Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Jun, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Plastic-free India is a nudge away


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Plastic Waste Management Rules (2016), Nudge theory

Mains level: The editorial discusses how nudge theory can be implemented in reducing usage of plastic


Change in Plastic Waste Management Rules

  1. The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change amended the Plastic Waste Management Rules (2016)
  2. According to the amendment, manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers of plastic (and plastic products) across the nation will now be required to phase out, over a period of two years, all such products which have no alternative use or are non-recyclable and non-energy recoverable
  3. This move was preceded by a state-wide ban in Maharashtra on the manufacture, usage, sale (wholesale and retail), distribution, storage and import of plastic bags and all disposable products made out of plastic

Impact of the ban on average Indian citizen

  1. To the people employed in the industry, it could mean the shutdown of factories and potential job losses
  2. To the consumer, it would mean choosing between alternatives that are either too expensive, impractical or not as easily available
  3. The unrealistic timeline for the implementation of the plastic ban has caught all stakeholders unawares, making it extremely difficult to comply with

An end-to-end approach to eradicate the use and sale of plastic


  • The government can nudge rather than coerce citizens to demand and use less plastic
  • A “nudge”, as Nobel laureate Richard Thaler defines it, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives
  • One way of doing this would be to give discounts to customers who bring their own bags, or reward points for not requesting a plastic bag—as opposed to fining, penalizing, or charging high prices
  • Normative social influence bias can be leveraged to nudge Indian citizens away from plastic
  • This bias taps into people’s intrinsic urge to conform and be liked by those around them
  • Another nudge, which has been extremely successful globally in donation scenarios, is the “opt-out model”
  • Here, customers would by default be considered as opted-in for non-plastic items, forcing them to manually opt-out to choose otherwise

Way forward

  1. In 2025, it is estimated that the annual input of plastic waste from land to ocean will be over 16 million metric tons—almost 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world
  2. Estimated 60-95% of this marine pollution comes from land-based sources (primarily plastic), resulting in the death of 100,000 marine mammals annually, apart from killing millions of birds and fish
  3. India has indeed taken a step in the right direction, with 18 states and Union territories having imposed a complete ban on plastic
  4. But we also need to realize that a ban can only be a means to an end, and not the end itself
Jun, 26, 2018

[op-ed snap] Reduce, segregate: On plastic ban


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Environment Day, Bureau of Indian Standards

Mains level: Scourge of plastic waste in India & world and methods that can reduce it


Plastic ban in Maharashtra

  1. Maharashtra has put a ban on several consumer articles made of plastic, after a three-month notice period to industry and users
  2. It is being termed as naturally disruptive and extreme

Need for reducing plastic usage

  1. Today, stemming the plastic tide is a national imperative
  2. India hosted this year’s World Environment Day and PM Modi made a high-profile pledge, to international acclaim, that it would do away with all single-use plastics by 2022
  3. Worldwide, the problem has got out of hand, with only 9% of about nine billion tonnes of plastic produced getting recycled

What led to the ban?

  1. India has an uninspiring record when it comes to handling waste
  2. India’s plastic waste is estimated officially at 26,000 tonnes a day
  3. If the Centre and the States had got down to dealing with the existing regulations on plastic waste management and municipal solid waste, a ban would not even have become necessary
  4. Specifications for the recycling of different types of plastics were issued two decades ago by the Bureau of Indian Standards

What needs to be done?

  1. There has to be an effort on a war footing to segregate this waste at source
  2. Priority should be given to stop the generation of mixed waste, which prevents recovery of plastics
  3. Companies covered by extended producer responsibility provisions must be required to take back their waste
  4. Incentives to reduce the use of plastic carry bags, single-use cups, plates and cutlery must be in place
  5. Retailers must be required to switch to paper bags
  6. Carry bag production using cloth can create more jobs than machines using plastic pellets
  7. The Urban Development Secretary in each State, who heads the monitoring committee under the rules, should be mandated to produce a monthly report on how much plastic waste is collected, including details of the types of chemicals involved, and the disposal methods
  8. Such compulsory disclosure norms will maintain public pressure on the authorities, including the State Pollution Control Boards

Way Forward

  1. Plastics became popular because they are inexpensive, can be easily produced and offer great convenience
  2. Their wild popularity has turned them into a scourge
  3. We need substitutes for plastic, incentives to re-use, and better waste disposal
Jun, 07, 2018

[op-ed snap] Life in plastic: on waste management framework


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Mains level: This article critically analyses policy vacuum in India in plastic waste management.


Dismal Framework on Paper only

  1. The Solid Waste Management Rules and the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which built on previous regulations, mostly remain on paper.
  2. The Centre’s somewhat liberal estimate shows over 60% of about 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated daily is collected.
  3. That essentially means a staggering 10,000 tonnes of trash is being released into the environment, a lot of it going into the sea. Also, not every piece of plastic collected by the system is scientifically processed.
  4. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is on the UN map of 10 rivers worldwide that collectively carry the bulk of the plastic waste into the oceans.
  5. The effects are evident: they threaten marine life and the well-being of people, as microplastics are now found even in drinking water.

