure for the production, storage, and distribution of CBG, further supporting the bioenergy sector’s growth
  • Industry-Led Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Coalition:
  • Industries play a pivotal role in advancing resource efficiency and circular economy practices.
  • India’s vision of an industry-led coalition aims to foster technological collaboration, build advanced capabilities across sectors, mobilize de-risked finance, and encourage proactive private sector engagement.

The role of the G-20 in promoting a circular bioeconomy

  • Policy Coherence and Harmonization: By aligning policies related to bio-based products, waste management, and sustainable agriculture, the G-20 can promote consistent practices globally.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Best Practices: Members can learn from successful initiatives in other countries, accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies.
  • Technology Transfer: The G-20 can facilitate technology transfer between advanced and developing economies, enabling the adoption of advanced bio-based technologies in countries with fewer resources.
  • Collaboration with International Organizations: The G-20 can collaborate with international organizations like the UN and OECD to align circular bioeconomy strategies with broader global development goals, such as the SDGs.
  • Circular Agriculture and Food Systems: The G-20 can promote sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroecology and regenerative agriculture, to enhance food security, preserve biodiversity, and reduce agricultural waste

Conclusion

  • Global platforms like the G-20 are instrumental in addressing critical challenges and finding sustainable solutions through collaborative efforts. By prioritizing circularity in the steel sector, implementing effective EPR policies, fostering a circular bioeconomy, and forming industry-led coalitions, India sets a commendable example for other nations to follow in the journey towards a greener and more sustainable world.

Also read:

E-waste sector and Gender Justice

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Link between poor Solid Waste Management and Stray Dog Attacks

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Stray dog attack incidences

stray dog

Central idea: Several incidents of stray dog attacks in Indian cities have shed light on the link between urban solid waste management and the issue of stray dogs.

Stray Dog Attacks in India

  • Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population, which as per the official 2019 livestock census stood at 1.5 crore.
  • However, independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
  • The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
  • Experts agree there may be a correlation between urbanisation and solid waste production, made visible due to the mismanagement of waste disposal.
  • Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Reasons behind

  • Poor waste management: Inadequate waste disposal facilities and the mismanagement of solid waste often lead to the congregation of stray dogs around garbage dumps and landfills, where they scavenge for food.
  • Unplanned urbanization: The population boom in Indian cities has led to a sharp increase in the stray dog population. Rapid urbanization has led to the creation of slums and unmanaged solid waste, which attract dogs.
  • Lack of food and shelter: The availability of food and shelter determines the carrying capacity of a city. In the absence of these facilities, free-ranging dogs become scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
  • Territoriality: Stray dogs often become territorial and aggressive about public spaces where they are fed, leading to increased attacks on humans.
  • Improper sterilization and rescue centres: Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Food wastage in India

  • A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste production. Indian cities generate more than 150000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.
  • According to a 2021 UNEP report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers ended up in households, restaurants, vendors and other food service retailers’ bins in 2019.
  • Indian homes on average also generated 50 kg of food waste per person.
  • The presence of free-roaming dogs in urban areas is determined by the “carrying capacity” of a city, which is the availability of food and shelter.

Urban Stray Dogs and Waste Disposal

  • Food and shelter: The wastage food often serves as a source of food for hunger-stricken, free-roaming dogs that move towards densely-populated areas in cities, such as urban slums which are usually located next to dumping sites.
  • Sanitation assists food hunt: In the absence of proper sanitation and waste disposal facilities, stray dogs become scavengers that forage for food around exposed garbage dumping sites.

Impact of Unplanned and Unregulated Urban Development

  • ABC Program: Under Animal Birth Control (ABC) program, municipal bodies trap, sterilize, and release dogs to slow down the dog population. This approach aims to control the number of strays while avoiding the inhumane practice of killing them.
  • Rabies Control Measures: Another anchor of India’s response is rabies control measures, including vaccination drives. Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans through dog bites. Thus, preventing rabies is essential in addressing the issue of stray dogs.
  • Informal Measures: These include mass killing of dogs in states like Kerala, which is a controversial practice as it is often inhumane and does not address the root causes of the issue. Other measures include imposing bans on the entry of stray dogs in colonies or feeding them in public.

Why address stray dog attacks issue?

  • Adds Vulnerability to the poor: The disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums, which are usually located in close proximity to dumping sites.
  • Exposes harsher realities: The rise in such attacks speak to core issues of lack of serviced affordable urban housing for all, lack of safe livelihood options and improper solid waste management”.

Empathizing the strays

  • Abandoned, not strayed: Stray dogs are sentient social beings capable of feeling pain, fear, and joy. Urban living patterns have largely impacted their abandonment.
  • Subjected to abuse: They are often victims of neglect, abuse, and abandonment, and are forced to survive in harsh conditions on the streets.
  • Neglected community guardians: Stray dogs can serve as community guardians by alerting us to potential dangers and can also provide emotional support to humans.

Way forward

  • Improve waste management: Efficient management of solid waste can help reduce the availability of food for stray dogs and limit their population growth.
  • Increase vaccination and sterilization: ABC and vaccination programs should be implemented in a more organized and efficient manner to control the stray dog population and the spread of rabies.
  • Encourage responsible feeding practices: Regulating feeding around bakeries and restaurants and improving waste management in public spaces can reduce the carrying capacity of the environment for stray dogs and minimize the congregation of dogs in certain areas.
  • Develop national policy: There is a need for a comprehensive national policy that addresses the issue of stray dogs and their management in a more systematic and humane manner.
  • Stop gruesome brutality: Stopping brutality towards dogs is a crucial step towards creating a more compassionate and just management of stray dogs menace.

 

Also read:

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022. Why is it needed?

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What is Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Mains level: Not Much

pacific

Central idea: The article reports on a recent study which found evidence that coastal life forms have colonized plastic items in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast area in the North Pacific Ocean where plastic waste has accumulated due to ocean currents.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)?

Features
Location North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean
Currents Kuroshio, North Pacific, California, and North Equatorial currents, moving in a clockwise direction
Sources Any trash that enters one of these currents from any of the 51 Pacific Rim countries
Size Estimated to be 1.6 million sq. km
Age More than 50 years old
Plastic Content Estimated to contain 45,000-129,000 metric tonnes of plastic, predominantly in the form of microplastics
Visible Objects Heavier, more visible objects that haven’t yet broken down into smaller particles accounted for 92% in 2018

 

Findings of the new study

  • Researchers from Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.S. have reported that coastal life forms have colonized plastic items in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
  • From November 2018 to January 2019, they collected 105 pieces of plastic debris, the most heavily plastic-polluted ocean gyre on the globe.
  • Based on studying them, they reported that 98% of the debris items had invertebrate organisms.

Plastic inflicting into a coastal organism

  • Organisms found on coasts were getting by on small floating islands of garbage out in the Pacific Ocean, which the researchers named the neopelagic community.
  • They found organisms belonging to 46 taxa, and 37 of them were coastal; the rest were pelagic. Among both coastal and pelagic organisms, crustaceans were the most common.
  • Nearly all taxa were of Northwest Pacific origin, including Japan.
  • Eight of the remainder were from East Asia and five specifically from Japan. Four items were from North America.
  • They found that 68% of the coastal taxa and 33% of the pelagic taxa reproduced asexually and that there was evidence of sexual reproduction among the hydroids and the crustaceans, among others.

Implications of the findings

  • Marine plastic pollution has given rise to a new kind of standing coastal community in the open ocean.
  • The neopelagic community is not misplaced but lives on plastic items in the garbage patch, including reproducing there.
  • The finding recalls other studies that show the chemical bonding of plastic with rocks, sedimentary rocks embedded with plastic earrings in Brazil, and the formation of plastiglomerates in Hawaii.

 

What is neopelagic community?

  • The neopelagic community refers to the group of organisms that inhabit the open ocean or the pelagic zone beyond the continental shelf.
  • It is characterized by deep waters with very few physical structures or substrate for organisms to attach to.
  • This community includes a wide variety of organisms, including zooplankton, fish, squid, and marine mammals, among others.
  • These organisms have adapted to survive in the open ocean environment, which can be quite challenging due to factors such as temperature fluctuations, limited food availability, and the absence of physical structures for shelter.
  • The neopelagic community is an important part of the global marine ecosystem, playing a key role in nutrient cycling and energy transfer between different levels of the food chain.

 

GPGP and its impact on marine life

  • The GPGP has significant impacts on marine life due to the ingestion of plastic by marine animals, which can cause harm and even death.
  • Plastic can also entangle and suffocate marine animals, leading to the disruption of ecosystems.
  • The new study sheds light on the neopelagic community, which has adapted to living on plastic in the garbage patch.

Plastic pollution and its environmental impact

  • Plastic pollution is a major environmental issue that affects land and water ecosystems worldwide.
  • Plastic waste can take hundreds of years to decompose, and even then, it breaks down into microplastics that can persist in the environment indefinitely.
  • The presence of plastic in the environment has negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human health.

Conclusion

  • There are various solutions to plastic pollution, including reducing the use of single-use plastics, recycling, and promoting alternative materials.
  • Governments and industries can also take steps to reduce plastic waste, such as implementing policies and regulations that reduce plastic use and increase recycling.
  • Individual actions, such as reducing personal plastic consumption and properly disposing of plastic waste, can also make a difference.

 


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How to manage India’s Solar PV waste problem?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PV Waste composition

Mains level: Electronic waste in India

solar pv

Central idea: India is rapidly expanding its solar photovoltaic (PV) sector, but effective waste management strategies for this sector are still lacking. This article explores the challenges and gaps in solar PV waste management in India.

solar

Solar PV Waste in India

  • India has the world’s fourth-highest solar PV deployment, and the installed solar capacity was nearly 62 GW in November 2022.
  • A 2016 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that India could generate 50,000-3,25,000 tonnes of PV waste by 2030 and more than four million tonnes by 2050.
  • India’s solar PV installations are dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology, which mainly consists of a glass sheet, an aluminium frame, an encapsulant, a backsheet, copper wires, and silicon wafers.
  • A typical PV panel is made of c-Si modules (93%) and cadmium telluride thin-film modules (7%).

Hazards posed by PV waste

Some of the hazards of solar PV waste are:

  • Environmental pollution: The accumulation of solar PV waste in landfills can lead to environmental pollution, as the waste contains hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals. Incinerating the encapsulate also releases sulphur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and hydrogen cyanide into the atmosphere.
  • Health hazards: Improper handling and disposal of solar PV waste can lead to health hazards for workers and people living near the waste disposal sites. The toxic chemicals in the waste can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and other health issues.

Economy behind PV waste

  • Financial losses: Improper management of solar PV waste can lead to financial losses for the companies involved in waste collection and treatment. The lack of suitable incentives and schemes in which businesses can invest leads to a small market for repurposing or reusing recycled PV waste in India.
  • Resource depletion: The disposal of solar PV waste leads to the loss of valuable resources such as silicon, silver, and other critical materials, which can lead to resource depletion.

Recovery and Recycling of PV Waste

  • As PV panels near expiration, some portions of the frame are extracted and sold as scrap; junctions and cables are recycled according to e-waste guidelines; the glass laminate is partly recycled, and the rest is disposed of as general waste.
  • Silicon and silver can be extracted by burning the module in cement furnaces.
  • According to a 2021 report, approximately 50% of the total materials can be recovered.

Challenges particular to India

  • India faces challenges in the collection, storage, recycling, and repurposing of PV waste.
  • Only about 20% of the waste is recovered in general, and the rest is treated informally, leading to pollution of the surroundings.
  • Gaps in PV Waste Management-
  1. Generalized as e-waste: The clubbing of PV waste with other e-waste could lead to confusion, and there is a need for specific provisions for PV waste treatment within the ambit of e-waste guidelines.
  2. Hazards are ignored: PV waste is classified as hazardous waste in India, and there is a need for pan-India sensitisation drives and awareness programmes on PV waste management.

Why does India need to act now?

  • Considering the rate at which these panels are being installed around the country, India is expected to generate an enormous amount of waste over the next 20 years.
  • India is expected to become one of the top five leading photovoltaic waste producers worldwide by 2050.
  • Therefore, India needs to install clear policy directives, well-established recycling strategies, and greater collaboration, so that it doesn’t find itself caught unprepared against a new problem in the future.

Key recommendations

Policymakers should:

  • Introduce a ban on dumping of waste modules by different entities in the landfills.
  • Formulate a dedicated PV module waste management regulation.
  • Introduce incentives like green certificates to provide a level-playing field and encourage recycling and mineral recovery by the industry.

Industries should:

  • Improve the PV module design to minimise the waste at the disposal stage. This can include sustainable design with reduced use of toxic minerals or adopting a ‘design to disassemble’ approach.
  • Invest in the second-life use of sub-standard modules to delay waste creation.
  • Collaborate with research institutes to develop recycling techniques and support pilot demonstrations.
  • Conceptualise new business models to manage and finance the waste disposal.

Way forward

  • India needs to pay more attention to domestic R&D efforts as depending on a single module type will dis-uniformly deplete certain natural resources.
  • It is important to boost capacity for recycling and recover critical materials.
  • This can be achieved by-
  1. Formulating specific provisions for PV waste treatment,
  2. Pan-India sensitisation drives, and awareness programmes,
  3. Promoting domestic R&D efforts, and
  4. Providing appropriate infrastructure facilities and adequate funding.

 

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What is Biotransformation Technology?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Biotransformation Technology

Mains level: Not Much

bio

Central idea: The article highlights the issue of plastic waste generated by e-commerce giant Amazon and the need for a biotransformation technology that can make plastics biodegradable and its potential applications in reducing plastic waste in various industries.

Amazon’s Plastic Waste Problem

  • Amazon generated 321 million kilograms (709 million pounds) of plastic from packaging waste in 2021.
  • The amount of plastic waste generated by Amazon in 2021 is enough to circle the Earth over 800 times as air pillows.

What is Biotransformation Technology?

  • Biotransformation technology is a novel approach to ensure plastics that escape refuse streams are processed efficiently and broken down.
  • The technology was co-developed by Polymateria and the Imperial College in London, UK.
  • Plastics made using this technology are given a pre-programmed time during which the manufactured material looks and feels like conventional plastics without compromising on quality.
  • Once the product expires and is exposed to the external environment, it self-destructs and biotransforms into bioavailable wax, which is then consumed by microorganisms, converting waste into water, CO2, and biomass.
  • The technology is the world’s first that ensures polyolefins fully biodegrade in an open environment without causing any microplastics.

bio

Need for Biotransformation Technology

  • India generates 3.5 billion kgs of plastic waste annually, and a third of it comes from packaging waste.
  • In 2019, plastic packaging waste from e-commerce firms was estimated at over a billion kilograms worldwide.
  • Amazon generated nearly 210 million kgs (465 million pounds) of plastic from packaging waste in 2019.
  • Up to 10 million kgs (22.44 million pounds) of Amazon’s plastic packaging ended up in the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems as pollution in 2019.

Application of this technology

  • The food packaging and healthcare industries are the two prime sectors that could use this technology to reduce waste.
  • The increase in cost is relatively small compared to conventional plastic which does not contain this technology.
  • Some well-known Indian firms in the food and packaging industries deploy such technologies.
  • Within healthcare and pharma industries, this technology provides biodegradable solutions for non-woven hygiene products like diapers, sanitary napkins, facial pads, etc.

India’s initiatives to tackle plastic pollution

  • Phased elimination: The Indian government launched a plastic waste management gazette to help tackle the ever-growing plastic pollution caused by single-use plastics. The government imposed a ban on single-use plastics last year to bring a stop to its use in the country.
  • National Dashboard on Elimination of Single-Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management: It brings all stakeholders together to track the progress made in eliminating single-use plastic and effectively managing such waste.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) portal: It helps in improving accountability traceability, and facilitating ease of compliance reporting in relation to EPR obligations of the producers, importers, and brand-owners.
  • Lifecycle monitoring: India has developed a mobile app to report single-use plastics grievances to check the sale, usage, or manufacturing of single-use plastics in their area.

