Kolkata landfill
Solid Waste Disposal Ground in Kolkata
India relies on large scale landfills and the informal sector to help address its growing waste management challenges

Waste management in India falls under the purview of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). In 2016, this ministry released the Solid Wastage Management (SWM) Rules, which replaced by the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, and 2000 of which had been in place for 16 years.[1] This national policy plays a significant role in the acknowledgment and inclusion of the informal sector (waste pickers) into the waste management process for the first time.

India generates 62 million tonnes (61,000,000 long tons; 68,000,000 short tons) of waste each year. About 43 million tonnes (70%) are collected, of which about 12 million tonnes are treated, and 31 million tonnes are dumped in landfill sites.[2][3]

Farmland in Uttar Pradesh polluted by littering

With changing consumption patterns and rapid economic growth, it is estimated that urban municipal solid waste generation will increase to 165 million tonnes in 2030.[4][5][6]

Household waste generation and composition

Small-town waste separation initiative in Idukki District, Kerala

Solid waste management (SWM) is a major problem for many urban local bodies (ULBs) in India, where urbanization, industrialization, and economic growth have resulted in increased municipal solid waste (MSW) generation per person. Effective SWM is a major challenge in cities with high population density. Achieving sustainable development within a country experiencing rapid population growth and improvements in living standards is made more difficult in India because it is a diverse country with many different religious groups, cultures, and traditions.

Despite development in social, economic and environmental areas, SWM systems in India have remained relatively unchanged. The informal sector has a key role in extracting value from waste, with approximately 90% of residual waste currently dumped rather than properly landfilled. There is an urgent need to move to more sustainable SWM, which requires new management systems and waste management facilities. Current SWM systems are inefficient, with waste having a negative impact on public health, the environment, and the economy. The Waste Management and Handling Rules in India were introduced by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), yet, compliance is variable and limited.[7]

E-waste in India

Main article: Electronic waste in India

Waste collection truck in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

The global e-waste monitor, a collaboration between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations University, estimated that India generated 1.975 million tonnes of e-waste in 2016 or approximately 1.5 kg of e-waste per capita.[8]

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) stated rapid economic growth and changing consumer behaviour was likely to increase e-waste generation in India to 5.2 million tonnes per year by 2020.[9][10]

Solid Waste Management Rules

Solid Waste Management Rules were inaugurated in 2016. Highlights include:

Waste not the Waste - sign. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

Waste management market in India

Business case into Waste Management in India

By 2025, the waste management market size in India is projected to be worth ~USD 15 Billion, with annual growth around 7 percent.[15]

A growing economy, soaring urban population, rising living standards and increasing consumption levels are common trends in emerging economies across the globe. Similarly, in India, an increase in the purchasing power parity has led to more affordability, accessibility to resource use and a rapid surge in the waste volumes as well. Considering the current trend toward urbanization in India, the MSW quantum is expected to double the existing volumes within ten years. At approximately 80-85 MTs by 2030, presenting a business opportunity estimated at US$20 Billion.

City-based initiatives

In 2014 India inaugurated the Swachh Bharat Mission, a five-year nationwide cleanup effort. Before this national consolidated effort for systematic and total waste management came into common consciousness, many cities and towns in India had already launched individual efforts directed at municipal waste collection of segregated waste, either based on citizen activism and/or municipal efforts to set up sustainable systems.

Some examples are Swach based in Pune (formed in 1993),[16] Clean Cities Championship in Warangal, Nirmal Bhavanam, Nirmal Nagaram or Clean Homes, Clean City in Alappuzha, Engage 14 campaign in Gangtok, Zero Waste in Bobbili, Andhra Pradesh, Waste Management in Mysore and Solid Waste Management Round Table, Bangalore (formed in 2009).[17] Bangalore's Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike was directed by the High Court of Karnataka to implement mandatory segregation of municipal waste at the household level before collection – a first for the country.[18] It is a representation of citizen-based activism at a local level, and the litigation was led by notable activists such as Almitra Patel and Nalini Shekar. Following this High Court ruling, other cities in India have followed suit to make segregation of municipal waste mandatory at the generator level, Mumbai,[19] in typical. As per the Swachh Survekshan 2020 (Clean Survey, released in August, 2020) of the Govt. of India, the order of top 20 cleanest cities, with name of the respective state in parentheses, in India are as follows: 1. Indore (Madhya Pradesh) for the fourth consecutive year, 2. Surat (Gujarat), 3. Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra), 4. Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh), 5. Mysuru (Karnataka), 6. Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), 7. Ahmedabad (Gujarat), 8. New Delhi (Delhi), 9. Chandrapur (Maharashtra), 10. Khargone (Madhya Pradesh), 11. Rajkot (Gujarat), 12. Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), 13. Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), 14. Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), 15. Gandhinagar (Gujarat), 16. Chandigarh (Union Territory), 17. Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), 18. Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), 19. Nashik (Maharashtra) and 20. Raigarh (Chhattisgarh).[20]

State City Initiative Name[21] Implementing Agency
Ladakh (UT) Leh Project Tsangda Rural Development Department[21]
Chhattisgarh Durg - Municipal Corporation[21]
Chhattisgarh Ambikapur - Municipal Corporation[21]
Karnataka Mysuru - City Corporation[21]
Maharashtra Navi Mumbai - Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation[21]
Andhra Pradesh Visakhapatnam - Municipal Corporation[21]
Karnataka Bengaluru - Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike[21]
Madhya Pradesh Indore - Indore Municipal Corporation[21]
Maharashtra Pune - Pune Municipal Corporation[21]
Karnataka Bengaluru Bettahalasur Project TAICT[22]
Tamil Nadu Madurai T Kallupatti Town panchayat[23]
West Bengal Kolkata Kolkata Solid Waste Management Improvement Project Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority[24][25]

Information technology (IT) initiatives

MoEFCC launched a web based application in 2016 to track and monitor waste management in India.[26] The application, Integrated Waste Management System, collects information and assists in coordinating waste generators, recyclers, operators of disposal facilities and state agencies.  

