My country, India that is, on one hand, rising up under the leadership of Narendra Modi (Present Prime Minister) with programs such as MAKE IN INDIA and SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN, on the other hand the government has failed to provide the basic structure for waste segregation. It has also been observed that right from political leaders to school teachers all have failed to inculcate the habit of “NOT LITTERING” in the citizens of India.
Every day tons of unsegregated waste is collected by our municipalities and sent to landfills. Outskirts of our over populated cities are spoiled by the foul smell, rodents, flies and predatory birds who lunch on this waste in landfills. Landfills release methane gas (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere rather than being put to proper use. Landfills are also a health hazard for the people who work in there.
Landfill which was a successful technique a few years back is no longer a sustainable option. The ever growing city circumference and the severe land crunch have made this option tougher for our municipalities to manage it.
Only if we could take the segregation of waste at home level seriously the tons of waste produced every day can be handled in a very sustainable manner. When we segregate waste we segregate the biodegradable solid waste from the non-biodegradable waste. The biodegradable part is of great use to us. Many cities in India have started making it compulsory for households to segregate their waste. Pune city for example (from my personal example and case study done by me) has made it compulsory to sort the waste into the two bins provided by the municipality. The waste while being collected is checked and if not sorted properly it is not taken by the waste collector.
The wet waste is sent to plants. These plants extract energy from waste by various processes. Few plants make methane which is a biofuel while few make composts. The end products of composts can be used as fertilizers. Electricity can also be produced from methane gas.
However, this is done in very few cities. Even today people are lethargic to sort the waste for their own good. Sorted waste can be put to good use. In Mumbai (case study by Go.In.Green) where the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is on the rise and Municipal corporations have set up two separate waste collection bins one for wet waste and one for dry waste. But in the end, all of it goes into the same waste collecting van. This is a massive failure.
In Australia where I am currently staying from past 2 years, we have to sort our waste into three categories – waste, recycle waste and green waste. We have one garbage bin allocated for each category and waste collection is done weekly. We have to sort our waste and need to stick to the given size. No extra waste will be taken by the council. By doing this the waste is not only sorted but also the amount of waste produced has been limited from each house. Also if you need an extra garbage bin you need to pay an extra amount hence, people avoid it.
Limiting the amount of waste produced and sorting the waste is very important. We owe that to nature and our environment. I will end this article by Gandhiji’s saying that
The world has enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.
The principle can be easily applied to sustainable living where we use only what is required and not waste resources. And if we are wasting we make sure that it is respectfully disposed of.