Alternatives to Reducing Plastic Waste

  • A switch to jute or paper-based packaging could potentially cut down plastic waste.
  • Wooden packaging is yet another alternative, but that will make the packaging bulkier and increase the cost.
  • The alternatives can be made using coir, bagasse, rice and wheat bran, plant and agricultural residue, banana and areca leaves.

 


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Why do so many Waste-to-Energy Plants fail?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Waste to energy conversion

waste

The Kerala government has announced its first waste-to-energy project in Kozhikode, which is expected to be built in two years and generate about 6 MW of power.

What are Waste-to-Energy Plants?

  • Waste-to-energy plants are facilities that use non-recyclable dry waste to generate electricity.
  • The process involves combusting the non-recyclable dry waste, which generates heat that is then converted into electricity.
  • These plants are used to increase a state’s power generation capacity while also easing the burden of solid waste management.

Feasibility of such plants

  • Waste-to-energy plants consume a portion of the non-recyclable dry waste generated in urban local bodies (ULBs) nearby.
  • These plants can be a good way to deal with the mountains of waste that Indian cities produce but require the unwavering support of the municipality, its residents, and the State to succeed.

Operational status in India

  • In India, solid waste is generally composed of 55-60% biodegradable organic waste, 25-30% non-biodegradable dry waste, and around 15% silt, stones, and drain waste.
  • However, despite there being around 100 waste-to-energy projects around the country, only a handful of them are operational, thanks to various production and operation challenges.

Why do such projects often fail?

  • Waste-to-energy projects often fail because of improper assessments, high expectations, improper characterisation studies, and other on-ground conditions.
  • They faces several challenges, such as-
  1. Low calorific value of solid waste in India due to improper segregation
  2. High costs of energy production, and
  3. Variable quantity of waste generated by cities due to multiple factors.

Various challenges

  • Improper segregation: The calorific value of mixed Indian waste is about 1,500 kcal/kg, which is not suitable for power generation. Waste-to-energy plants require segregated and dried non-recyclable dry waste, which has a calorific value of 2,800-3,000 kcal/kg. However, segregation of waste is often not done properly, which can lead to low-quality feedstock and reduced power generation.
  • High costs: The cost of generating power from waste is around Rs 7-8/unit, while the cost at which the States’ electricity boards buy power from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants is around Rs 3-4/unit. This high cost of energy production can make waste-to-energy projects less attractive compared to other sources of energy.
  • Low efficiency: Such projects have low efficiency due to the low calorific value of mixed waste, which reduces the amount of energy that can be generated. This can make it difficult to generate sufficient power to make the project financially viable.
  • Operational challenges: Such projects are often subject to operational challenges, such as improper assessments, high expectations, improper characterisation studies, and other on-ground conditions. The quantity of waste generated by cities varies due to multiple factors, including season, rainfall, and the floating population, which can make it difficult to get a consistent supply of feedstock.
  • Environmental concerns: Such plants can generate emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. Therefore, it is important to ensure that these plants operate with proper environmental controls in place.

Way forward

  • Proper segregation: To overcome these challenges, the municipality must ensure that only non-biodegradable dry waste is sent to the plant and separately manage the other kinds of waste.
  • Public awareness: The full support of the municipality, the State, and the people is crucial for the success of the project.
  • Extensive field studies: It is also necessary to conduct field studies and learn from the experience of other projects.
  • All-stakeholders collaboration: There should be a tripartite agreement between the municipality, the plant operator, and the power distribution agency to optimise cost per unit of power.

 

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Why are India’s garbage landfill burning?

landfill

The Kochi landfill site has caught fire. This is a stark reminder that Indian cities need to be prepared for more such incidents as summer approaches.

What are Landfills?

  • Garbage landfills, also known as waste disposal sites or dumps, are areas where waste materials are disposed of by burying them in the ground.
  • They are designed to contain and isolate the waste from the surrounding environment, preventing the spread of pollutants and contamination of soil and water sources.
  • Garbage landfills are commonly used for the disposal of non-hazardous municipal solid waste, such as household trash, construction debris, and yard waste.
  • However, they can also be used for the disposal of hazardous waste and other types of industrial waste, depending on the regulations and restrictions in place.

Is landfilling best way for waste management?

  • Landfilling is not considered the best way for garbage disposal, as it can have negative environmental impacts.
  1. Landfills take up space
  2. Release harmful gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, and
  3. Contaminate groundwater and soil if not properly managed
  • Landfills can emit odours and create noise pollution, which can impact nearby communities.

Alternative methods for garbage disposal

  • Recycling: This involves the separation of waste materials such as plastics, glass, metals, and paper from the general waste stream, and processing them into new products.
  • Composting: This is the process of breaking down organic waste materials such as food scraps, yard waste, and paper into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
  • Waste-to-energy: This involves the conversion of waste into energy through incineration, gasification, or pyrolysis. The energy produced can be used to generate electricity or heat.
  • Landfill gas recovery: This involves the collection and use of methane gas produced by decomposing waste in landfills to generate electricity or heat.
  • Mechanical biological treatment: This is a process that combines mechanical and biological processes to separate and treat waste materials, producing compost and recyclable materials.
  • Anaerobic digestion: This is a biological process that breaks down organic waste in the absence of oxygen, producing biogas and fertilizer.

Landfills in India

landfill

  • Indian municipalities collect more than 95% of the waste generated in cities.
  • The efficiency of waste processing is 30-40% at best.
  • Indian municipal solid waste consists of about 60% biodegradable material, 25% non-biodegradable material, and 15% inert materials.
  • Municipalities are expected to process wet and dry waste separately and have recovered by-products recycled.

Why do Indian landfills often catch fire in summers?

  • The rate of processing in India’s cities is far lower than the rate of waste generation.
  • Unprocessed waste remains in open landfills for long periods.
  • Openly disposed waste includes flammable material like low-quality plastics and rags and clothes.
  • In summer, the biodegradable fraction composts much faster, increasing the temperature of the heap.
  • Higher temperature and flammable material increase the chance for the landfill to catch fire.
  • Some fires have been known to go on for months.

Is there a permanent solution?

There are two possible permanent solutions to manage landfill fires.

  1. Completely cap the material using soil and close landfills in a scientific manner: This solution is unsuitable in the Indian context as the land can’t be used again for other purposes. Closed landfills have specific standard operating procedures, including managing methane emissions.
  2. Clear the piles of waste through bioremediation: Excavate old waste and use automated sieving machines to segregate the flammable refuse-derived fuel (RDF), such as plastics, rags, clothes, etc., from biodegradable material. The recovered RDF can be sent to cement kilns as fuel, while the bio-soil can be distributed to farmers to enrich soil. The inert fraction will have to be landfilled.

Some immediate measures to manage landfill fires

  • Divide the site into blocks: Based on the nature of waste, separate fresh waste from flammable material and capping portions with soil to reduce the chance of fire spreading across blocks.
  • Cap the most vulnerable part of the landfill: That contains lots of plastics and cloth, with soil.
  • Provide enough moisture to the fresh-waste block: By sprinkling water and regularly turn the material for aeration to cool the waste heap.
  • Classify incoming waste: On arrival and dispose of it in designated blocks rather than dumping mixed fractions.
  • Send to kilns on time: Send already segregated and baled non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste to cement kilns instead of allowing it to accumulate at the site.

Way forward

  • Sites should be equipped with water tankers with sprinklers for immediate action.
  • The municipality should work with the nearest fire department and have a plan of action in advance.
  • Waste-processing workers (plant operators, segregators, etc.) should have basic fire safety and response training.
  • People around landfill sites should also be trained and equipped to safeguard themselves during fires.
  • The municipality should have routine round-the-clock video surveillance of the most flammable portion of the landfill.
  • Flammable material like chemical waste, match sticks, and lighters should not enter the site.
  • Machines at the site, like sieves and balers, should be cleaned and moved away from the flammable material.
  • On-site staff and security personnel should be housed away from the flammable portion.

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Marine pollution: An Alarming Situation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Single use plastic and Plastic waste to marine environment

Marine

Context

  • A significant portion of single-use plastic gets piled up on coastlines and contributes to the growing burden of marine litter, endangering aquatic biodiversity. In India, anthropogenic activities add approximately eight million tonnes of plastic waste to the marine environment.

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Plastic pollution menace

  • The demand for plastic products has grown drastically in the last few decades: The possible reasons for this dramatic surge can be attributed to its durability, flexibility, lightness and affordability.
  • Plastic production and generation: Globally, the annual production of plastic reached 460 million tonnes in 2019 and 353 million tonnes of plastic waste were also generated in the same year.
  • Approximately 50% is dumped in landfills: Approximately 50 per cent of plastic waste generated in the same year was dumped in landfills, according to the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development.
  • First use plastic: In 2021-22, India’s plastic demand was 20.89 million tonnes. About 40 per cent of this gets added to plastic waste after the first use, a Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment had found.

Key sources of Marine pollution

  • Land based sources: Land-based sources such as dumpsites located near the coastlines or banks of a river, flood waters, industrial outfalls, discharge from storm water drains, untreated municipal sewerage, beach litter, tourism, fishing, ship breaking yards, defence-related facilities, automobiles, industrial wastes, natural events, etc are the main factors contributing to the menace of marine litter.
  • Sea based sources: In addition to this, sea-based sources such as waste from ships, fishing vessels and other public transport and research facilities; offshore mining and extraction; legal and illegal waste dumping; ghost nets, natural events, etc add to it.

Marine

Alarming situation

  • There may be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050: Tributaries of major Indian rivers also carry around 15-20 per cent of plastic waste into the marine environment. If this trend continues, there may be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050, warned many recent researchers on this front.
  • Microplastics in food chain: Marine debris can transcend international borders and disperse to faraway locations from its place of origin. Since marine species consume microplastics, they can eventually sweep into our food chain.
  • Bioaccumulation of chemicals endangers Human health: Additionally, leached chemicals may also bioaccumulate in these species and endanger human health.

Marine

Government efforts so far

  • Banned single use plastic: From July 1, 2022, the Union government banned the manufacturing, selling, use and storage of 19 identified single-use plastic items. Still, the ban is not effective as prohibited items have been found in use in almost every Indian city.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM): The central and state governments have already allocated a SBM and disbursed more than Rs 3,000 crore on public awareness campaigns and coastal area cleaning drives.
  • Coastal cleaning programme: The National Centre for Coastal Research, a body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, led a coastal cleaning programme covering 7,500 kilometres.

Did you know?

  • Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar, a 75-day citizen-led campaign for improving ocean health through collective action, was launched on July 5, 2022.
  • It has three strategic underlying goals that target transformation and environmental protection through behaviour change.
  • The three underlying goals of the campaign are, consume responsibly, segregate waste at home and dispose of it responsibly.

Way forward

  • Enlisting multi-layered plastic packaging in banned list: The government needs to enlist multi-layered plastic packaging items in the list of banned items; only 19 plastic items have been considered as of now.
  • Effective enforcement: Effective enforcement and penalty against defaulters is required as the government has already spent a lot on public awareness campaigns in the last six year.
  • Strict monitoring of CRZ: There should be strict implementation and monitoring of Coastal Regulation Zone and Special Area Planning guidelines in order to curb haphazard constructions along the coastlines. A National Marine Litter Policy needs to be formulated as early as possible.

Marine

Conclusion

  • A long-term vision plan should be developed for promoting partnerships among coastal towns, cities and urban administration for the reduction of marine litter and the creation of sustainable waste management ecosystems. Marine litter is complicated and a multi-layered problem has to be arrested at the earliest to safeguard the health of humans as well as the environment.

Mains question

Q. Marine litter is complicated and a multi-layered problem has to be arrested at the earliest to safeguard the health of humans as well as the environment. Discuss.

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Marine Plastic Waste Problem of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Marine Plastic pollution

Mains level: Marine Plastic pollution, reasons and initiatives by Government

Plastic

Context

  • India generates 55 million tonnes of municipal waste, of which only 37 per cent is treated, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. Only 60 per cent of the total collected plastic waste is recycled, while the fate of the remaining 40 per cent is not accounted.

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Geographical location and trade of India

  • Huge coastline: India has a coastline spanning 7,517 kilometres. It is spread across eight states and borders a 2.02 million square kilometre of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Large coastal population: India’s eight coastal states house a population of 420 million. Of this, about 330 million live on or within 150 km of a coast. Three in four metro cities of the country are located on the coast. Coastal districts are home to nearly 14.2 per cent of the country’s total population.
  • High trade waters and oceans: Around 95 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent by value is executed through waterways.

Reasons for marine Plastic pollution

  • Rapid urbanization and changing lifestyle: Growing population, rapid urbanisation, shifting consumption pattern and changing lifestyles have resulted in the mismanagement of plastic waste, leading to the accumulation of municipal solid waste.
  • Most plastic through land-based source: Most of these items, especially plastic items, contribute significantly to the growing burden of marine debris. Land-based sources account for most of the plastic in the water.
  • Unfiltered waste carried by rivers: Unaccounted waste from urban agglomerations is carried by river systems to oceans for final dumping.
  • High percentage of dumping of garbage: The country’s coastline contributes to its ecological richness, biodiversity and economy. Every year, thousands of tonnes of garbage, composed of plastics, glass, metals, sanitary products, clothes, etc., are dumped into it. However, plastics contribute a major portion of about 60 per cent of the total marine debris that reaches the oceans.

Initiatives by Government

  • Beach clean-up initiatives: The Ministry of Earth Sciences, through its attached office National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), has undertaken beach clean-up initiatives, awareness programmes and beach litter quantification studies at regular intervals.
  • Scientific study on marine pollution: Many studies have been conducted across coastal states and U Territories Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. NCCR has initiated monitoring of the temporal and spatial distribution of marine litter along the Indian coasts and adjacent seas in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
  • Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar campaign: An average of 0.98 metric tonnes of trash per km stretch of coastline, averaging a weight concentration of 0.012 kilograms per metre square, accumulated along the Indian coastline, noted Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar campaign, 2022.
  • Attempt by TREE foundation: Attempts made by some organisations in rescuing marine species from the debris are worth mentioning. TREE Foundation, a Chennai-based non-profit, has been incessantly working on this. Their efforts on this front have shed light on the magnitude of the problem of ghost nets.
  • Stakeholders approach: Over the last 20 years, through a multi-disciplinary approach involving people from all sections of society particularly unemployed youth from artisanal fishing communities, the foundation has saved and released more than 3,101,000 Olive Ridley turtles.

What should be the way forward?

  • National Marine litter Policy of India: The National Marine litter Policy of India, announced in 2018, should be formulated.
  • Plastic distribution study: Marine litter and microplastics distribution and characterization study should be conducted across the Indian coast.
  • Coastal city forum: A forum of coastal cities should be created for ensuring cross-learning ecosystem and to build a synergetic association of urban local bodies and local administration located on the coast.
  • Long term vision plan: A long-term vision plan should be developed for promoting partnerships among coastal towns, cities and urban administration for the reduction of marine litter and the creation of sustainable waste management ecosystems. Initiatives like a multi-stakeholder approach that will recognize knowledge, expertise, technology, research, capacity building and advocacy as key drivers to safeguard life below water can be beneficial.
  • Awareness campaign: Regular beach clean-up and awareness programmes should be conducted instead of annual ones.
  • Effective ban: Many states claim Single Use Plastic above 50 microns is banned, but on the ground, the ban is not effective. Steps can be taken to execute such legislations.

Conclusion

  • Marine plastic pollution is killing the marine ecosystem, animals, plants and corals etc. apart from ocean trade land based plastic generation should be priorities while managing the marine pollution. Present approach of governments across the world is less than sufficient to tackle marine pollution.

Mains Question

Q. What are some of the initiatives to tackle the marine pollution in India? suggest the way forward to handle the menace of marine pollution.

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E-waste sector and Gender Justice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: E- waste and gender justice

E-waste

Context

  • According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, out of the total 56.3 million tonnes of discarded e-waste products generated in 2019, only 17.4 percent was officially recorded as being collected and recycled. The rest end up in landfills, in scrap trade markets or are recycled by the informal markets.

