Solid waste management (SWM): An approach to save environment and public health
Solid waste management (SWM) is becoming a serious environmental burden and a rising issue as the world's population grows. Non-biodegradable and inorganic components are present in the day-to-day waste. If this garbage is dumped in-ground, it will not disintegrate naturally and will take hundreds of years to disappear. Waste mismanagement may lead to water contamination, Soil erosion, and air pollution, among other things. India experiences significant environmental issues due to garbage formation and limited waste collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal activities. The current system in the country is unable to handle the rising amounts of waste created by an expanding urban population, which has negative consequences for the environment and public health.
Despite being such a significant environmental concern, many people are yet to implement waste segregation at the source since the majority of them are uninformed about the procedure and lacked the motivation to change their habit of disposing of the waste completely. Waste can be recycled if collected and managed efficiently. Waste materials such as plastic, glass, and paper can be segregated into different columns to process them to make new products, which will save natural resources. Improper disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) can create unsanitary conditions and these conditions in turn can lead to pollution of the environment and outbreaks of diseases. People need to be aware of and participate in the waste segregation process.
Understanding the urgent importance, Earth Foundation is working on a solid waste management project. Earthful Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the efficient use of natural resources. It has been collaborating with a variety of schools, Companies, Apartments, and organisations on solid waste management to share knowledge and raise awareness about waste segregation and the negative consequences of plastic in our society.
The Case study of Guwahati Refinery Township Sector 1, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Assam
The township was generating around 322.5 kgs of household waste per day which was all mixed waste. 70% of the waste would have lost its recovery value as it was soiled, mixed, and dirty. There was no way out of the waste than ending up in landfills. Although the township had an organic waste convertor machine on its premises, it could not be put to optimum utilization as the organic waste was mixed with plastics and other rejected wastes. The mixed waste was also creating an unhygienic working condition for the housekeeping staff because it contains sanitary waste, diapers, etc. all together with organic waste and the recyclables.
Earthful Foundation launched Project Good Waste in the township intending to achieve an efficient waste management system in which the maximum amount of dry waste can be recovered and recycled, all organic waste can be composted, and unhygienic waste can be properly disposed of without causing a harmful effect.
The impact of Project Good Waste
The effort began by raising awareness of waste segregation among people and sensitising them to the problem. The team went door to door, guiding them in the practice of garbage separation. With proper instructions on each step, within a month, all of the residents had developed the habit of segregating their garbage in the coloured bins which later gets picked up by housekeeping staff.
Meanwhile, the Earthful Foundation team assisted the housekeeping with the segregation of the waste. The dry waste consisted of items like- glass, metal, paper, tetra pack, and different types of plastic like hard plastic, MLP, LDPE, HDPE, PET, etc. The housekeeping was further instructed in the segregation of the dry waste into 5 major categories and stored the dry waste accordingly in 5 different containers. Once the containers are full, it is handed over to the recycler.
The Organic Waste Converter was used to decompose the organic waste. The Earthful Foundation Team was able to recover around 80% of the garbage, both organic and inorganic, that had previously been discarded in landfills. If waste is not properly kept, collected, and disposed of, it poses a hazard to human health and the environment. The main intent of the Good Waste initiative is to modify people's perceptions of waste from "unwanted stuff with no inherent worth" to "waste as a beneficial resource" with proper management.
Guwahati Refinery Township Sector I is now on course to become a model of environmental sustainability with some effort, support, and awareness to change people's habits and ideas about waste management.
In addition, Project Good Waste also includes E-Waste Management in addition to Solid Waste Management. E-waste is the world’s most damaging waste. Globally, an estimated 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated each year, with 40 million tonnes going to landfills and dumpsites, or being burned or managed unsafely. If not properly disposed of, these products can have negative impacts on human and environmental health.
Earthful Foundation has been hosting E-waste Detox Drives, which are both awareness and collecting drives for electronic wastes, in an attempt to solve this rising problem of E-waste. The goal of the campaigns is to raise public awareness about the issue and encourage people not to hand over their E-waste to local waste vendors. The team creates awareness of channelizing their E-waste through a Pollution Control Board-approved recycling firm. It has been able to recover tonnes of E-waste through this programme, which would have otherwise ended up in landfills, creating major health risks and environmental harm to those around us.