1. Understanding Solid Waste Management (SWM)
People's daily activities create waste at home and outside. Collecting and recycling of waste is called solid waste management which needs our immediate attention otherwise Goa will have open dumps across the roads, drains, unutilized plots or streets which in turn will cause flooding, breeding of insects, spread of foul smell and diseases, etc.
Types of solid waste:
There are several types of solid waste like household waste (municipal waste), commercial waste (municipal waste from markets/restaurants, etc), industrial waste (hazardous waste) and biomedical waste from hospitals, etc can be infectious. There is household waste, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue and waste from streets. With rising urbanization and change in lifestyle and food habits, the quantity of municipal solid waste has been increasing rapidly and its composition changing. Many municipal areas have banned plastics and many large companies are using biodegradable cans and bags that can be composted and reused. There are various types of litter and each has a approximate time of degeneration.
Industrial and hospital waste is hazardous when they contain toxics harmful to humans, animals and plants; are corrosive, highly inflammable or explosive. The harzardous items waste in household waste includes old batteries, shoe polish, paint tins, old medicines and medicine bottles. The harzardous items in hospital waste include chemicals like mercury, formaldehyde and phenols which are generated during diagnosis, treatment, immunization or research activities. In industrial waste there is metal, chemical, pesticide, dye, refining, and rubber industries, mercury and cyanide – all harmful to health.
2. System & Policies for SWM in Goa
A typical waste management system includes waste generation and storage, segregation, reuse and recycling at the household level followed by primary waste collection and transported to a transfer station or community bin. There's also street sweeping and cleansing of public places and management to the transfer station/community bin followed by secondary collection and transport to the waste disposal site including waste disposal in landfills. In short, collection, storage, transport, and disposal.
A few systems are elaborated below:
Household waste should be separated daily into different bags for (1)wet waste which is biodegradable and (2) dry waste which is non-biodegradable and disposed off separately. There should be a bin for toxic non-biodegradable wastes such as medicines, batteries, dried paint, old bulbs, and dried shoe polish. Wet waste, which consists of leftover foodstuff, vegetable peels, etc. should be put in a compost pit and the compost should be used as manure in the garden. Dry waste consisting of cans, aluminum foils, plastics, metal, glass, and paper should be recycled. Door-to-door collection of waste is another method of segregation but exists mostly in the metros where private organizations operate.
Recycling and reuse:
Recycling involves the collection of used and discarded materials and processing them them into new products. The methodology for safe recycling of waste needs to be standardized inorder to satisfactorily solve our garbage problem. A large number of NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) and private sector enterprises have taken an initiative to segregate and recycle waste.
The steps involved are:
- collection of waste at doorsteps, commercial places, etc.
- collection of waste from community dumps.
- collection/picking waste from final disposal sites.
Recycling leads to less utilization of raw materials, reduces environmental impacts arising from waste treatment and disposal, makes the surroundings cleaner and healthier, saves on landfill space, saves money, reduces the amount of energy required to manufacture new products and finally, recycling can prevent the creation of waste at the source.
Treatment & disposal of municipal waste: As cities are growing in size, the waste generated is increasing and becoming unmanageable. Different waste disposal methods are adopted - open dumps, landfills, sanitary landfills and incineration plants but are not viable in the long run. However, three other methods are gaining popularity – water based separation systems by which 80% of household waste can be recycled; thermal recovery unit (TRU) for businesses and governments because of its high efficiency and economic benefits and finally, the RDF technology which is a valuable source of alternate energy or green fuel.
Composting: Since 35–40% of the municipal solid waste generated in India is organic, it can be recycled by composting, an oldest form of disposal. Composting is a biological process in which micro-organisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, convert degradable organic waste into a humus like substance rich in nutrients and an excellent medium for growing plants. Apart from being clean, cheap, and safe, composting can significantly reduce the amount of disposable garbage. Vermi-composting has become very popular in the last few years in which worms are added to the compost.