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E-waste in India

  • Third largest contributor: India is the third largest contributor to this great wall of waste after China and the United States (US) with a whopping 1,014,961.21 tonnes generated in 2019-2020, out of which only 22.7 percent was collected, recycled or disposed of.
  • More than 12 million workers: For the 12.9 million women working in the informal waste sector, Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE’s) are lifelines as it contains valuable recyclable metals notwithstanding the detrimental effects it can have on health and the environment.

E-waste and Burden on women

  • Less women in value chain: Inequalities are particularly pronounced in this largely gender-neutral sector across the value chain which is heightened by the barriers in decision-making roles.
  • Negligible percent of women: With reliable data hard to come by from this sector recent reports indicate that an estimated 0.1 percent of waste pickers account for India’s urban workforce with women populating the lower tiers in this economy as collectors and crude separators at landfill sites.
  • Men at skilled position: Men unsurprisingly dominate the entire spectrum of skilled positions as managers, machinery operators, truck drivers, scrap dealers, repair workers and recycling traders.
  • Women mostly from poor background: Workers in this ‘grey sector’ are some of the most marginalised, poverty-stricken, uneducated people from vulnerable backgrounds with little social or financial security. They remain unprotected at their workplaces, and often are victims of sexual abuse with no bargaining power in selling their goods. All of these factors then act upon their exclusion as cities begin to formalise the waste sector to effectively control discarded goods.

E-waste

E-waste Impact on Health

  • Incineration and leaching: Open incineration and acid leeching often used by informal workers are directly impacting the environment and posing serious health risks, especially to child and maternal health, fertility, lungs, kidney and overall well-being.
  • Occupational health hazards: In India, many of these unskilled workers who come from vulnerable and marginalised are oblivious to the fact that that what they know as ‘black plastics’ have far reached occupational health hazards especially when incinerated to extract copper and other precious metals for their market value.
  • Exposures to children: This ‘tsunami of e-waste rolling out of the world’, as described in an international forum on chemical treaties, poses several health hazards for women in this sector as they are left exposed to residual toxics elements mostly in their own households and often the presence of children.
  • Constant contact with organic pollutants: According to a recent WHO report, a staggering 18 million children, some as young as five, often work alongside their families at e-waste dumpsites every year in low- and middle-income countries. Heavy metals such as lead, as well as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), like dioxins, and flame retardants (PBDEs) released into the environment, have also added to air, soil, and water pollution.

Laws and regulations related to E-waste

  • India’s E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016: Released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) flagged e-waste classification, extended producer responsibility (EPR), collection targets, and restrictions on imports of e-wastes containing hazardous substances.
  • Amendment to Rules: The amended Electronic Waste Management Draft Rules 2022, expected to come into effect by early next year has also emphasised on improving end-of-life waste throughout the circular economy.
  • Lack of clear guidelines: These progressive measures, however, lack clear guidelines on the role of informal recyclers and have particularly blind sighted the role of women creating a lacuna in equitable growth.
  • The Beijing Platform of Action: It is worth mentioning that The Beijing Platform of Action clearly maintains that a properly designed e-waste processing system can meet both economic and environmental goals to improve the status of women in the informal economy. Sculpting this blueprint in a variegated social and cultural milieu can perhaps play out to examine best practices and success stories around the world.

E-waste

How to make E-waste sector more gender inclusive

  • Ownership of supply chain: The social stigma attached to this sector progressively manifests in discrimination and loss of dignity. Women lack ownership at the end of the value chain as business owners of material processing units nor have access to capital for starting business ventures.
  • Separate policy for ground workers: Educating the un-educated takes more than simply designing training modules, skill development and generating awareness about e-waste should be tailored to run at ground-zero where workers operate without disrupting their daily work schedules.
  • Gendered data collection: All of these factors compounded by the severe lack of gender-disaggregated data necessitate earmarked gender budgeting to shape an inclusive e-waste management system.

Conclusion

  • The concept of the 3R’s, Reduce, Reuse, recycle as envisaged under Mission LiFE will have to invest in women as drivers of a responsible waste management economy, recognising their critical role to minimise the quantum of waste with the ultimate objective of zero waste.

Mains Question

Q. Analyze the gender inequality in the E-waste sector? What are the ways to make e-waste sector more gender Inclusive?

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Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EnviStats, Hazardous effects of Solid Waste on environment and Health

Mains level: Municipal Solid Waste, rules and management

Solid Waste

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Context

  • 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.

Solid Waste

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.

Solid Waste

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 non‐biodegradable, 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.

Conclusion

  • 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.

Mains Question

Q. Briefly discuss the solid waste management rule 2016. Analyse the performance of various state on SWM based on ‘EnviStats India 2022’ report.

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Groundwater Extraction Lowest in 18 years

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Groundwater in India

Mains level: Read the attached story

groundwater

Groundwater extraction in India saw an 18-year decline, according to an assessment by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

What is Groundwater?

groundwater

  • Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock.
  • It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.
  • Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock, like limestone.
  • Water can move through these materials because they have large connected spaces that make them permeable.
  • Aquifers, hand-dug wells, and artesian wells are different types of sources of groundwater.

Declining trend of groundwater extraction

  • The total annual groundwater recharge for the entire country is 437.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2022.
  • However the extraction for entire country is only 239.16 bcm, according to the 2022 CGWB report.
  • By comparison, an assessment in 2020 found that the annual groundwater recharge was 436 bcm and extraction 245 bcm.
  • The 2022 assessment suggests that groundwater extraction is the lowest since 2004, when it was 231 bcm.

Implications of the CGWB report

  • A detailed analysis of the assessment indicates increase in ground water recharge.
  • This is mainly attributed to:
  1. Increase in recharge from canal seepage,
  2. Return flow of irrigation water and
  3. Recharges from water bodies/tanks & water conservation structures.

Significance of groundwater

  • Groundwater supplies drinking water to a sizeable population in India and almost 99% of the rural population.
  • It helps grow our food. 64% of groundwater is used for irrigation to grow crops.
  • It is an important component in many industrial processes.
  • It is a source of recharge for lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Why discuss this?

  • Depletion: People face serious water shortages because groundwater is used faster than it is naturally replenished.
  • Contamination: In other areas groundwater is polluted by human activities.

Reasons for Depletion

  • Increased demand for water for domestic, industrial and agricultural needs and limited surface water resources lead to the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • Limited storage facilities owing to the hard rock terrain, along with the added disadvantage of lack of rainfall, especially in central Indian states.
  • Green Revolution enabled water-intensive crops to be grown in drought-prone/ water deficit regions, leading to over-extraction of groundwater.
  • Frequent pumping of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Subsidies on electricity and high MSP for water-intensive crops is also leading reasons for depletion.
  • Inadequate regulation of groundwater laws encourages the exhaustion of groundwater resources without any penalty.
  • Deforestation, unscientific methods of agriculture, chemical effluents from industries, and lack of sanitation also lead to pollution of groundwater, making it unusable.
  • Natural causes include uneven rainfall and climate change that are hindering the process of groundwater recharge.

Impact of groundwater depletion

  • Lowering of the water table: Groundwater depletion may lower the water table leading to difficulty in extracting groundwater for usage.
  • Reduction of water in streams and lakes: A substantial amount of the water flowing in rivers comes from seepage of groundwater into the streambed. Depletion of groundwater levels may reduce water flow in such streams.
  • Subsidence of land: Groundwater often provides support to the soil. When this balance is altered by taking out the water, the soil collapses, compacts, and drops leading to subsidence of land.
  • Increased cost for water extraction: As the depleting groundwater levels lower the water table, the user has to delve deep to extract water. This will increase the cost of water extraction.

Regulation of Groundwater in India

(1) Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)

  • It has the mandate of regulating ground water development and management in the country.
  • It is constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.
  • CGWA issues advisories, public notices and grant No Objection Certificates (NOC) for ground water withdrawal.

(2) National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM)

  • The NAQUIM is an initiative of the Ministry of Jal Shakti for mapping and managing the entire aquifer systems in the country.
  • It maintains the Hydrological Map of India.

(3) Atal Bhujal Yojana 

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme, for sustainable management of groundwater resources with community participation in water-stressed blocks.

Way Forward

  • Routine survey: There should be regular assessment of groundwater levels to ensure that adequate data is available for formulating policies and devising new techniques.
  • Assessment of land use pattern: Studies should be carried out to assess land use and the proportion of agricultural land falling under overt-exploited units.
  • Changes in farming methods: To improve the water table in those areas where it is being overused, on-farm water management techniques and improved irrigation methods should be adopted.
  • Reforms in power supply subsidies: The agricultural power-pricing structure needs to be revamped as the flat rate of electricity adversely affects the use of groundwater.
  • Monitoring extraction: There should be a policy in place to monitor the excessive exploitation of groundwater resources to ensure long-term sustainability.

 

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The solution to the E-waste problem lies in scientific recycling

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: E-waste applications and impacts

Mains level: E-waste problems, and scientific recycling,advantages and disadvantages

E-wasteContext

  • International E-Waste Day is held on October 14 every year as an opportunity to reflect on the impacts of e-waste. This year’s slogan is ‘Recycle it all, no matter how small!
  • Hoarding of small, unused, dead or broken plug-in and battery-operated products is the focus of this year’s 5th annual International E-Waste Day.

What is mean by E-Waste?

  • E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.”Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Why E-waste is important?

  • Highly valuable metals: E-waste is a rich source of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, which can be recovered and brought back into the production cycle. There is significant economic potential in the efficient recovery of valuable materials in e-waste and can provide income-generating opportunities for both individuals and enterprises.
  • No harm if stored safely: It is said that the electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) after their useful life does not cause any harm to health and the environment if it is stored safely in households/stores. If the end of life EEE (e-waste) is opened-up and unscientific methods are used for extraction of precious and semi-precious material from it, then it causes health risks and damage to the environment.

E-wasteWhy E-waste is hazardous to environment and health?

  • Highly toxic in nature: E-waste can be toxic, is not biodegradable and accumulates in the environment, in the soil, air, water and living things.
  • Adverse effects on health: High levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage and diminished IQs.etc.
  • Adverse effects on environment: There are problems with toxic materials leaching into the environment. For example, open-air burning and acid baths being used to recover valuable materials from electronic components release toxic materials leaching into the environment.
  • Plastic used in electronics highly Hazardous: Hazardous chemicals such as bromine, antimony and lead are applied to electronics like laptops and music systems as flame retardants. They find their way into food-contact items and other everyday products as the demand for black plastics in consumer products is met partly by sourcing from e-waste.

According to the study conducted by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum

  • Non-profit Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum is an international association of 46 e-waste producer responsibility organizations which started the day in 2018.
  • According WEEE studies: Roughly 5.3 billion mobile/smartphones will drop out of use this year.The electronics would reach a height of around 50,000 km if stacked flat and on top of each other. That’s an eighth of the distance to the moon.
  • WEEE Survey:The forum surveys conducted to reveal why so many households and businesses fail to bring in for repair or recycling. The results were consolidated by the United Nations’ Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Sustainable Cycles Programme.
  • Results of WEEE surveys: Of 8,775 European households in six countries, the average household contains 74 e-products. Of 74 average total e-products, 13 are being hoarded. This is the story almost everywhere.The top five hoarded small electronic products were (in order): small electronics and accessories (eg, headphones, remotes), small equipment, small IT equipment (eg, hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice), mobile and smartphones, small food preparation appliances .LED lamps ranked the top of the list of products most likely to be trashed.

E-wasteWhat is the present status of E-waste in India?

  • Statistics: Approximately 8 lakh tonnes per annum of plastic waste is recycled and 1.67 lakh tonnes per annum is co-processed in Cement Kilns, said the government. There are 468 authorised dismantlers/recyclers in 22 states having a processing capacity of 13.85 lakh tonnes of e-waste in the country.
  • The e-waste management rules: The e-Waste (Management) Rules were notified in 2016 which got amended from time to time. So far, the Environment Ministry has notified 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) as e-waste
  • No recent studies on the pollution caused by e-waste: In the recent Parliament session, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey in his reply to Kerala Rajya Sabha member V Sivadasan (CPM) said no study has been carried out by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to assess the damage caused to the environment by e-waste.

Current scenario and issues in E-waste recycling

  • Crude and Scrappage: As of today, some 95% of e-waste is managed by the informal sector which operates under inferior working conditions and relies on crude techniques for dismantling and recycling.
  • Infrastructure lacunae: Another important issue is the lack of sufficient metal processing infrastructure which is why recyclers have to export materials to global smelters.
  • Price competencies: As aggregators are mostly informal, they demand up-front cash payments.
  • Bloomed informal network: The informal network is well-established and rests on social capital ties that PROs have yet to establish and are hence insulated from reaching the viable number of aggregators.
  • Policy failure: Policy changes have tried repeatedly to formalize the sector, but issues of implementation persist on the ground.

E-wasteWay forward

  • Effective design: Since India is highly deficient in precious mineral resources, there is a need for a well-designed, robust and regulated e-waste recovery regime that would generate jobs and wealth.
  • Consumer responsibility: The consumers must responsibly consume the product for its useful life and then weigh between the chances of repair or disposal with utmost consciousness towards the environment.
  • Recyclable products: On the supply side, e-waste can be reduced when producers design electronic products that are safer, and more durable, repairable and recyclable.
  • Reuse: Manufacturers must reuse the recyclable materials and not mine rare elements unnecessarily to meet new production.
  • Commercial recycling: Rather than hoping that informal recyclers become formal it would be more feasible for companies and the state to design programs ensure e-waste easily makes its way to proper recyclers.

Conclusion

  • Concerted efforts are important to generate a momentum of sustained efforts towards increasing disposal through formal and scientific channels and catalyzing sustainable consumption patterns is the need of the hour.

Mains Question

Q.The size and complexity of the e-waste problem are growing at a much quicker rate than the efficacy of strategies to contain it. Discuss the impact of unscientific recycling of E-waste on Environment and human health.

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Public dashboard to track remediation of legacy Landfills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Landfills

Mains level: Hazards of landfill

landfill

The remediation of all legacy landfills in India are in full swing and a public dashboard on the progress at 2,200 such sites is in the offing.

What are Landfills?

  • A landfill site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials.
  • Some landfill sites are also used for waste management purposes, such as temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or for various stages of processing waste material, such as sorting, treatment, or recycling.

Threats posed by landfills

Landfills have the potential to cause a number of issues. Infrastructure disruption, such as damage to access roads by heavy vehicles, may occur amongst others.

1) Leachate

  • When precipitation falls on open landfills, water percolates through the garbage and becomes contaminated with suspended and dissolved material, forming leachate.
  • If this is not contained it can contaminate groundwater.

2) Decomposition gases

  • Rotting food and other decaying organic waste create decomposition gases, especially CO2 and CH4 from aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, respectively.
  • Both processes occur simultaneously in different parts of a landfill.

3) Other threats

  • Poorly run landfills may become nuisances because of vectors such as rats and flies which can spread infectious diseases.
  • The occurrence of such vectors can be mitigated through the use of daily cover.
  • Other potential issues include wildlife disruption due to occupation of habitat and animal health disruption caused by consuming waste from landfills, dust, odour, noise pollution, and reduced local property values.

Why clear landfills?

  • Once removed, the sites would free up 15,000 acres of land.
  • For instance, the largest such landfill, in Mumbai, is spread over 300 acres and contains 2.60 crore tonnes of waste.
  • Delhi’s three landfills — Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla — contain around 2.8 crore tonnes of waste.

What is landfill remediation?

The most common methods for the remediation of landfills include:

  • Excavation to recover recyclable materials
  • Capping to reduce leachate generation
  • Air sparging and soil vapor extraction to capture and remediate gases and
  • Pump-and-treat of the leachate-contaminated plume

Significance of the portal

  • Through the portal, citizens would be able to track the progress of their cities’ action plans for remediation of legacy landfills.
  • The plans cover everything from remediation to the eventual reuse of the land.

