MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines the municipal solid waste (MSW) as waste “consisting of everyday items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles and cans, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, consumer electronics, and batteries. These wastes come from homes; institutions such as schools and hospitals; and commercial sources such as restaurants and small businesses.” While some definitions of MSW include municipal wastewater, industrial wastes, combustion ash and construction debris, others do not. However, broadly speaking, MSW can refer to biomedical wastes from hospitals, animal wastes from slaughterhouses, horticulture waste from farms and nurseries, general household waste and other institutional wastes.
Once generated, MSW is usually collected by the local municipal authority and managed according to the category of the waste. Common MSW management methods include recovery, recycling, composting, combustion, with the resultant heat used to produce electricity, and landfill disposal.
However, in Hyderabad, serious lacunae exist in this system. Of the approximately 5000 tonnes of MSW that is generated everyday in the city, 450 to 500 tonnes is plastic waste. However, only 600 tonnes of plastic was recycled in 2017. Moreover, Hyderabad has the highest per capita of waste generation, with the average person in the city producing 5.8 g of waste each day. All of the city’s waste is then transported to the Hyderabad Integrated Solid Waste Management Project landfill located in Jawaharnagar, where it is recycled or composted, converted into refuse-derived fuel to be sent to cement factories, or ultimately dumped in landfills in large amaounts. Landfills present both an environmental and public health risk, endangering thousands of lives. Therefore, this inadequacy in the city’s MSW management system is of critical importance.
Why does Forum's work matter?
The proper management of municipal solid waste is critical to ensuring that the different waste streams generated by growing cities and towns do not have an negative impact on the environment. When toxic household waste is not appropriately recycled, composted or treated, it either undergoes combustion, resulting in the release of greenhouse gases into the air, or is dumped in landfills, resulting in the contamination of soil and water bodies through surface runoff and leaching.