Outreaching with Environment (Protection) Act: Need of the hour

  1. In their response to the crisis, communities and environmentally minded individuals are ahead of governments and municipal authorities.
  2. But, valuable as they are, voluntary efforts cannot achieve what systemic reform can.
  3. It is the Centre’s responsibility to ensure that the Environment (Protection) Act, the overarching law that enables anti-pollution rules to be issued, is implemented in letter and spirit.
  4. Ideally, regulation should help stop the manufacture of single-use plastic articles such as carry bags and cutlery, and encourage the use of biodegradable materials.

The Real Challenge

  1. The provisions of the Plastic Waste Management Rules require manufacturers of compostable bags to get a certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board, but this has not stopped counterfeit products from entering the market.
  2. Local bodies mandated under rules to ensure segregation, collection and transfer of waste to registered recyclers have spectacularly failed to fulfil their responsibilities.
  3. The State Level Monitoring Committees provided for under the rules have not been made accountable. The waste management framework is dysfunctional, and India and the world face a plastics crisis.
  4. Solving it will take more than slogans
Jan, 18, 2018

Govt seeks tech solutions for waste management


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Waste to wealth concept

Mains level: Rising domestic as well as industrial waste in India and problems associated with it


Concept note in waste management technologies

  1. The science and technology ministry has called for a concept note in waste management technologies by 31 January from interested academic institutes and research & development (R&D) organizations
  2. The government is seeking technological solutions for managing the huge untreated waste across the country
  3. The waste is not only leading to poor sanitary conditions but also damaging the environment

What is government seeking?

  1. The government is looking at organizations to participate in developing technologies for biomedical waste and for setting up a demo plant for hazardous waste in an institute or university
  2. It is also looking at technologies to address agricultural waste (stubble management) to find an alternative to crop burning
  3. The move is part of government’s concept of ‘waste to wealth
  4. Electronic waste is another focus area as the government is looking at developing “simple indigenous material recovery technology for specific applications (precious and other metals, plastics, glass and rare earths) in collaboration with industry
  5. Besides these, other major areas that are on the government’s radar are urban and rural solid waste and industrial waste

Problem of waste management

  1. Around 62 million tonnes (mt) of solid waste is generated in India every year but only 43 mt is collected and a mere 12 mt treated
  2. About 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day but of that, only 9,000 tonnes is collected and processed
  3. India generates 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste annually, which is rising at the rate of 5% a year
Dec, 29, 2017

Bali declares ‘garbage emergency’ amid sea of waste

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Clean seas campaign, Global Partnership on Marine Litter

Mains level: Harmful effects of plastic waste on marine life and ways to reduce it


World’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris

  1. A colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia
  2. The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris after China

Garbage emergency

  1. The waves of plastic flooding into rivers and oceans have been causing problems for years
  2. It has been clogging waterways in cities, increasing the risk of floods, and injuring or killing marine animals who ingest or become trapped by plastic packaging
  3. Microplastics can contaminate fish which, if eaten by humans, could cause health problems including cancer
  4. The problem has grown so bad that officials in Bali last month declared a “garbage emergency” across a six-kilometer stretch of coast

Clean Seas campaign

  1. Indonesia is one of nearly 40 countries that are part of UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign
  2. As part of its commitment, the Indonesian government has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 % by 2025


UNEP Clean Seas Campaign

  1. The campaign aims to halt the tide of plastic trash polluting the oceans
  2. UN Environment launched #CleanSeas in February 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter
  3. Over the next five years, UNEP will address the root-cause of marine litter by targeting the production and consumption of non-recoverable and single-use plastic
  4. The campaign contributes to the goals of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, a voluntary open-ended partnership for international agencies, governments, businesses, academia, local authorities and non-governmental organizations hosted by UN Environment


Dec, 02, 2017

[pib] Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities Introduced


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Star rating protocol for garbage free cities

Mains level: Urbanisation challenges


  • A guide Book for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on Bulk Solid Waste Generator’s Compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, and the online database for states and cities, both pertaining to SBM Urban was launched
  • The guidebook lays out the roles and responsibilities of bulk waste generators and will handhold ULBs in implementing the SWM Rules,
  • While the online database will henceforth capture data directly from states and cities online, regarding their progress on SBM components, thereby enhancing the robustness and transparency of Mission monitoring.
  • The star rating protocol is different from the Swachh Survekshan ranking survey in that it will allow multiple cities to be awarded the same star rating, and is expected to be formally introduced by the Ministry in the next few weeks.