 

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The solution to the E-waste problem lies in scientific recycling

E-waste

Context

  • International E-Waste Day is held on October 14 every year as an opportunity to reflect on the impacts of e-waste. This year’s slogan is ‘Recycle it all, no matter how small!
  • Hoarding of small, unused, dead or broken plug-in and battery-operated products is the focus of this year’s 5th annual International E-Waste Day.

What is mean by E-Waste?

  • E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.”Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Why E-waste is important?

  • Highly valuable metals: E-waste is a rich source of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, which can be recovered and brought back into the production cycle. There is significant economic potential in the efficient recovery of valuable materials in e-waste and can provide income-generating opportunities for both individuals and enterprises.
  • No harm if stored safely: It is said that the electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) after their useful life does not cause any harm to health and the environment if it is stored safely in households/stores. If the end of life EEE (e-waste) is opened-up and unscientific methods are used for extraction of precious and semi-precious material from it, then it causes health risks and damage to the environment.

Why E-waste is hazardous to environment and health?

  • Highly toxic in nature: E-waste can be toxic, is not biodegradable and accumulates in the environment, in the soil, air, water and living things.
  • Adverse effects on health: High levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage and diminished IQs.etc.
  • Adverse effects on environment: There are problems with toxic materials leaching into the environment. For example, open-air burning and acid baths being used to recover valuable materials from electronic components release toxic materials leaching into the environment.
  • Plastic used in electronics highly Hazardous: Hazardous chemicals such as bromine, antimony and lead are applied to electronics like laptops and music systems as flame retardants. They find their way into food-contact items and other everyday products as the demand for black plastics in consumer products is met partly by sourcing from e-waste.

According to the study conducted by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum

  • WEEE: Non-profit Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum is an international association of 46 e-waste producer responsibility organizations which started the day in 2018.
  • According WEEE studies:
  • Roughly 5.3 billion mobile/smartphones will drop out of use this year.
  • The electronics would reach a height of around 50,000 km if stacked flat and on top of each other. That’s an eighth of the distance to the moon.
  • WEEE Survey:
  • The forum surveys conducted to reveal why so many households and businesses fail to bring in for repair or recycling. The results were consolidated by the United Nations’ Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Sustainable Cycles Programme.
  • Results of WEEE surveys:
  • Hoarded E-waste material is a problem: Of 8,775 European households in six countries, the average household contains 74 e-products. Of 74 average total e-products, 13 are being hoarded. This is the story almost everywhere.The top five hoarded small electronic products were (in order): small electronics and accessories (eg, headphones, remotes), small equipment, small IT equipment (eg, hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice), mobile and smartphones, small food preparation appliances .LED lamps ranked the top of the list of products most likely to be trashed.

What is the present status of E-waste in India?

  • Statistics: Approximately 8 lakh tonnes per annum of plastic waste is recycled and 1.67 lakh tonnes per annum is co-processed in Cement Kilns, said the government. There are 468 authorised dismantlers/recyclers in 22 states having a processing capacity of 13.85 lakh tonnes of e-waste in the country.
  • The e-waste management rules: The e-Waste (Management) Rules were notified in 2016 which got amended from time to time. So far, the Environment Ministry has notified 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) as e-waste
  • No recent studies on the pollution caused by e-waste: In the recent Parliament session, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey in his reply to Kerala Rajya Sabha member V Sivadasan (CPM) said no study has been carried out by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to assess the damage caused to the environment by e-waste.

Current scenario and issues in E-waste recycling

  • Crude and Scrappage: As of today, some 95% of e-waste is managed by the informal sector which operates under inferior working conditions and relies on crude techniques for dismantling and recycling.
  • Infrastructure lacunae: Another important issue is the lack of sufficient metal processing infrastructure which is why recyclers have to export materials to global smelters.
  • Price competencies: As aggregators are mostly informal, they demand up-front cash payments.
  • Bloomed informal network: The informal network is well-established and rests on social capital ties that PROs have yet to establish and are hence insulated from reaching the viable number of aggregators.
  • Policy failure: Policy changes have tried repeatedly to formalize the sector, but issues of implementation persist on the ground.

Way forward

  • Effective design: Since India is highly deficient in precious mineral resources, there is a need for a well-designed, robust and regulated e-waste recovery regime that would generate jobs and wealth.
  • Consumer responsibility: The consumers must responsibly consume the product for its useful life and then weigh between the chances of repair or disposal with utmost consciousness towards the environment.
  • Recyclable products: On the supply side, e-waste can be reduced when producers design electronic products that are safer, and more durable, repairable and recyclable.
  • Reuse: Manufacturers must reuse the recyclable materials and not mine rare elements unnecessarily to meet new production.
  • Commercial recycling: Rather than hoping that informal recyclers become formal it would be more feasible for companies and the state to design programs ensure e-waste easily makes its way to proper recyclers.

Conclusion

  • Concerted efforts are important to generate a momentum of sustained efforts towards increasing disposal through formal and scientific channels and catalyzing sustainable consumption patterns is the need of the hour.

Mains Question

Q.The size and complexity of the e-waste problem are growing at a much quicker rate than the efficacy of strategies to contain it. Discuss the impact of unscientific recycling of E-waste on Environment and human health.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Ban on Single-Use Plastics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Single use plastics

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

Since July 1, 2022, India has banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of single-use plastics (SUP) items with low utility and high littering potential.

What are single-use plastics?

  • Single-use plastics, often also referred to as disposable plastics, are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
  • These include, among other items, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.

Why are single-use plastics harmful?

  • The purpose of single-use plastics is to use them once or for a short period of time before disposing of them. Plastic waste has drastic impacts on the environment and human health.
  • There is a greater likelihood of single-use plastic products ending up in the sea than reusable ones.

SUP ban in India

  • India has taken resolute steps to mitigate pollution caused by littered single-use plastics.
  • A number of items are banned, including earbuds with plastic sticks, balloon sticks, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decorations, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws etc.
  • India has also banned plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers, etc.

What is the impact on the environment?

[A] Solid Waste generation

  • The disposal of plastics is one of the least recognized and most highly problematic areas of plastic’s ecological impact.
  • Ironically, one of plastic’s most desirable traits: its durability and resistance to decomposition, is also the source of one of its greatest liabilities when it comes to the disposal of plastics.
  • A very small amount of total plastic production (less than 10%) is effectively recycled; the remaining plastic is sent to landfills.
  • It is destined to remain entombed.

[B] Ecological Impact

(i) Groundwater and soil pollution

  • Plastic is a material made to last forever, and due to the same chemical composition, plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
  • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years.
  • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
  • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution and have now started resulting in presence of micro plastics in soil.

(ii) Water Pollution

  • The increased presence of plastic on the ocean surface has resulted in more serious problems.
  • Since most of the plastic debris that reaches the ocean remains floating for years as it does not decompose quickly, it leads to the dropping of oxygen level in the water.
  • It has severely affected the survival of marine species.
  • When oceanic creatures and even birds consume plastic inadvertently, they choke on it which causes a steady decline in their population.
  • In addition to suffocation, ingestion, and other macro-particulate causes of death in larger birds, fish, and mammals.

[C] Health Hazards

  • Burning of plastic results into formation of a class of flame retardants called as Halogens.
  • Collectively, these harmful chemicals are known to cause the following severe health problems: cancer, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects and child developmental disorders etc.

Ban elsewhere

  • India is not the first country to ban single-use plastics.
  • Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002; New Zealand banned plastic bags in July 2019.
  • China had issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with a phased implementation.
  • As of July 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.

What are the plastic waste management rules in India?

  • With effect from September 30, 2021 India has the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.
  • It prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 75 microns.
  • From December 31, 2022, plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 120 microns will be banned.
  • It means that the ban does not cover all plastic bags; however, it requires the manufacturers to produce plastic bags thicker than 75 microns which was earlier 50 microns.
  • As per the notification, the standard shall be increased to 120 microns in December this year.

What is the role of the manufacturer?

  • In addition, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022 on February 16, 2022.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
  • The guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote the development of new alternatives to plastic packaging and provide the next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses.

Various steps taken

  • The Indian government has taken steps to promote innovation and create an ecosystem for accelerated adoption and availability of alternatives across the country.
  • To ensure the effective enforcement of the ban, national and State-level control rooms will be established, as well as special enforcement teams for the purpose of checking the illegal sale and use of single-use plastics.
  • To prevent the movement of banned single-use plastic items between States and Union Territories, border checkpoints have been established.
  • In an effort to empower citizens to help curb the plastic menace, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has launched a grievance redressal application.

What are the challenges?

  • The ban will succeed only if all stakeholders participate enthusiastically and engage in effective engagement and concerted actions.
  • However, if we look back at our past, almost 25 Indian States previously banned plastic at the state level.
  • However, these bans had a very limited impact in reality because of the widespread use of these items.
  • Now the challenge is to see how the local level authorities will enforce the ban in accordance with the guidelines.
  • Banned items such as earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, etc., are non-branded items and it is difficult to find out who the manufacturer is and who is accountable.

Way forward

  • The consumer needs to be informed about the ban through advertisements, newspaper or TV commercials, or on social media.
  • In order to find sustainable alternatives, companies need to invest in research and development.
  • The solution to the plastic pollution problem is not the responsibility of the government alone, but of industries, brands, manufacturers and most importantly consumers.
  • Finding alternatives to plastic seems a little difficult, however, greener alternatives to plastic may be considered a sustainable option.
  • For example, compostable and bio-degradable plastic, etc., may be considered as an option.
  • While the total ban on the use of plastic sounds a great idea, its feasibility seems difficult at this hour, especially in the absence of workable alternatives.

 

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Construction and demolition waste

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: solid waste management

Construction and demolitionContext

  • Huge amounts of construction and demolition waste in a residential area is hazardous for human health and warrants immediate disposal.

Why in news?

  • The Twin towers in Noida, Uttar Pradesh were demolished by controlled implosion. Their being located in a residential neighbourhood of Noida makes it even more essential to introduce interventions to mitigate pollution and waste, post-demolition.

What is construction and demolition waste?

  • Construction and demolition wastes (CDW) are the status of building materials after the end life of buildings. CDW could be concrete, steel, wood products, asphalt shingles, and bricks from building.

What is waste management?

  • 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.

Construction and demolitionWhy they should be managed properly?

  • 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.

Data to remember

62 million tons of waste is generated annually in the country at present.

India manages to recover and recycle only about 1 per cent of its construction and demolition (C&D) waste, says new CSE analysis.

Construction and demolitionWhat are the impacts of construction waste on the environment and human health?

  • Air: Disassembling and shredding of construction waste generate dust or large particulates into the surroundings and affects the respiratory health of waste management workers and others.
  • Water: (Landfills are not properly designed to hold construction waste + Illegal dump sites + Improper recycling & disposal of e-waste) = compounds leach into the ground = Groundwater gets toxified due to heavy metals from demolition waste.
  • Soil: Soil is contaminated by direct contact with contaminants from construction waste or its by-products from recycling & disposal + indirectly through irrigation. Soils become toxic when substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyl’s (PCBs) are deposited in landfills. Contaminated soils have bad impacts on microbes and plants => the pollutants reach higher animals or humans through the food chain.

Construction And Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 – Salient Features

1.Duties of waste Generators

  • Construction and demolition waste must be separated by each waste generator, and it must be deposited at a collection site or given to authorised processing companies.
  • Should take care to prevent any trash or depositing that could block vehicles, the general public, or drains.
  • Before beginning building, demolition, or remodelling work, large generators (those that create more than 20 tonnes or more in a single day or 300 tonnes per project in a month) must submit a waste management plan and obtain the necessary approvals from the local authorities.
  • Large generators must have an environmental management strategy to address any environmental problems resulting from building and demolition work, storage, transportation, and waste disposal and recycling.
  • The waste from large generators must be divided into four streams, including concrete, soil, steel, wood, and plastics, as well as bricks and mortar.
  • The appropriate fees for collection, transportation, processing, and disposal must be paid by large generators according to the notices issued by the competent authorities.

2.Duties of Service providers and Contractors

  • Within six months of the rules’ notification, the service providers are required to develop a thorough waste management plan for the waste produced under their control.
  • They must also remove all construction and demolition waste independently or through a third party after consulting with the relevant local authority.

3.Duties of State Government and Local Authorities

  • Within one and a half years after the date of the final notice of these regulations, the responsible State Government department dealing with land should offer suitable locations for the establishment of the storage, processing, and recycling facilities for construction and demolition waste.
  • In order to prevent long-term disruption of the processing plant, the Town and Country Planning Department must include the location in the authorised land use plan.
  • In municipal and government contracts, materials created from building and demolition waste must be purchased and used to the tune of 10–20%.
  • The local authority must install suitable bins for garbage collection, removal at regular intervals, and transportation to suitable facilities for processing and disposal.
  • Large generators of construction and demolition waste must submit a comprehensive plan or undertaking before Local Authorities may approve the waste management plan;
  • Seek help from the relevant authorities for the safe disposal of any nuclear waste or building and demolition debris contaminated with hazardous or toxic materials from industry;
  • Local Authorities must provide the generator with the necessary incentives for salvaging, processing, and/or recycling, preferably on-site;
  • Million plus cities (based on the 2011 Indian census) must commission the processing and disposal facility within 1.5 years of the date of final announcement of these regulations.
  • Local Authorities will build a database and update it once a year.

4.Duties of Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee

  • Construction and demolition waste management operating rules must be created by the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The construction and demolition waste processing plant will receive authorization from SPCB.
  • The involved local bodies will keep an eye on how these guidelines are being applied.
  • Send an annual report to the State Government and the Central Pollution Control Board.

Construction and Demolition Waste Management – Concerns

  • In spite of the aforementioned, industry and state pollution control boards operate poorly.
  • In India, between 25 and 30 million tonnes of C&D waste are produced each year, but barely 5 percent of it gets treated.
  • It is noteworthy that dirt, sand, and gravel make up 36% of C&D waste. This waste affects soil fertility and poses a threat to public health in cities.
  • The almost total lack of recycling also violates India’s obligations to reduce carbon emissions.
  • The need to recycle C&D waste is critical.
  • This is due to the fact that widespread sand mining is already eroding river beds and ultimately aggravating flood damage.

Some positive suggestions

  • Need robust estimation and characterisation of C&D waste to design systems for material recovery: Cities need comprehensive assessment and quantification of C&D waste generation, to plan adequate infrastructure and systems for treatment and management.
  • Need of documentation: Cities must create easily accessible databases of buildings and their physical and legal attributes. Construction/demolition permits need to be inventorised with associated waste management plans attached.
  • Preparing for waste management from new generation material: Expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS), Styrofoam, plastic spacers, bituminous material and asbestos embedded within new wall assemblies are a recycling challenge. This needs special attention.
  • Infrastructure projects need to set up their own recycling facilities: DMRC has done so. Concrete can be easily recycled. Butt excavated waste is a challenge. Other infrastructure projects like highway and roadwork find recycling of bituminous material waste challenging. Globally, proactive prevention of waste is undertaken through modification of existing on site construction practices etc.
  • Responsibility of the construction Industry: The current system provides no incentive to the construction agencies for managing their own waste via waste reduction and on-site reuse and recycling. The Rules have created a push by creating a legal requirement for waste management but the financial drivers are missing. This requires fiscal strategy.

Conclusion

  • Environmental and material challenges associated with the Construction and Demolition waste problem need urgent and immediate attention nation-wide to recover material, protect environment, and for clean air.

Mains question

Q. India manages to recover and recycle only about 1 per cent of its construction and demolition waste analyse the constraints in it. Also suggest some positive measures to address this challenge.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Per- and Polyfluoro-Alkyl substances (PFAs): the Forever Chemicals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PFA, Forever Chemicals

Mains level: Residual chemicals and the pollution caused

A recent study published in Environment Science and Technology has found that rainwater from many places across the globe is contaminated with “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” (PFAs) also called “forever chemicals”.

What are PFAs?

  • PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, fire-fighting forms and many other products that resist grease, water and oil.
  • They refer to a group of over 3,000 widely used human-made chemicals linked to cancer and other health risks.
  • They have tendency to stick around in the atmosphere, rainwater and soil for long periods of time.
  • PFAs can migrate to the soil, water and air during their production and use.
  • Since most PFAs do not break down, they remain in the environment for long periods of time.
  • Some of these PFAs can build up in people and animals if they are repeatedly exposed to the chemicals.