Public-private partnership initiatives

Public-private partnerships (PPP) have been promoted by the Government of India for improving waste management services,[27][28] yet, have remained problematic. The challenges of improving solid waste management services in India are caused by lack of financial resources, lack of appropriate skills and technological competencies with the public sector. Governments have started to explore PPPs as an alternative.[29] The progress and improvement achieved remained low. Research on this has suggested recommendations in accordance with some issues uncovered.[30] For example, PPP in MSW is considered immature, yet, high pre-qualification requirements were established.[31] The urban local bodies (ULBs) found difficulties in defining an appropriate scope for some PPP projects.[32] The specific issue encounters include a dire need of services are the primary reason behind opting for PPP mode;[30] the perception that PPP gives greater benefit to the public; third and interconnected: PPPs avoid financial stress on the public sector; and fourth, PPPs are thought to constrain transaction costs and give value for the money invested. The research also revealed some serious negative issues that have crept-in while using PPP mode.[30] They are often procured in an incompetent manner, and as opposed to the expectation, they have resulted in high transaction costs and ineffective projects. The private sector appeared to be exploiting the sector without any beneficial projects.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "Solid waste management rules, 2016". Civilsdaily. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Solid waste management rules, 2016". Civilsdaily. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Government notifies new solid waste management rules". www.downtoearth.org.in/. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  4. ^ "'Solid Waste Management Rules Revised After 16 Years; Rules Now Extend to Urban and Industrial Areas': Javadekar". pib.nic.in. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 - India Environment Portal | News, reports, documents, blogs, data, analysis on environment & development | India, South Asia". www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  6. ^ admin (6 May 2017). "Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management - IAS prep - Sept 2017 update". iascurrent.com. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  7. ^ Kumar, Sunil; Smith, Stephen R.; Fowler, Geoff; Velis, Costas; Kumar, S. Jyoti; Arya, Shashi; Kumar, Rakesh; Cheeseman, Christopher (2017). "Challenges and opportunities associated with waste management in India". Royal Society Open Science. The Royal Society. 4 (3): 160764. doi:10.1098/rsos.160764. ISSN 2054-5703. PMC 5383819.
  8. ^ "India – 2016". E-Waste. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  9. ^ "India's e-waste to touch 5.2 MMT by 2020: ASSOCHAM-EY study - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  10. ^ "India to generate over 5 million tonnes of e-waste next year: ASSOCHAM-EY study". The Asian Age. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  11. ^ Dandapani, Swetha (30 November 2017). "Unpaid and undervalued, how India's waste pickers fight apathy to keep our cities clean". www.thenewsminute.com. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  12. ^ Bharati Chaturvedi. "Mainstreaming Waste Pickers and the Informal Recycling Sector".
  13. ^ "10 Things That You Need To Know About Solid Waste Management Rules 2016". NDTV.com. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Swachh India: Guide To Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 | Waste Management". NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India. 17 April 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Waste to Energy and Waste Management Market in India 2018". enincon.com. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  16. ^ Swach Co-op
  17. ^ "SWMRT – Solid Waste Management Round Table". Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  18. ^ Staff Reporter (1 August 2012). "High Court notice to government on segregation of waste at source". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  19. ^ Singh, Vijay V. (6 December 2016). "Soon, segregation of dry and wet waste will be compulsory all housing societies". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  20. ^ Reddy, Dhana Raju (2021). "Waste Management in India – An Overview" (PDF). United International Journal for Research & Technology (UIJRT). 02 (7): 175–196. ISSN 2582-6832.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Transforming Urban Landscapes of India" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
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  24. ^ "A Small Town in West Bengal Helped Kolkata Win a Global Award for Waste Management". The Better India. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  25. ^ "A tiny town in West Bengal is turning waste into piles of wealth". Hindustan Times. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  26. ^ "/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=145110". Press Information Bureau. 9 May 2016.
  27. ^ "Position paper on The Solid Waste Management sector in India" (PDF). Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Department of Economic Affairs. November 2009 – via environmentportal.in/content/308715/position-paper-on-the-solid-waste-management-sector-in-india/.
  28. ^ Joshi, Rajkumar; Ahmed, Sirajuddin; Ng, Carla Aparecida (19 February 2016). "Status and challenges of municipal solid waste management in India: A review". Cogent Environmental Science. 2 (1). doi:10.1080/23311843.2016.1139434.
  29. ^ Devkar, Ganesh A.; Mahalingam, Ashwin; Kalidindi, Satyanarayana N. (3 March 2017). "Competencies and urban Public-Private Partnership projects in India: A case study analysis". Policy and Society. 32 (2): 125–142. doi:10.1016/j.polsoc.2013.05.001. S2CID 155072781.
  30. ^ a b c d Dolla, Tharun; Laishram, Boeing (20 December 2019). "Factors affecting public-private partnership preference in Indian municipal waste sector". International Journal of Construction Management. 20 (6): 567–584. doi:10.1080/15623599.2019.1703085. S2CID 213509856.
  31. ^ Dolla, Tharun; Laishram, Boeing (8 May 2019). "Prequalification in municipal solid waste management public-private partnerships of India". Construction Economics and Building. 19 (1). doi:10.5130/AJCEB.v19i1.6431.
  32. ^ Dolla, Tharun; Laishram, Boeing (22 November 2019). "Bundling in public-private partnership projects – a conceptual framework". International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management. 69 (6): 1177–1203. doi:10.1108/IJPPM-02-2019-0086. S2CID 214533076.