To make a compost pit, you have to select a cool, shaded corner of the garden or the school compound and dig a pit, which ideally should be 3 feet deep. This depth is convenient for aerobic composting as the compost has to be turned at regular intervals. Preferably the pit should be lined with granite or brick to prevent nitrite pollution of the subsoil water which is known to be highly toxic. Each time organic matter is added to the pit it should be covered with a layer of dried leaves or a thin layer of soil which allows air to enter the pit thereby preventing bad odour. At the end of 45 days, the rich pure organic matter is ready to be used.
Rag-pickers: Rag-pickers play a special role - though dangerous and unhealthy - in the segregation of waste and are the focal points for the recycling of waste. They sell the material to the whole sellers/retailers who in turn sell it to the industry that uses it as raw material which is plastics, paper, bottles, and cans. The rag-pickers are well coordinated in their method of working as each group takes specific items from the bins. However, more women and children engage in this dangerous endeavour, it is better for each household to segregate their own waste at source instead of allowing the rag-pickers to scavenge in putrid garbage bins/sites.
3. SWM & Financial Feasibility in Goa
Goan municipalities and panchayats have overall responsibility for SWM in their areas. However, most of them are currently unable to fulfill their duties which can result in serious health problems and environmental degradation.The present population of Goa is about 15 lakhs approx. with a moving tourist population of an average 26 lakh/year. This figure generates aThe rag pickers have a special role to play, though dangerous and unhealthy, in the segregation of waste and are the focal points for the recycling of waste. They sell the material to the whole sellers and retailers who in turn sell it to the industry that uses this waste matter as raw material. They primarily collect plastics, paper, bottles, and cans and are well coordinated in their method of working and have a good understanding for operating by area. Each group takes specific items from the bins. However, more women and children engage in this danger endeavour, it is better for each household to segrate their own waste at source instead of allowing the rag-pickers scavenge in garbage bins/sites.round 400-450 tonnes of garbage/day. The present infrastructure cannot handle the workload satisfactorily as increased urbanization results in more waste. According to CPCB, about 94 percent waste is disposed irratically resulting in severe degradation of ground and surface water through leachate as well as degradation of air through uncontrolled burning of waste.
Collection of solid waste: To prohibit littering and to facilitate compliance, municipal authorities must oganize door-to-door, house-to-house or community bin service with special attention on slum, unlawful tenant areas and commercial areas which should be segregated at source. Burning of waste should be prohibited and stray animals should not be permitted at waste storage facilities.
Storage of solid waste: Municipal authorities must make sufficient covered storage facilities available in accordance to the quantities of waste generated so that waste is not exposed to air and stray animals. These facilities should be emptied and cleaned regularly and ensure proper safety and care of the storage facilities.
Transport of waste: The vehicles used for transporting waste should be covered so that the waste is not visible to the public or the environment thus preventing the scattering of waste. The storage facilities should be cleared regularly to prevent overflowing. Finally the vehicles are designed to avoid multiple handling of waste on its way to the final disposal site.
Waste treatment & disposal: The biodegradable waste must be processed by composting, vermi composting, anaerobic digestion or any other appropriate biological process for stabilizing waste. Ensure that mixed waste containing recoverable resources follows the route of recycling. While disposing waste, ensure that the landfills have the required specifications and restrict landfilling to non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste.
Noncompliance of rules: The reasons why rules are not followed is primarily due to lack of public awareness, motivation, education and resistance to change in attitude. There's also lack of cooperation from society (across stratas), lack of infrastructure (personnel and storage facilities) and lack of powers to levy spot fine. Finally, the authorities lack money resources also.
Types of wastes: Hotel and restaurant waste is more organic and either collected by the municipal collection service or they make their own arrangement for collection and disposal of their waste to the municipal treatment/disposal site. Daily collection is necessary to avoid odour. When waste is segregated, the recyclable material has a high value and might be collected by a specialized waste collector. Reuse and treatment options for the restaurant and kitchen waste should be assessed (such as animal feeding, composting).