What harm do PFAs cause?

  • A variety of health risks are attributed to PFA exposure, including decreased fertility, developmental effects in children, interference with body hormones, increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of some cancers.
  • Recent research has also revealed that long-term low-level exposure to certain PFAs can make it difficult for humans to build antibodies after being vaccinated against various diseases.

How can these chemicals be removed from rainwater?

  • There is no known method that can extract and remove PFAs from the atmosphere itself.
  • There are many effective, albeit expensive, methods to remove them from rainwater that has been collected through various rainwater harvesting methods.
  • One way to do this would be to use a filtration system with activated carbon.
  • The activated carbon will need to be removed and replaced regularly.
  • Also, the old contaminated material must be destroyed.

Remedial measures

  • A cheaper method is under trial.
  • The researchers first placed a PFA compound in a solvent called DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide).
  • They then mixed it with sodium hydroxide (lye) in water.
  • They found that when this mixture was heated up to boiling temperature, the PFA compound began to degrade.
  • However, this method doesn’t work for all PFAs and only works for certain PFA subsets.

 

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

E-waste management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EPR, PRO

Mains level: E-waste management

A proposed framework by the Centre for regulating e-waste in India has upset a key link of India’s electronic waste collection system and threatens the livelihood of thousands of people.

Menace of E-Waste in India

  • Electronic waste, or electronic goods that are past their productive life and old parts, is largely handled by India’s vast informal sector.
  • Spent goods are dismantled and viable working parts refurbished, with the rest making their way into chemical dismantling units.
  • Many of these units are run out of unregulated sweatshops that employ child labour and hazardous extraction techniques.

Remedy against this: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

  • To address all of this, the Environment Ministry brought the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
  • This introduced a system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compelling makers of electronic goods to ensure a proportion of the goods they sold every year was recycled.
  • They are expected to maintain records annually demonstrating this.
  • Most companies however did not maintain an in-house unit in charge of recycling and this gave rise to a network of government-registered companies, called Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO).

How PROs work?

  • PROs act as an intermediary between manufacturers and formal recycling
  • They are (expected to be) technologically equipped to recycle end-of-life electronic goods safely and efficiently.
  • The PROs typically bid for contracts from companies and arrange for specified quantities of goods to be recycled.
  • They provide companies certified proof of recycling that they then maintain as part of their records. Several PROs work on consumer awareness and enable a supply chain for recycled goods.

Functional PROs in India

  • As of March 2022, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has registered 74 PROs and 468 authorised dismantlers.
  • They have a collective recycling capacity of about 1.3 million tonnes.

What is the extent of E-Waste production in India?

  • The Ministry estimated 7.7 lakh tonnes of e-waste to have been generated in 2018-19.
  • Around one million tonnes in 2019-20 of which only a fifth (about 22% in both years) has been confirmed to be “dismantled and recycled”.

What is the controversy now?

  • This May, the Ministry issued a draft notification that does away with the PROs and dismantlers and vests all responsibility of recycling with authorised recyclers.
  • Only a handful of authorised recyclers exist in India.
  • Recyclers will source a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate electronic certificates.
  • Companies can buy these certificates equivalent to their annual committed target and thus do not have to be involved with engaging the PROs and dismantlers.
  • Dismantling a fledgling system was detrimental to the future of e-waste management in India.

What is the rationale behind?

  • The Centre has not explained its rationale for dismantling the existing system in its draft notification.
  • However, a final policy is yet to emerge.
  • The new rules would track the material that went in for recycling with the output claimed by a recycler when they claimed GST (Goods and Services Tax) input credit.

Also read this comprehensive article:

[Yojana Archive] E-waste Management

 

Try this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

Post your answers here.
10
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

IIT-Bombay to help treat Mumbai’s Sewage with new tech

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: N-Treat technology

Mains level: Best practices to treat wastewater

To prevent sludge and sewage from stormwater drains from flowing into the sea, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has planned in-situ treatment of sewage from the drains with the help of N-Treat Technology developed by IIT-B.

What is N-Treat technology?

  • N-Treat is a seven-stage process for waste treatment that uses screens, gates, silt traps, curtains of coconut fibres for filtration, and disinfection using sodium hypochlorite.
  • According to the detailed project report for N-Treat, it is a natural and environment-friendly way of sewage treatment.
  • It’s setup takes place within the nullahs channels that is through the in-situ or on-site method of treatment, and does not require additional space.

What does the process involve?

(1) Screening

  • The first stage involves screening to prevent the entry of floating objects such as plastic cups, paper dishes, polythene bags, sanitary napkins, or wood.
  • IIT-B has proposed to install three coarse screens, the first with 60 mm spacing for removal of large floating matter, the second with 40 mm spacing, and the third with 20 mm spacing.

(2) Slit trap

  • The second stage has proposed construction of a silt trap, which creates an inclination and ‘parking spot’ on the bed of the nullah for sedimentation.

(3) Bio zones

  • The next three stages are installation of ‘bio zones’ in the form of coconut fibre curtains that will act as filters and promote growth of biofilm to help in decomposition of organic matter.
  • A floating wetland with aquatic vegetation planted on floating mats has been proposed.

(4) Florafts

  • Aside from a floating bed on the surface, IIT-B has proposed suspending floating rafts vertically, called florafts.
  • Their hanging roots would provide a large surface area for passive filtration as well as development of microbial consortium.
  • In the floating wetlands, plants acquire nutrition directly from the water column for their growth and development, thus reducing the organic as well as inorganic pollutants.
  • The final stage for sewage treatment will include disinfection using sodium hypochlorite, to kill the bacteria in the water.

How will it be used by BMC?

  • A senior civic official said: “BMC approached IIT-B to submit a Detailed Project Report for the project.
  • The N-Treat method suggested to the civic body is cost-effective, as it does not require manual pumping, and saves electricity, and does not require extensive manpower for maintenance.”
  • The floating matter will be removed daily, silt deposits from the silt traps will be removed once in four months, and plants will be trimmed as required.
  • The floating matter collected every day will be disposed of at the nearest municipal waste collection point daily.

 

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Enforcing the Single-Use Plastic Ban

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Single use plastics

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

A ban on the use of single-use plastics that was notified by the Union Environment Ministry on August 2021 came into effect on July 1 this year.

What is the news?

  • The national and State-level control rooms would be set up to check illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of banned single use plastic items.
  • The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, will also prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags.
  • This is for plastics having thickness less than 120 microns with effect from December 31, 2022.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

  • The Centre defines it as an object made of plastic that is intended to be used “only once” before being disposed off or recycled.
  • Single-use plastic items such as these had “low utility and high littering potential,” it noted.

What is now included in SUPs?

  • For the purposes of the ban, there is a list of 21 items that come under the definition of single-use plastic including ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, thermocol for decoration etc.
  • It also includes plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers.
  • These objects were listed by the Environment Ministry in August when it notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

How will the ban be implemented?

  • So far 32 States/UTs have reportedly constituted a dedicated Task Force to eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
  • Of these 14 states/UTs and 12 Central Ministries, as of March, had developed action plans describing how they would be enforcing this.
  • A few States, for example Maharashtra, already have legislation banning the manufacture and storage of such plastic.
  • But implementing it wasn’t always successful as there was regular supply from States where such bans were not in force.
  • An all-India ban, it’s hoped, would make enforcement more effective.

Penal provisions

  • According to the Environment Protection (EP) Act, violating the ban could invite “punitive action”.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of single-use plastic goods were directed to have zero inventory by June 30.
  • The EP Act says that violating the ban could invite a five-year imprisonment and a fine of upto ₹1 lakh, or both.
  • If the violations are repeated, it could mean additional fines up to ₹5000 for each day.
  • There are different penalties for companies, organisations, and government departments under the EP Act.

What is the history of the single use plastic ban in India?

  • The Environment Ministry told the Rajya Sabha last July of its plan to phase out some categories of single use plastic by 2022.
  • A draft outlining the manner in which the ban was to be implemented was issued in March and involved amending the PWM Rules, 2016.
  • Before the amendments came into force, the Rules only prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
  • There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.
  • Since October 2021, there is a ban on carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns as opposed to 50 microns under the earlier version of the rules.

Is there popular support for the ban?

  • The All India Plastic Manufacturers Association has said that the ban would shutter 88,000 units in the plastic manufacturing business.
  • These employ close to a million people and contribute to exports worth ₹25,000 crore.
  • Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies (FMCG) would be severely affected by the the ban due to their dependence on plastic straws, plates.
  • Their replacements, industry representatives say, are available but cost much more than their plastic alternatives.
  • There is also limited capacity in India to provide biodegradable replacements.

What is the environmental damage from SUPs?

  • Unlike thicker and denser plastic material, single-use plastic objects being light and flexible are less amenable to being recycled.
  • While 99% of plastic is recycled, they constitute heavier plastics that are likely to be collected by ragpickers and plastic waste recyclers.
  • Single use plastics do not provide an incentive enough for the effort needed to collect them and hence they lie around, leach their toxins into the soil and cause environmental damage in both land and sea.

 

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single-use plastic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Single use plastics

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

The Centre has banned the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from July 1.

What is the news?

  • The Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change had issued a gazette notification last year announcing the ban, and has now defined a list of items that will be banned from next month.
  • The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of suc plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

  • As the name suggests, it refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded.
  • Single-use plastic (SUP) has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles (shampoo, detergents, cosmetics), polythene bags, face masks, coffee cups, cling film, trash bags, food packaging etc.
  • It accounts for a third of all plastic produced globally, with 98% manufactured from fossil fuels.
  • SUP also accounts for the majority of plastic discarded – 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019 all of which is burned, buried in landfills or discarded directly into the environment.
  • On the current trajectory of production, it has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

SUPs in India

  • India features in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation – at rank 94 (the top three being Singapore, Australia and Oman).
  • With domestic production of 11.8 million metric tonnes annually, and import of 2.9 MMT, India’s net generation of single-use plastic waste is 5.6 MMT, and per capita generation is 4 kg.

What are the items being banned?

  • According to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, there is also a complete ban on sachets using plastic material for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.
  • The items on which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have announced a ban are earbuds; balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, PVC banners measuring under 100 microns among others.
  • The Ministry had already banned polythene bags under 75 microns in September 2021, expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns.
  • From December, the ban will be extended to polythene bags under 120 microns.
  • The ban is being introduced in phases to give manufacturers time to shift to thicker polythene bags that are easier to recycle.
  • While manufacturers can use the same machine for 50- and 75-micron bags, the machinery will need to be upgraded for 120 microns.

Why these items?

  • The choice for the first set of SUPs items for the ban was based on difficulty of collection, and therefore recycling.
  • The enemy is not that plastic exists per se, but that plastic exists forever in the environment.
  • When plastic remains in the environment for long periods of time and does not decay, it turns into microplastics – first entering our food sources and then the human body, and this is extremely harmful.
  • These items are difficult to collect, especially since most are either small, or discarded directly into the environment – like ice-cream sticks.
  • It then becomes difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items.
  • The largest share of SUP is that of packaging – with as much as 95% of single use belong to this category – from toothpaste to shaving cream to frozen foods.
  • The items chosen are of low value and of low turnover and are unlikely to have a big economic impact, which could be a contributing reason.

How will the ban be enforced?

  • The ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre, and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
  • Directions have been issued at national, state and local levels — for example, to all petrochemical industries — to not supply raw materials to industries engaged in the banned items.
  • Directions have also been issued to SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees to modify or revoke consent to operate issued under the Air/Water Act to industries engaged in SUP items.
  • Last week, the CPCB issued one-time certificates to 200 manufacturers of compostable plastic and the BIS passed standards for biodegradable plastic.

What if violation occurs?

  • Those found violating the ban can be penalised under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
  • Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensation by the SPCB.
  • In addition, there are municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.

How are other countries dealing with single-use plastic?

  • Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002.
  • New Zealand became the latest country to ban plastic bags in July 2019.
  • China issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with phased implementation.
  • As of July 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.
  • Vanuatu and Seychelles have banned plastic straws outright.

 

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Microplastics found in Antarctica

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Microplastics pollution

Mains level: Not Much

Scientists have found microplastics — plastic pieces much smaller than a grain of rice — in freshly fallen Antarctic snow for the first time.

What are Microplastics?

  • Microplastics are tiny bits of various types of plastic found in the environment.
  • The name is used to differentiate them from “macroplastics” such as bottles and bags made of plastic.
  • There is no universal agreement on the size of microplastics. It defines microplastic as less than 5mm in length.
  • However, for the purposes of this study, since the authors were interested in measuring the quantities of plastic that can cross the membranes and diffuse into the body via the bloodstream.
  • Hence they agreed on an upper limit on the size of the particles as 0.0007 millimetre.

Why in news?

  • Researchers have found microplastics in the snow samples from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Threats posed by Microplastics

  • Microplastics has the potential to influence the climate by accelerating melting of ice.
  • They limit growth, reproduction, and general biological functions in organisms, as well as humans.

 

Try this PYQ:

  1. Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment?

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

Post your answers here.

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Back2Basics: Ross Ice Shelf

  • Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica roughly the size of France.
  • It is several hundred metres thick.
  • The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 kilometres long, and between 15 and 50 metres (50 and 160 ft) high above the water surface.
  • Ninety percent of the floating ice, however, is below the water surface.
  • Most of Ross Ice Shelf is in the Ross Dependency claimed by New Zealand.
  • It floats in, and covers, a large southern portion of the Ross Sea and the entire Roosevelt Island located in the east of the Ross Sea.

 

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E-Waste Recycling in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Mains level: E-waste management

Attero Recycling, one of India’s largest electronic waste management companies, is set to invest close to $1 billion in expanding their electronic waste recycling facilities in India.

E-waste Management: A tricky task

  • E-waste management is a complicated process given the multitude of actors that are involved in the process.
  • The major stakeholders in the value chain include importers, producers/manufacturers, retailers (businesses/government/others), consumers (individual households, businesses, government and others), traders, scrap dealers, dissemblers/dismantlers and recyclers.
  • To critically assess each in the different stages of processing, it is important to understand the e-waste value chain.
  • The process involves four stages: generation, collection, segregation and treatment/disposal.

India’s regulatory ecosystem

  • Indian electronics sector boomed in the last decade.
  • Increased production and penetration of imported electronics items led to an accelerated e-waste generation that necessitated regulatory control over the sector.
  • India has Electronic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 in place since . Its scope was expanded in 2016 and 2018 through amendments.

Provisions of the 2011 Rules

  • To streamline e-waste management, the Government introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) whereby producers were required to collect and recycle electronic items.
  • Since manufacturers were incurring the disposal cost, their designs would incorporate less toxic and easily recyclable materials, thereby reducing input material requirements.

Inherent flaws in Implementation

  • Recycling: Less than five percent of the waste is treated through formal recycling facilities.
  • Informal sector: The rest is handled by the informal sector with very little enforcement of environmental and occupational safety norms.
  • Weak Regulations: A deeper analysis revealed that the EPR regulations in India were not quantified through collection or recycling targets as in other countries with better implementation framework and mechanisms.
  • Lack of incentivization: In the absence of targets, producers had little incentive to ensure the collection of their used products.

Current scenario and issues in e-waste recycling

  • Crude and Scrappage: As of today, some 95% of e-waste is managed by the informal sector which operates under inferior working conditions and relies on crude techniques for dismantling and recycling.
  • Infrastructure lacunae: Another important issue is the lack of sufficient metal processing infrastructure which is why recyclers have to export materials to global smelters.
  • Price competencies: As aggregators are mostly informal, they demand up-front cash payments.
  • Bloomed informal network: The informal network is well-established and rests on social capital ties that PROs have yet to establish and are hence insulated from reaching the viable number of aggregators.
  • Policy failure: Policy changes have tried repeatedly to formalize the sector, but issues of implementation persist on the ground.