Major takeaways:

  • In order to enthuse cities with a spirit of healthy competition, the concept of a star rating protocol for garbage free cities was introduced during the workshop.
  • Given its potential as a developmental cum aspirational tool for cities to incrementally improve their overall cleanliness, while working towards a garbage-free status, this is expected to greatly enthuse the city administrators.
  • The focus on the issue of cleanliness of community and public toilets, there is a concerted drive to seek user feedback for CT/PTs through the Google toilet locator and Swachhata app.
  • Uploading all community / public toilets in cities on Google maps under the Business listing category, integrating with Swachhata app
Sep, 21, 2016

National wastewater reuse policy sought- II

  1. Source: The report ‘Closing the water loop: Reuse of treated wastewater in urban India’- by the global consulting firm PwC
  2. Ground water: Regulatory intervention is key to prevent industries from over-exploiting groundwater
  3. The current low cost of exploiting groundwater makes reuse unviable and at the same time, irrecoverably depletes groundwater resources
  4. Norms: The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources should work together to define quality norms for different grades of industrial water
  5. This would help standardise the design of reuse systems nationwide
  6. Historically, infrastructure development in the water sector has been fully funded by the Central Government
  7. For PPP (public-private partnership) structures to evolve in this sector, significant Govt interventions are required to create a favourable environment for private sector participation
Sep, 21, 2016

National wastewater reuse policy sought- I

  1. Source: The report ‘Closing the water loop: Reuse of treated wastewater in urban India’- by the global consulting firm PwC
  2. Why policy? To help address the perennial concern of urban water stress by mandating targets and laying out legislative, regulatory and financial measures to hit those targets
  3. Urban growth: Country is expected to add approximately 404 million new urban dwellers between now and 2050
  4. This rapid urban growth will be linked with higher industrial output and greater energy demand thus adding to the urban water stress
  5. Institutionalising the reuse of treated wastewater could go a long way in helping utilities to address this challenge in an effective manner

Discuss: With rapid urbanisation, municipal solid waste and waste water is increasingly generated. What could be done to tackle this mess in present context so as to balance urbanisation with the environment?

Apr, 06, 2016

Govt. notifies new rules on waste management

  1. News: The Environment Ministry has notified rules to ensure that the solid waste generated by some groups are treated and recycled
  2. Municipal bodies will be allowed to charge user fees and levy spot fines for littering and non-segregation
  3. There is a key provision is to formalise the profession of rag-picking, who form a critical arm of society
  4. Groups: Hotels, residential colonies, bulk producers of consumer goods, ports, railway stations, airports and pilgrimage spots
  5. Significance: The rules on solid waste management have been amended after 16 years
  6. Criticism: There is no binding provision on fines
Mar, 30, 2016

Rules to manage construction & demolition waste

  1. Context: Govt notified The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016
  2. Also include barring people from dumping such waste on roadsides and mandatory recycling
  3. Rules stipulate that building permits will be given only after a waste management plan is provided to authorities
  4. Aim: Reducing dust pollution that is linked to a spurt in respiratory diseases in big cities
Mar, 19, 2016

New plastic waste management rules

  1. Context: The Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules 2016, issued by the Union environment ministry
  2. Highlights: They bring the country’s gram panchayats into the picture
  3. It introduced the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR)
  4. Under the new ERP concept, producers are responsible for collecting waste generated from their products
  5. It also banned plastic carry bags thinner than 50 microns
Feb, 12, 2016

Centre makes it mandatory for power firms to buy from solid waste plants

  1. Context: Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission
  2. Background: About 1.68 lakh tonnes of solid waste is collected across the country
  3. What’s in the news? – It is mandatory for power distribution companies to buy electricity from power plants fuelled by solid waste
  4. Why? – Power discoms were not willing to buy electricity from solid waste-run power plants
  5. Objective: To generate 700 megawatts of electricity from solid waste-run plants in the next 5 years
Oct, 02, 2015

Swachh Bharat: plan to produce power, compost from solid waste

The Urban Development Ministry is planning to generate electricity and compost from municipal solid waste.


  1. A proposal will be introduced before Cabinet to provide Market Development Assistance on sale of city compost to farmers.
  2. Ministry of Power will amend the Electricity Act 2003 to enable mandatory purchase of power generated from municipal solid waste.
  3. The Power Ministry was finalising a tariff rate that would help “waste to energy projects” sustain in the market.
  4. The Ministry is also finalising the pricing model for the compost produced out of city trash, and it would be sold to farmers on subsidised rates.
Jun, 12, 2015

Delhi reels under 15,000 tonnes of waste

  1. Why? because  12,000 sanitation workers are refusing to work without getting their salaries.
  2. The Municipal corporations have the power to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act and force the sanitation staff to resume work but that’s far from their mind.
  3. Typhoid, jaundice and skin allergies are some of the most common health problems that can occur.
  4. Post-trifurcation of Delhi, the corporations, mainly East and North, have been struggling to streamline basic services like sanitation.
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