Market waste contains a high fraction of biodegradable waste and will have value for specialized waste treatment plants such composting sites. Markets require large but easily accessible containers while waste from meat and fish requires closed containers and frequent collection services to avoid odour. Waste from parks and gardens: Waste for parks and garden mainly consists of biodegradable waste and litter which can be treated directly in the park or garden and converted into compost after the litter is collected in litter bins.
Demolition debris: Because such debris is inert, such waste is collected separately and taken to landfill sites to be used as inert cover material or as material to fill low-lying areas. Demolition waste management needs a close cooperation with the construction sector. Skip containers that are lifted on trucks are most suitable for debris collection and transport.
Engineered Landfills: Open-dumping of waste can cause irrepairable damage to the environment by polluting land, water, and air and adversely affecting human health and lowering people’s quality of life. Prohibit open dumps and build engineered landfills. Landfill sites must be fenced or hedged or gated to monitor incoming vehicles and prevent entry of unauthorized persons and stray animals. Landfills must have approach and interal roads for free movement of vehicles and other machinery and facilities for waste inspection and record-keeping and there must be a shelter for equipment and other relevant machinery. Another must is a weigh bridge to assertain the quantity of waste brought in, fire protection equipment, drinking water and lighting arrangements for smooth landfill operations.
Financial feasibility: Municipalities and panchyats in Goa levy taxes, etc. to generate revenue and improve their financial situation vide hoardings, signboards, municipal property rents, license and parking fees, etc. But, by and large, most municipalities suffer major deficit of funds to meet their obligations and fall back on state grants. A firm tax base and a strong tax recovery system is the need of the hour. To improve the financial health of municipal bodies, SWM services must be prioritized and services duly charged for according to prevalent costs while putting a ban on all wasteful expenditure.
Garbage is a major problem in Goa. However, school children of Aldona village are making a conscious environmental effort to find recyclable solutions to it. The Garbage Management Program was introduced by the Lion’s Club Aldona, which uses programs already in place in Canada and Ireland and brings them to Goa.
VV-Correspondent Sulochana Pednekar interviews Colin Mathan, a member of Lion’s Club Aldona, Goa:
“Based on a program that is in Canada and in Ireland where I’m from called the Tidy Towns competition, we took that and applied it to Aldona in a Tidy Wards competition.”
The Lion’s Club managed to get land, which was contributed, from communidadeto use as a base to collect garbage and have it segregated. However, due to the time taken to have the paperwork approved by government officials the club decided in the interim to roll out the program in four schools in Aldona village.
Recycled bins were installed in the schools, one for metal, one for plastic and one for paper. Sister Sharon, headmistress of St. Thomas Girl’s School, Aldona, explains how a points system was constructed for different teams (squads).The children are very excited and motivated by this:
“They have also made their people at home aware of segregation of all these waste material.”
A scrap collector also comes to the school and takes items for recycling for which he pays the school.
Due to the success of the program our Correspondent Sulochana Pednekar campaigns, “I feel this program model should be taken up by the village panchayats in every village, as part of garbage management program, in their respective villages, and implement this in the schools in their localities.”
You can bring similar programs to your villages, towns and cities all around the world. This is especially true of India, where garbage disposal and recycling is still in its primary stages. Help clean up India NOW!
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Sulochana Pednekar is a Community Correspondent, a maternal health researcher and a Ph.D Scholar from Siolim village of Goa. Sulo, as we lovingly call her, has worked hard against poverty, inequality and has gained education by doing odd-jobs and getting scholarships. She continues to work hard even today, to balance community work and studies, “I mostly work on weekends as I travel to the South of Goa to study on weekdays. Hence, it becomes difficult to give the community my time. Depending on the case, I try to have early morning meetings with the community.” Her inspiration is her mother,…