Way forward

  • Effective design: Since India is highly deficient in precious mineral resources, there is a need for a well-designed, robust and regulated e-waste recovery regime that would generate jobs and wealth.
  • Consumer responsibility: The consumers must responsibly consume the product for its useful life and then weigh between the chances of repair or disposal with utmost consciousness towards the environment.
  • Recyclable products: On the supply side, e-waste can be reduced when producers design electronic products that are safer, and more durable, repairable and recyclable.
  • Reuse: Manufacturers must reuse the recyclable materials and not mine rare elements unnecessarily to meet new production.
  • Commercial recycling: Rather than hoping that informal recyclers become formal it would be more feasible for companies and the state to design programs ensure e-waste easily makes its way to proper recyclers.

 

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Plastic waste Management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Types of plastic waste

Mains level: Paper 3- Plastic problem

Context

The UN Environment Assembly meeting in February-March 2022 may finalise a way forward for global cooperation on the emissions of plastic waste into the aquatic ecosystems.

Plastic as a consumption externality

  • Plastics represent an example of a consumption externality, which involves many people, rather than a production externality, which involves one or multiple firms.
  • Why is it challenging to address? Consumption externality is more challenging to address, as it is difficult to differentiate the behaviour of consumers.

2 Approaches and issues with them

  • Imposing the cost of the harm on all consumers may not yield efficient solutions.
  • As the number of consumers is high, the cost of controlling them is also high.
  • 1] Banning plastic: This approach promotes a sustainable environment, intergenerational equity, saves marine and wildlife ecosystems, and restores soil quality.
  • But it also causes inconvenience for consumers, increases substitution cost, and creates unemployment shocks as it affects the production of plastics, leading to less economic activity, less income generation and finally less employment.
  • 2] Tax on plastic: Other key aspects that may be considered for global cooperation are the options if plastics are banned, the effectiveness of imposing tax and the potential problems with both these approaches.
  • It is difficult to identify the exact tax to be imposed, which may depend on country-specific circumstances.

Way forward

1] Command and control approach

  • The environment regulation for plastics may include a ‘command and control’ approach, and fiscal reforms like eco-taxes or subsidies.
  • The efficiency of such a regulation depends on its architecture — how well it is planned, designed and executed. It should be credible, transparent and predictable.

2] Fiscal reforms like eco-taxes or subsidies

  • Eco-taxes may be imposed in the various stages of production, consumption or disposal of plastics.
  • Pollution due to plastics may happen during the production stage.
  • That is the logic for imposing tax on polluting inputs, as it forces the producer to look for cleaner substitutes.
  • Pollution also occurs during the consumption stage, and thus an eco-tax is recommended to discourage consumption.

3] Estimating the social cost at the local and global level

  • Social cost should be evaluated differently in the local/regional and global contexts.
  • While health and hygiene are predominant considerations in the former case, climate change is the predominant consideration in the latter.
  • Ideally, eco-tax rates on plastics ought to be equal to the marginal social cost arising from the negative externality associated with production, consumption or disposal of goods and services.

Comprehensive policy measures

  • Comprehensive policy measures against plastics may generally involve three complementary activities:
  • 1] The removal of existing taxes and subsidies that have a negative environmental impact.
  • 2] Taking into account the different types or grades of plastics.
  • 3] Restructuring existing taxes in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • Other suggestions include: Promoting multiple use of plastics through better waste management,
  • Educating the public on the harmful use of plastics,
  • Providing subsidy for research and development activity for substitute development.
  • Appropriate disposal mechanisms and waste management and use of waste for constructive usage like roads.

Conclusion

The key aspects that may be considered for global cooperation are the options if plastics are banned, the effectiveness of imposing tax and the potential problems with both these approaches.

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[pib] Extended Producers Responsibility on Plastic Packaging

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Extended Producers Responsibility

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change has notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life.
  • India had first introduced EPR in 2011 under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, and E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011.

What are the new EPR rules for Plastic Waste?

(A) Plastic packaging

  • The new EPR guidelines cover three categories of plastic packaging including:
  1. Rigid plastic
  2. Flexible plastic packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carrying bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches
  3. Multi-layered plastic packaging has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
  • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.

(B) Ineligible plastics for EPR

  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposals such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil, and cement kilns.
  • Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be permitted for their disposal.

Targets for recycling

  • In 2024, a minimum of 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
  • Every year will see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.
  • If entities cannot fulfill their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall.

Effects on non-compliance

  • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine.
  • Instead, an “environmental compensation” will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.

Challenges in mandatory EPR

There are several challenges faced by both producers and bulk consumers that hinder proactive participation.

  • Consumer awareness: Waste segregation has been the greatest challenge in India owing to the lack of consumer awareness.
  • Lack of compliance: The plastic producers do not wish to engage in the process holistically and take the effort to build awareness.
  • Large-scale involvement: The EPR doesn’t take into account the formalization of informal waste pickers, aggregators, and dismantlers.
  • Lack of recycling infrastructure: These challenges range from lack of handling capacity to illegitimate facilities in the forms of multiple accounting of waste, selling to aggregators, and leakages.

Way forward

  • Tracking mechanism: Develop tracking mechanisms and provide oversight of waste compliance, in order to ensure that the mechanism of waste disposal is streamlined.
  • Strict enforcement: While enforcement strictness is of paramount importance, it is also vital to build an incentive structure around this to ensure better complicity by the producers.
  • Innovation: The time is ripe for innovators to come up with an alternative for plastics and the strong will of the Government to rid the toxic waste in a sustainable and safe manner.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

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Gaps in draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EPR

Mains level: Paper 3- Regulations on EPR and issues with them

Context

In October, the Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), set to come into effect by the end of this year. These regulations denote a backslide, particularly with respect to integration of the informal sector.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requires the manufacturer of a product, or the party that introduces the product into the community, to take responsibility for its life cycle.
  • An FMCG company should not only account for the costs of making, packing and distributing a packet of chips, but also for the collection and recycling/reuse of the packet.

Shortcomings in the guidelines

The guidelines fall short in three areas: people, plastics and processing.

[1] Integration of informal sector is lacking

  • By failing to mention waste pickers or outlining mechanisms for their incorporation under EPR, the guidelines are retrogressive.
  • For decades, waste pickers, working in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, have picked up what we throw away.
  • Besides, by diverting waste towards recycling and reuse, waste pickers also subsidise local governments responsible for solid waste management.
  • Further, they reduce the amount of waste accumulating in cities, water bodies and dumpsites and increase recycling and reuse, creating environmental and public health benefits.
  • Between 1.5 and 4 million waste pickers in India work without social security, health insurance, minimum wages or basic protective gear.
  • Suggestions:  An effective EPR framework should address the issue of plastics and plastic waste management in tandem with the existing machinery, minimise duplication and lead to a positive environmental impact, with monitoring mechanisms including penalties for non-compliance.
  • EPR funds could be deployed for mapping and registration of the informal sector actors, building their capacity, upgrading infrastructure, promoting technology transfer, and creating closed loop feedback and monitoring mechanisms.

[2] The scope of plastic covered need to be altered

  • The EPR guidelines are limited to plastic packaging.
  • There are other multi-material plastic items like sanitary pads, chappals, and polyester that pose a huge waste management challenge today, but have been left out of the scope of EPR.
  • Three categories of plastic packaging: Plastic packaging can be roughly grouped into three categories: recyclable and effectively handled by the informal sector, technologically recyclable but not economically viable to recycle, technologically challenging to recycle (or non-recyclable).
  • [1] Rigid plastics like PET and HDPE are effectively recycled.
  • Suggestion: The government could support and strengthen the informal recycling chain by bridging gaps in adequate physical spaces, infrastructure, etc.
  • [2] Typically flexible plastics like LDPE and PP bags are recyclable, but due to their contamination with organic waste, lightweight, and high volume, the costs of recycling are prohibitively expensive relative to the market value of the output.
  • Suggestion: Market value for these plastics can be increased by increasing the demand for and use of recycled plastics in packaging, thus creating the value to accommodate the current costs of recycling.
  • [3] Multi-layered and multi-material plastics are low weight and voluminous, making them expensive to handle and transport.
  • Since they are primarily used in food packaging, they often attract rodents, making storage problematic.
  • Even if this plastic is picked, recycling is technologically challenging as it is heterogeneous material.
  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules mandated the phase-out of these plastics.
  • However, in 2018, this mandate was reversed.

[3] Processing technologies need to be closely evaluated

  • Not all processing is recycling.
  • Processes like waste-to-energy, co-processing and incineration have been proven to release carbon dioxide, particulate matter, harmful dioxins and furans which have negative climate and health impacts.
  • While the environmental impact and desirability of these processes continues to be debated, the draft regulations legitimise them to justify the continued production of multi-layered plastics.
  • Technologies like chemical recycling and pyrolysis are capital-intensive, yielding low returns and running into frequent breakdowns and technological problems.
  • They also release carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
  • These end-of-life processes are economically, environmentally and operationally unsustainable.
  • A number of gasification, pyrolysis and other chemical recycling projects have figured in accidents such as fires, explosions and financial losses.

Way forward

  • Address issues of the informal sector: The consultation process should involve informal workers.
  • Alter the scope of plastics covered: The scope of plastics covered by the guidelines could be altered to exclude those plastics which are already efficiently recycled and to include other plastic and multi-material items.
  • Processing technologies should be closely evaluated: And end-of-life processing technologies should be closely evaluated, based not only on their health and environmental impacts, but also on the implications for continued production of low-quality and multi-layered plastics.

Consider the question ” The Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Examine the issues with the regulations and suggest the way forward” 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the government should redo the consultation process for the draft guidelines.

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Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Plastic Waste Collection

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

The Environment Ministry has issued draft rules that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.

What is EPR?

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product (plastic packaging) until the end of its life.
  • India had first introduced EPR in 2011 under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 and E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011.

What are the new EPR rules for Plastic Waste?

(A) Plastic packaging

  • The new EPR guidelines covers three categories of plastic packaging including:
  1. Rigid plastic
  2. Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches
  3. Multi-layered plastic packaging which has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
  • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.

(B) Ineligible plastics for EPR

  • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns.
  • Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be permitted for their disposal.

Targets for recycling

  • In 2024, a minimum 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
  • Every year will see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories will need to be recycled.
  • If entities cannot fulfil their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall.

Effects on non-compliance

  • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine.
  • Instead, an “environmental compensation” will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.

Challenges in mandatory EPR

There are several challenges faced by both producers and bulk consumers that hinder proactive participation.

  • Consumer awareness: Waste segregation has been the greatest challenge in India owing to lack of consumer awareness.
  • Lack of compliance: The plastic producers do not wish to engage in the process holistically and take the effort to build awareness.
  • Large scale involvement: The EPR doesn’t take into account the formalization of informal waste pickers, aggregators and dismantlers.
  • Lack of recycle infrastructure: These challenges range from lack of handling capacity to illegitimate facilities in the forms of multiple accounting of waste, selling to aggregators and leakages.

Way forward

  • Tracking mechanism: What India needs is to develop tracking mechanisms and provide oversight of waste compliance, in order to ensure that the mechanism of waste disposal is streamlined.
  • Strict enforcement: While enforcement strictness is of paramount importance, it is also vital to build an incentive structure around this to ensure better complicity by the producers.
  • Innovation: The time is ripe for innovators to come up with an alternative for plastics and the strong will of the Government to rid the toxic waste in a sustainable and safe manner.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

Post your answers here.
7
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

Also read:

[Burning Issue] Ban on Single Use Plastics

 

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IISc finds alternative for single-use plastics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Allternative fibres to plastic

Mains level: Phasing out single use plastics

Researchers from the Department of Material Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) have found a way to make a substitute for single-use plastic that can, in principle help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

What is the new material?

  • IISc has developed polymers using non-edible oil and cellulose extracted from agricultural stubble.
  • These polymers can be moulded into sheets having properties suitable for making bags, cutlery or containers.
  • The material so made is bio-degradable, leak-proof and non-toxic.

Key features

  • In order to obtain sheets with properties like flexibility suitable for making different articles, the researchers played with the proportions of cellulose to non-edible oil.
  • The more cellulose they added, and less non-edible oil, the stiffer was the material, so that it was more suitable to making tumblers and cutlery.
  • The greater the proportion of oil, the more flexible was the material and it could be moulded into sheets for making bags.

Why needed?

Ans. Plastic waste menace in India

  • According to a report by Central Pollution Control Board of India, for the year 2018-2019, 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated by Indians.
  • The bad news is that this may well be an under-estimation of the problem.
  • Another alarming statistic is that of all the plastic waste produced in the world, 79% enters the environment.
  • Only 9% of all plastic waste is recycled.
  • Accumulation of plastic waste is detrimental to the environment and when this waste finds its way into the sea, there can be major harm to aquatic ecosystems, too.

Agricultural stubble

  • While plastic waste causes one type of pollution, agricultural stubble burning is responsible for air pollution in several States.
  • In Delhi, for example, the air quality index dips to indicate “severe” or “hazardous” level of pollution every winter, and this is due in part to the burning of agricultural stubble in the surrounding regions.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2020:

Which of the following statements are correct regarding the general difference between plant and animal cells?

  1. Plant cells have cellulose cell walls whilst animal cells do not.
  2. Plant cells do not have plasma membranes unlike animal cells which do.
  3. Mature plant cell has one large vacuole whilst animal cell has many small vacuoles.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
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Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

The Environment Ministry has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, which prohibits identified single-use plastic items which have low utility and high littering potential by 2022.

What is the new Amendment?

  • Pollution due to single use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries.
  • The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022:
  1. ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [thermocol] for decoration
  2. plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers
  • The thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy-five microns and to one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.

Extended Producer Responsibility

  • The plastic packaging waste shall be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility of the Producer, importer and Brand owner (PIBO), as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • For effective implementation the Guidelines for EPR being brought out have been given legal force through Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021.

Plastic waste in India

  • As much as 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19.
  • This roughly translated to 9,200 tonnes a day (TPD).
  • The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
  • Goa has the highest per capita plastic waste generation at 60 grams per capita per day, which is nearly double of what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day).

The problem

  • Only nine percent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015 was recycled globally, according to a study by researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and others.
  • Out of the nine per cent, only 10 per cent was recycled more than once; 12 per cent was incinerated, and 79 per cent ended up in landfills or oceans and other water bodies.
  • There are reports suggesting a huge gap between the demand and supply of plastics; we are being sold plastics at a much higher rate than we need.
  • Recycling is a rather benign word used by plastic manufacturers.
  • Most plastics that we claim can be recycled in India are rather down-cycled to some other material.
  • A classic example is that of PET bottles being recycled to t-shirts.

Way forward

  • Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic but also among those who handle it.
  • Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first invent the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculations.
  • The second step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimized.
  • Third, the brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.
  • Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.

 

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What is India Plastics Pact?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Plastics Pact

Mains level: Elimination of single use plastics

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has long been at the forefront of having an India Plastic Pact.

What are Plastics Pacts?

  • The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
  • All Pacts unite behind four targets:
  1. to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation;
  2. to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable;
  3. to increase the reuse, collection, and
  4. recycling of plastic packaging; and to increase recycled content in plastic packaging

India Plastics Pact

  • The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.
  • It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
  • The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018.
  • The India Plastics Pact is supported by WRAP (UK based NGO), which supports many Pacts globally.
  • This association will ensure access to expertise and knowledge from different Pacts worldwide.

Key provisions of the pact

  • Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste.
  • While the India Plastics Pact will be active in India, it will link globally with other Plastics Pacts.

How would this work?

  • The Plastics Pact is a network of initiatives that bring together all key stakeholders at the national or regional level to implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastics.
  • Each initiative is led by a local organization and unites governments, businesses, and citizens behind the common vision with a concrete set of ambitious local targets, for example in the following areas:
  1. Eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation
  2. Move from single-use to reuse where relevant
  3. Ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  4. Increase the reuse, collection, and recycling or composting of plastic packaging
  5. Increase recycled content in plastic packaging

Benefits offered

  • Many Indian businesses and organizations have expressed an interest in signing up to the Pact.
  • Deeper and long-lasting benefits will be felt across the supply chains of these businesses, most of which comprise MSMEs.
  • The Pact will encourage the development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
  • Apart from benefits to society and the economy, delivering the targets will drive the circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution. They will lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Why need such pact?

  • Of the many sustainability challenges that impact societies, climate change and plastic waste have a special significance.
  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • However, viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.

Way forward

  • For India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact.
  • The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation.
  • Members’ accountability is ensured through ambitious targets and annual data reporting.
  • The Pact will develop a road map for guidance, form action groups composed of members, and initiate innovation projects.

Try answering this PYQ:

Q. In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following? (CSP 2019)

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

Post your answers here:

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A circular economy for plastic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Plastics Pact

Mains level: Paper 3- Plastic waste challenge

Context

The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.

Issue of plastic waste

  • A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
  • Connection with livelihood: Viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.
  • For India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact. The Plastics Pacts model offers such a solution.

About Plastics Pacts model

  • Business-led initiative: The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste. 
  • All Pacts unite behind four targets:
  • 1) To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation.
  • 2) To ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable.
  • 3) To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging.
  • 4) To increase recycled content in plastic packaging.
  • It is active in a number of countries including the U.K., South Africa, and Australia.
  • The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018, by WRAP, a global NGO based in the U.K.
  • It is now being brought to India by CII and WWF India.

Advantages

  • Economic advantage: It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
  • Support EPR framework: The Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation.
  • Plastic production and management development: The Pact will encourage the development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
  • Drive circulatory of plastic: Apart from benefits to society and economy, delivering the targets will drive the circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution.

Conclusion

The India Plastics Pact will benefit society, the economy and the environment.

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How India can face the tidal wave of marine plastic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Plastic waste

Mains level: Need for plastic waste management

The problem of marine plastic pollution has reached a new peak. Hence it must be tackled from various perspectives. This article discusses some of them.

Plastic use in India

  • The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Annual Report on Implementing the Plastic Garbage Rules, 2016, is the only regular estimate of the quantum of plastic waste generated in India.
  • According to it, the waste generated in 2018-19 was 3,360,043 tonnes per year (roughly 9,200 tonnes per day).
  • Given that total municipal solid waste generation is between 55 and 65 million tonnes per day, plastic waste contributes about 5-6 per cent of total solid waste generated in India.

What happens to Plastic Waste?

  • Only nine per cent of all plastic waste has ever been recycled.
  • Approximately 12 per cent has been burnt, while the remaining 79 per cent has accumulated in landfills.
  • Plastic waste is blocking our sewers, threatening marine life and generating health risks for residents in landfills or the natural environment.

Marine plastic pollution

  • Incredibly vast and deep, the ocean acts as a huge sink for global pollution. Some of the plastic in the ocean originates from ships that lose cargo at sea.
  • Abandoned plastic fishing nets and longlines – known as ghost gear – is also a large source, making up about 10% of plastic waste at sea.
  • Marine aquaculture contributes to the problem, too, mainly when the polystyrene foam that’s used to make the floating frames of fish cages makes its way into the sea.
  • The financial costs of marine plastic pollution are significant as well.
  • According to conservative forecasts made in March 2020, the direct harm to the blue economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be $2.1 billion per year.

Threats posed to coastal areas

  • Enormous social costs accompany these economic costs.
  • Residents of coastal regions suffer from the harmful health impacts of plastic pollution and waste brought in by the tides and are inextricably linked to the fishing and tourism industry for their livelihoods.
  • Therefore, we must begin finding solutions to prevent plastics and other waste from polluting our oceans and clean them up.

Tackling the issue

The problem of marine plastic pollution can — and must — be tackled from a range of perspectives. Some of the solutions are as follows:

1.Designing a product: Identifying plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials is the first step. Find alternatives to single-use plastics and reusable design goods by working with product designers.

2.Pricing: Plastics are inexpensive because they are made with substantially subsidized oil and may be produced at a lower cost, with fewer economic incentives to employ recycled plastics.

3.Technologies and Innovation: Developing tools and technology to assist governments and organizations in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities. ‘Closing the loop’ project of the UN assists cities in developing more inventive policy solutions to tackle the problem. A similar approach can be adopted in India. 

4.Promoting a plastic-free workplace: All catering operations should be prohibited from using single-use plastics. To encourage workers and clients to improve their habits, all single-use goods can be replaced with reusable items or more sustainable alternatives.

5.Producer responsibility: Extended responsibility can be applied in the retail (packaging) sector, where producers are responsible for collecting and recycling products that they launch into the market.

6.Municipal and community actions: Beach and river clean-ups, public awareness campaigns explaining how people’s actions contribute to marine plastic pollution (or how they may solve it) and disposable plastic bag bans and levies.

7.Multi-stakeholder collaboration: Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation and oversight of policies, which includes participation from industrial firms, non-governmental organisations and volunteer organisations. Instead of acting in silos, all these stakeholders must collaborate and synchronise with one another.

Way forward

  • Solving the problem of marine plastic involves a change in production and consumption habits, which would help meet the SDGs.
  • Apart from the solutions mentioned above, the government can take several steps to combat plastic pollution.
  • Identifying hotspots for plastic leakage can assist governments in developing effective policies that address the plastic problem directly.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment? (CSP 2019)

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fi elds.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

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Draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Single use plastics

Mains level: Phasing out single use plastics

The draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021, issued by the MoEFCC has necessitated a few changes in the country’s handling of its plastic waste.

Background

  • The Environment Ministry had first notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules in March 2016.
  • It had provisions for effective and improved collection, segregation, processing, treatment and disposal of plastic waste.

What are the 2021 rules?

Phasing out Single-use Plastics

Single-use plastics have been defined under the rules as “a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled”.

  • The rules have proposed to ban the manufacture, use, sale, import and handling of some single-use plastic items on a ‘pan India basis.
  • The provisions will also apply to ‘multi-layered packaging’ – involved extensively in e-commerce and deliver services- but will exempt packaging used for imported goods.
  • They shall apply to every waste generator, local body, Gram Panchayat, manufacturer, Importers and producer as well as ‘brand-owner and “plastic waste processor (recycler, co-processor, etc.)
  • Thermoset plastic and Thermoplastic will also fall within the ambit of these rules.
  • These provisions will, however, not apply to commodities (including carrying bags) made of compostable plastic material, according to the rules.

The draft is proposed to be implemented in three stages starting this year and culminating in mid-2022.

Stage I

  • The first set of rules propose that each sheet of non-woven plastic carry bag shall not be less than 60 (GSM per square metre) or 240 microns in thickness. A carry bag made of virgin or recycled plastic shall not be less than 120 microns, with effect from the same date.

Stage II

  • The second stage will come into effect when six categories of single-use plastic — earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration — will be banned for sale, use, manufacture, stocking, import and distribution.

Stage III

  • In the third stage, the list of banned items will grow to include single-use plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping/packing films around sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets, plastic/PVC banners less than 100 micron and stirrers.

Local bodies and state pollution control boards will ensure the implementation and enforcement of these rules.

What else is covered?

One, the amendment has extended the applicability of the rules to brand-owner, plastic waste processor, including the recycler, co-processor, etc.  It will also include new definitions of:

  • Non-woven plastic bag
  • Plastic waste processing
  • Single-use plastic (SUP) item
  • Thermoset plastic
  • Thermoplastic

Try this PYQ:

Q.In India, ‘extended producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following?

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

Why such a move?

  • As much as 3.3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19.
  • The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
  • Goa has the highest per capita plastic waste generation at 60 grams per capita per day, which is nearly double what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day).
  • Clearly, we do not know the amount of plastic we generate as a country, as the increase in wealth and affluence contributes to a higher generation of plastic waste.
  • Despite the Plastic Waste Management legislation of 2011, followed by numerous changes in the recent past, most parts of the country lack systematic efforts required to mitigate the risks associated with plastic waste.

Way ahead

Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce plastic but also among those who handle it.

  • Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first inventorize the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculations.
  • The second step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimised.
  • Third, the brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.
  • Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.

Conclusion

  • Plastic, without a doubt, is a miracle commodity that has uses ranging from increasing shelf lives of eatables to medical equipment and automotive.
  • Their waste management needs due attention. And the draft policies is a significant step in this direction.

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Converting waste to energy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)

Mains level: MSW management

The new plant at Bidadi has several advantages but also some operational challenges.

Practice Question: Discuss the various benefits of waste to energy plants and challenges in running them successfully.

The prospectus of new plant

  • The new 5 MW waste-to-energy plant is going to set up near Bidadi, Karnataka.
  • This plant is expected to process 600 tonnes per day of inorganic waste.
  • The inorganic waste, which consists of bad quality plastics and used cloth pieces, can be processed as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). This material has a calorific value of more than 2,500 kJ/kg.
  • This can be used to generate steam energy, which can be converted into electric energy.

A well-planned plant

  • The waste-to-energy plants usually accept the RDF material generated in organic composting plants.
  • They also segregate the wet and inorganic material near the plant, convert organic waste to compost, and inorganic waste to energy.
  • About 50 tonnes of RDF generate 1 MW of power, which indicates that the plant at Bidadi has been appropriately designed.

A permanent solution

  • Handling inorganic waste that is not fit for recycling has always been a challenge.
  • At present, these high-calorific materials are landfilled or left unhandled in waste plants and cause fire accidents.
  • Attempts to send this material to cement kilns have not fructified.
  • The proposed plant can source 600 tonnes per day of this RDF and generate 11.5 MW of power equivalent to 2.4 lakh units of power per day.
  • This will reduce the dependence on unscientific landfills, reduce fire accidents, and provide a permanent solution to recover value from inorganic waste.

Challenges

  • Needed a good demonstration model – Over the last decade, several Indian cities have been trying to set up such plants but a good demonstration model is yet to be established.
  • Nature of waste – Technology suppliers are international organizations who struggle with the change in quality and nature of waste generated in Indian cities. A few plants in India have stopped operations for this reason.
  • The plants require fine inorganic material with less than 5% moisture and less than 5% silt and soil contents, whereas the moisture and inert content in the mixed waste generated is more than 15%-20%.
  • The sticky silt and soil particles can also reduce the calorific value.
  • Economic cost per unit of electricity – The other big challenge for this plant is the power tariff which is around ₹7-8 KwH which is higher than the ₹3-4 per KwH generated through coal and other means.

Way forward

  • For the successful running, the plant needs to ease the challenge of handling inorganic waste, the efficiency of organic waste processing/ composting plants.
  • With the increasing waste generation in the coming years, there is a need for more such plants which are environment friendly. 

Back2Basics: Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)

  • Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a fuel produced from various types of waste such as municipal solid waste (MSW), industrial waste or commercial waste.
  • It is selected waste and by-products with recoverable calorific value can be used as fuels in a cement kiln, replacing a portion of conventional fossil fuels, like coal, if they meet strict specifications.
  • Sometimes they can only be used after pre-processing to provide ‘tailor-made’ fuels for the cement process.
  • RDF consists largely of combustible components of such waste, as non-recyclable plastics (not including PVC), paper cardboard, labels, and other corrugated materials.
  • These fractions are separated by different processing steps, such as screening, air classification, ballistic separation, separation of ferrous and non-ferrous materials, glass, stones and other foreign materials and shredding into a uniform grain size, or also pelletized.
  • This produces a homogeneous material which can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels in e.g. cement plants, lime plants, coal-fired power plants or as a reduction agent in steel furnaces.

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What is Pyrolysis?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pyrolysis

Mains level: Not Much

Plastic from used personal protective equipment (PPE) can be transformed into renewable liquid fuels using chemical a process called pyrolysis, says a new study.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In the context of which one of the following are the terms ‘pyrolysis and plasma gasification’ mentioned? (CSP 2019)

(a) Extraction of rare earth elements

(b) Natural gas extraction technologies

(c) Hydrogen fuel-based automobiles

(d) Waste-to-energy technologies

What is Pyrolysis?

  • Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere.
  • It involves a change in chemical composition. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro “fire” and lysis “separating”.
  • It is most commonly used in the treatment of organic materials. It is one of the processes involved in charring wood.
  • It is considered as the first step in the processes of gasification or combustion.

How does it work?

  • In general, pyrolysis of organic substances produces volatile products and leaves a solid residue enriched in carbon, char.
  • Extreme pyrolysis, which leaves mostly carbon as the residue, is called carbonization.
  • The process is used heavily in the chemical industry, for example, to produce ethylene, many forms of carbon, and other chemicals from petroleum, coal, and even wood, to produce coke from coal.

Applications

  • Aspirational applications of pyrolysis would convert biomass into syngas and biochar, waste plastics back into usable oil, or waste into safely disposable substances.

Limitations and Concerns

  • The technology requires drying of soil prior to treatment.
  • Limited performance data are available for systems treating hazardous wastes containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other organics.
  • There is concern that systems that destroy chlorinated organic molecules by heat have the potential to create products of incomplete combustion, including dioxins and furans.
  • These compounds are extremely toxic in the parts per trillion range.
  • The molten salt is usually recycled in the reactor chamber. However, depending on the waste treated (especially inorganics) and the amount of ash, spent molten salt may be hazardous and require special care in disposal.
  • Pyrolysis is not effective in either destroying or physically separating inorganics from the contaminated medium.
  • Volatile metals may be removed as a result of the higher temperatures associated with the process, but they are not destroyed.
  • When the off-gases are cooled, liquids condense, producing an oil/tar residue and contaminated water.
  • These oils and tars may be hazardous wastes, requiring proper treatment, storage, and disposal.

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In news: Ghazipur Landfill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Landfills

Mains level: Social and environmental threats posed by Landfills

The Ghazipur landfill site rises by nearly 10 metres a year and is expected to surpass the height of Qutub Minar and other vertical structures in the country.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2016:

Q.What can be the impact of excessive/inappropriate use of nitrogenous fertilizers in agriculture?

  1. Proliferation of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in soil can occur.
  2. Increase in the acidity of soil can take place.
  3. Leaching of nitrate to the ground-water can occur.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are Landfills?

  • A landfill site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials.
  • Some landfill sites are also used for waste management purposes, such as temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or for various stages of processing waste material, such as sorting, treatment, or recycling.

Threats posed by landfills

Landfills have the potential to cause a number of issues. Infrastructure disruption, such as damage to access roads by heavy vehicles, may occur amongst others.

1) Leachate

  • When precipitation falls on open landfills, water percolates through the garbage and becomes contaminated with suspended and dissolved material, forming leachate.
  • If this is not contained it can contaminate groundwater.

2) Decomposition gases

  • Rotting food and other decaying organic waste create decomposition gases, especially CO2 and CH4 from aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, respectively.
  • Both processes occur simultaneously in different parts of a landfill.

3) Other threats

  • Poorly run landfills may become nuisances because of vectors such as rats and flies which can spread infectious diseases.
  • The occurrence of such vectors can be mitigated through the use of daily cover.
  • Other potential issues include wildlife disruption due to occupation of habitat and animal health disruption caused by consuming waste from landfills, dust, odour, noise pollution, and reduced local property values.

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Private: E-waste Management in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level: Need for e-waste management in India

A record 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste was generated globally in 2019, up by 21 per cent in just five years, according to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020 released recently
With 10.1 million tonnes, China was the biggest contributor to e-waste, and the United States was second with 6.9 million tonnes. India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was the third biggest contributor.

What is e-waste?

Electronic waste or e-waste refers to electronic products which have become unwanted, obsolete and have reached the end of their useful life. It refers to all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of reuse.

What are the impacts of E-waste on the environment and human health?

Air:

  • Disassembling and shredding of e-waste generate dust or large particulates into the surroundings and affects the respiratory health of waste management workers and others.
  • Moreover, unregulated burning of e-waste produces toxin especially brominated & chlorinated dioxins which are toxic and damaging to both neurological and immune system of humans and animals.

Water:

  • (Landfills are not properly designed to hold e-waste + Illegal dump sites + Improper recycling & disposal of e-waste) = compounds leach into the ground = Groundwater gets toxified due to heavy metals from e-waste.

Soil:

  • Soil is contaminated by direct contact with contaminants from e-waste or its by-products from recycling & disposal + indirectly through irrigation.
  • Soils become toxic when substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) are deposited in landfills.
  • Contaminated soils have bad impacts on microbes and plants => the pollutants reach higher animals or humans through the food chain.

What are the international initiatives regarding E-waste?

1.Basel Convention on the Control of the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, 1992

  • Originally, the Basel convention did not mention e-waste. E-waste was included only in 2006 (COP8).
  • The convention seeks to ensure environmentally sound management, prevention of illegal traffic to developing countries and building capacity to manage e-waste.
  • COP9 of the Basel convention adopted the Nairobi declaration which seeks to create innovative solutions for the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

2.Rotterdam Convention, 2004

It seeks to promote information exchange among parties over a range of potentially hazardous chemicals (including pesticides & industrial chemicals) that may be imported or exported.

What are the initiatives taken by India?

  • Until 2011, E-waste was dealt with under the Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) Rules.
  • In 2011, the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 was enacted under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
  • In 2016, the E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 was enacted which replaced the 2011 rules and was eventually amended in 2018.

E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016:

Applicability:

  • It covers Producers, Consumers, Collection Centres, Dismantlers & Recyclers, Manufacturers, Dealers, Refurbishers, and Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs).
  • But Micro and Small Industries are exempted from its ambit.
  • The rules are applicable to several equipments/products, components, consumables, spares and parts of EEE.
  • Furthermore, Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamp are also covered under the rules.

Collection:

  • The rules adopt collection based approach by introducing collection centres, collection point, take back system, etc. for collection of e-waste by producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Note: EPR is an environmental policy approach by which the responsibility of the producer for a product is extended to the post-utility stage of a product’s life cycle.
  • The rule provides for Pan India authorization of EPR by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) replacing the state-wise EPR authorization as provided under the 2011 rules.

Deposit refund scheme:

  • This serves as an additional economic instrument in which the producer charges an extra amount as a deposit during the sale of the equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the used equipment is returned.

Liability for damages:

  • Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party because of improper management of e-waste has been introduced.
  • Financial penalty in case of violation of rules.

Role of State and Local Bodies:

  • States should ensure proper implementation of the rules.
  • Urban local bodies have been given the duty to collect and channelise the e-wastes to authorized dismantler or recycler.

Hazardous and other wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules 2016:

  • It seeks to ensure management, transboundary movement, resource recovery and disposal of hazardous waste in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Under the rules, waste electrical and electronic assemblies scrap are prohibited for import.

Programmes:

  • Awareness Program on Environmental Hazards of Electronic Waste: by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which aims at providing training, tools, and films that seeks to create awareness and minimising the impact of e-waste on the environment and health.
  • Creation of Management Structure for Hazardous Substances:This programme aims at creating awareness among people regarding the 2016 rules and its implementation.
  • Swachh Digital Bharat: seeks to raise awareness among the public regarding the recycling of e-wastes by unorganised sector and to educate them about alternative methods of disposing of their e-waste. The general public is encouraged to participate in the programme, by giving their e-waste to authorised recyclers only.
  • Greene: is a dedicated portal which seeks to create awareness about e-waste via social media.

How E-wastes are being managed in India?

  • Around 95% of the recycling of e-waste in India is done by the informal/unorganised sector.
  • Informal e-waste recycling units are distributed all over India.
  • Informal sector mostly follows the steps mentioned below:
    1. Collection of e-waste from the rag pickers.
    2. Disassembly of the products for their useable parts, components, modules, which are having resell value.
    3. The rest of the material is chemically treated to recover precious/rare-earth metals. Non-recoverable materials are disposed of in landfills.
  • Organised or formal recycling units are very few in India. Unlike the informal sector, they use environmental-friendly methods for recycling of e-waste.

What are the issues or challenges with the E-waste management in India?

1.Lack of proper infrastructure & mechanism:

  • The number of present recycling and collection facilities does not match the amount of e-waste being generated in India.
  • Lack of effective collection and take-back system.
  • According to the ASSOCHAM study, only 5 percent of e-waste is formally recycled.

2.E-waste dumping by foreign countries:

  • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India is a major problem.
  • India has been the destination of the hazardous and industrial wastes such as mercury, electronic and plastic wastes from the United States, asbestos from Canada, defective steel and tin plates from the EU, Australia and the US, Zinc ash, residues, lead waste and scrap, used batteries, etc. from European countries.

3.Issues with the informal sector:

  • Child Labour: ASSOCHAM report (2014) mentions that around 4.5 lakh child labourers are found to be engaged in several E-waste activities and that too without necessary protection and safeguards.
  • Occupational Health Hazard:Unscientific recycling methods + lack of proper safety gear = serious health effects to those employed in the informal sector.

4.Poor enforcement of EPR:

  • Setting up collection centres for entire India is not economically feasible for a company.
  • Customer care representatives do not know about their companies’ responsibility to take back what they produce (EPR).
  • The producers/manufacturers do not have adequate information on their website regarding e-waste management.

5.Gaps in rules:

  • E-waste rules have also been violated on a regular basis and the informal sector stays unregulated.
  • There is no mechanism to verify whether all firms have achieved their EPR targets. Notably, the verification is only done via random checks by CPCB.
  • Moreover, according to the law, the responsibility of producers is not limited to waste collection, but also to make sure that the waste reaches the authorised recycler. However, there is no mechanism to ensure that the waste collected by producers is not going to unauthorised recyclers.

6.Lack of incentives:

  • There are no incentive schemes to promote people adopting a formal path of recycling.
  • The GST imposed a hefty 12% tax on electronic recyclers = deterrent for formal recycling.

7.Lack of awareness:

  • There is a lack of awareness among people since they don’t know that there are collection centres exist to collect used electronics products for recycling.
  • Further, the lack of awareness results in poor segregation of waste.

Environmental concerns: Informal recycling and dumping of e-waste in landfills or burning of e-waste poses a serious threat to the environment and has far-reaching implications on animal and human health.

What is the way forward?

1.Checking unregulated e-waste imports: by strengthening the domestic legal framework.

2.Transition to formal: Measures needed to be taken to formalize the informal sector by integrating it with the formal sector.  The government should launch vocational training programs to rightly skill the present unorganized sector employees to make sure of their smoother transition to working with the organized sector.

3.R&D: The government must promote research into the development of better as well as environmentally-sustainable e-waste recycling methods.

4.Assessment: There is an urgent requirement for a detailed assessment of the E-waste including quantification, characteristics, current disposal practices, environmental impacts, etc.

5.Facilities: There is a need for more recycling facilities and the development of infrastructure to manage e-waste effectively. The government should promote Public-Private Partnership for setting up of e-waste collection, exchange, and recycling centres.

6.Incentives: There is a need for an effective take-back program by providing incentives to producers.

7.Mass awareness programmes: should be launched to promote consumers to reuse/ recycle electronic products and also educate them about the environmental and health impacts of e-waste.

Adopt Norway’s Model

  • Norway has an e-waste take-back system in place for more than a decade now.
  • The producers/importers of e-waste in Norway are obliged to be members of a take-back company and have to pay a fee for their membership to the take-back companies.
  • This is how it provides the funding for collection and treatment of the waste
  • Take-back companies need to ensure that they will collect all e-waste from their market share which is determined by how much of electronics is put into the market by their members.

Separate legislation:

  • The government should bring separate legislation on e-waste instead of handling it under the Environment Protection Act
  • Such legislation may call for establishing a central authority or a central public sector undertaking having experts from IT field and other technical domains possessing knowledge of e-waste disposal, management, and recycling techniques and its own e-waste collection centre/ recycling plants with state-of-art technologies, in all major cities of the country.From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :Prelims level : Not MuchMains level : Need for e-waste management in India

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Plastic waste management in pandemic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SUP

Mains level: Paper 3- Plastic waste and its management

The threat posed by plastic waste to the environment is well established. The corona pandemic has led to an increase in plastic waste. This article suggests some ways to deal with the issue.

Rising plastic use during pandemic

  •  In 2018, a report by McKinsey estimated that, globally, we generate 350 million tonnes of plastic waste.
  • Only 16 per cent of it is recycled.
  • Today, due to pandemic the amount of plastic waste we are generating is much higher than that estimated in the McKinsey report.
  • The Guardian recently reported that there are possibly more masks than jellyfish in the oceans today.

Management of plastic in India

  • We have the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which were updated and amended in 2018.
  • In fact, India saw incredible momentum in its fight for effective management of plastic waste in the last year.
  • The Prime Minister made clarion calls for a jan andolan (people’s movement) to curb the use of single-use plastic(SUP).
  • Jan andolan was also to ensure proper disposal of all plastic waste.
  • Also, the entire country rallied together under the banner of the Swachhata Hi Seva campaign.

Why single-use plastic is different

  • Plastic is not the problem, our handling of it is.
  • We need plastic, but not SUP, which is difficult to dispose of effectively, and that is where the problem lies.
  • It is important to understand this distinction.
  • By understanding this distinction we may change our behaviour and our lifestyles, to balance our need for plastic with effectively managing its waste.

Way forward

  • One way to approach the issue is to treat it not just as an environmental problem but as an economic opportunity.
  •  We require new business models which are designed for sustainability.
  • In Uganda, they are melting plastic waste to make face shields which are being sold for just a dollar each.
  • But, most of all, we need a tectonic shift in the behaviour of consumers.
  • We need consumers to care about their role in the plastic waste value chain.
  • Under phase 2 of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) village communities are now starting to plan for setting up waste collection and segregation systems, with material recovery facilities at the block- level.
  • Change is possible when we take necessary steps to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and, when all else fails, Remove, or dispose of plastic waste safely and effectively.
  • Raising awareness amongst the public of the harm caused by plastic pollution through education and outreach programs to modify behavior.
    • A movement against plastic waste would have to prioritise the reduction of single-use plastic such as multi-layer packaging, bread bags, food wrap, and protective packaging.
  • Promote Alternatives, before the ban or levy comes into force, the availability of alternatives need to be assessed, hence the government may:
    • Provide economic incentives to encourage the uptake of eco-friendly and fit-for-purpose alternatives that do not cause more harm.
    • Support can include tax rebates, research and development funds, technology incubation, public-private partnerships and support to projects that recycle single-use items and turn waste into a resource that can be used again.
    • Reduce or abolish taxes on the import of materials used to make alternatives.
  • Provide incentives to the alternative industry by introducing tax rebates or other conditions to support its transition from plastic industry.
  • Expanding the use of biodegradable plastics or even edible plastics made from various materials such as bagasse (the residue after extracting juice from sugarcane), corn starch, and grain flour.
  • Use of microbeads in personal care products and cosmetics must be prohibited.
  • Target the most problematic single-use plastics by conducting a baseline assessment to identify the most problematic single-use plastics, as well as the current causes, extent and impacts of their mismanagement.
  • Consider the best actions to tackle the problem of plastic waste management (e.g. through regulatory, economic, awareness, voluntary actions) given the country’s socio-economic standing.
  • Assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts (positive and negative) of the preferred short-listed plastic waste management measures/actions, by considering how will the poor be affected, or what impact will the preferred course of action have on different sectors and industries.
  • Identify and engage key stakeholder groups like retailers, consumers, industry representatives, local government, manufacturers, civil society, environmental groups, and tourism associations in order to ensure broad buy-in.
  • Explaining the decision and any punitive measures that will follow, as a result of non compliance of plastic management rule.
  • Use revenues collected from taxes or levies on single-use plastics to maximize the public good, thereby supporting environmental projects or boosting local recycling with the funds and creating jobs in the plastic recycling sector with seed funding.
  • Enforce the plastic waste management measure effectively, by making sure that there is clear allocation of roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor and adjust the plastic waste management measure if necessary and update the public on progress.

Consider the question “What are the legal provisions for plastic waste management in India? Suggest the ways to deal with the issue of plastic waste effectively.”

Conclusion

The corona pandemic crisis should not blind us to the plastic crisis and we should try to bring about the behaviour change when it comes to the use of plastic and devise the economic model.

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[pib] Regulation of Bio-Medical Waste

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Biomedical waste

Mains level: Treatment of Biomedical waste

 

The State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) have recently published the details of State/UT-wise quantum of bio-medical waste generation (during 2016-18) in the country.

Bio-Medical Waste

Biomedical waste/hospital waste is any kind of waste containing infectious materials.  It may also include waste associated with the generation of biomedical waste that visually appears to be of medical.

  • Hospital waste refers to all waste, biological or non‐ biological that is discarded and not intended for further use.
  • Bio-medical waste means any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological and including categories mentioned in Schedule I, of the BMW rules, 2016.

Who deals with Bio-medical wastes in India?

  • Central Pollution Control Board has been following up with all SPCBs/PCCs to ensure effective management of biomedical waste in States/UTs.

Collection and disposal

  • The collection and disposal is treated and disposed as per the specified methods of disposal prescribed under Schedule I of the Rules.
  • Bio-medical waste generated from the hospitals shall be treated and disposed by Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility.
  • In case there is no common facility in the reach of a healthcare facility, then such healthcare facility should install captive treatment and disposal facility.
  • There are 200 authorized Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facilities (CBWTFs) in 28 States for environmentally safe disposal of biomedical waste.
  • Remaining 7 States namely Goa, Andaman Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim do not have CBWTFs.

Categorization

As informed by CPCB and as per Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, Bio-medical waste is required to be segregated in 4 color coded waste categories.

  • Common methods of treatment and disposal of bio-medical waste are by incineration/plasma pyrolysis/deep-burial for Yellow Category waste;
  • Autoclaving/microwaving/chemical disinfection for Red Category waste;
  • Sterilization and shredding, disinfection followed by burial in concrete pit/recycling through foundry/encapsulation for White Category sharps waste; and
  • Washing, disinfection followed by recycling for Blue Category glass waste.

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Polycrack Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Polycrack Technology

Mains level: Polycrack Technology and its benefits

 

Indian Railways has put in place the country’s first Waste to Energy plant in Mancheswar Carriage Repair Workshop which falls under East Coast Railway. It uses a patented technology called POLYCRACK, is first-of-its-kind in Indian Railways and fourth in India.

Polycrack Technology

  • It is world’s first patented heterogeneous catalytic process which converts multiple feed stocks into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon and water.
  • The process is a closed-loop system and does not emit any hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere.

Feeders

  • Polycrack Plant can be fed with all types of plastic, petroleum sludge, un-segregated MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) with moisture up to 50%, e–waste, automobile fluff, organic waste including bamboo, garden waste etc., and Jatropha fruit and palm bunch.

How it works?

  • The process is a closed-loop system and does not emit any hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • The combustible, non-condensed gases are re-used for providing energy to the entire system and thus, the only emission comes from the combustion of gaseous fuels.
  • The emissions from the combustion are found to be much less than prescribed environmental norms.
  • This process will produce energy in the form of Light Diesel Oil which is used to light furnaces.

Advantages of Polycrack

Polycrack has the following advantages over the conventional approach of treating solid waste:

  • Pre-segregation of waste is not required to reform the waste. Waste as collected can be directly fed into Polycrack.
  • It has high tolerance to moisture hence drying of waste is not required.
  • Waste is processed and reformed within 24 hours.
  • It is an enclosed unit hence the working environment is dust free.
  • Excellent air quality surrounding the plant.
  • Biological decomposition is not allowed as the Waste is treated as it is received.
  • The foot print of the plant is small hence the area required for installing the plant is less when compared with conventional method of processing.
  • All constituents are converted into valuable energy thereby making it Zero Discharge Process.
  • Gas generated in the process is re-used to provide energy to the system thereby making it self-reliant and also bring down the operating cost.
  • There is no atmospheric emission during the process unlike other conventional methods except for combustion gases which have pollutants less than the prescribed norms the world over.
  • Operates around 450 degrees, making it a low temperature process when compared with other options.
  • Safe and efficient system with built-in safety features enables even an unskilled user to operate the machine with ease.
  • Low capital cost and low operating cost.
  • Fully automated system requires minimum man power.

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