ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION – 14
- WASTE TO ENERGY (WtE) process involves converting of non-recyclable waste items into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes. This type of source of energy is a renewable energy source as non-recyclable waste can be used over and over again to create energy.
- PYROLYSIS – Pyrolysis is defined as a process in which the organic waste is thermally degraded in the absence of oxygen to produce products like char, oil and combustible gases. Pyrolysis transforms low-energy density waste to bio-fuels of high-energy density and other high value chemicals. Pyrolysis is a waste to energy process where waste is converted into valuable products.
- GASIFICATION – Gasification is a process by which the solid and liquid waste materials are converted by the action of heat into gaseous material, ash and tar in the presence of limited supply of oxygen. It is a unique process 4 Environmental Sciences Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Advanced Thermal Treatment Technologies – Gasification by which the carbon in the municipal solid waste is converted into energy without burning them. The gases generated include carbon monoxide and hydrogen termed popularly as ‘syngas’. Other gases include carbon dioxide and methane. Air, pure oxygen and steam are used for gasification. Gasification occurs in a wide range of temperature (i.e) 800 – 1400 ⁰C.
WASTE MANAGEMENT: THE INDIAN OVERVIEW
Waste management rules in India are based on the principles of “Sustainable Development”, “Precaution” And “Polluter Pays“. These principles mandate municipalities and commercial establishments to act in an environmentally accountable and responsible manner—restoring balance, if their actions disrupt it. With rapid urbanisation, the country is facing massive waste management challenge. Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites. Solid Waste Management (SWM) is one among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centres clean. However, almost all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dumpyard within or outside the city haphazardly.
The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source and to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery. Then reduced final residue is then deposited scientifically in sanitary landfills as this waste cannot be recycled.
A report by IIT Kanpur (2006) found the potential of recovering at least 15% or 15,000 MT of waste generated every day in the country. This, the report said, could also provide employment opportunities to about 500,000 rag-pickers. The report added that despite immense potential in big cities in this area, participation from non-profits or community is limited. In some urban centres, people working in the informal sector collect solid waste for each doorstep to get a collection fee and derive additional income from sale of recyclables. The informal recycling industry plays a major role in waste management. It also ensures that less waste reaches landfills. More than three-fourth of solid waste management budget is allotted to collection and transportation, leaving leaves very little for processing or resource recovery and disposal.
Energy-from-waste is a crucial element of SWM because it reduces the volume of waste from disposal also helps in converting the waste into renewable energy and organic manure. Ideally, it falls in the flow chart after segregation, collection, recycling and before getting to the land fill. But many waste to energy plants in India are not operating to their full potential.
Installation of waste-to-compost and bio-methanation plants would reduce the load of landfill sites. The biodegradable component of India’s solid waste is currently estimated at a little over 50%. Bio-methanation is a solution for processing biodegradable waste which is also remains underexploited. It is believed that if we segregate biodegradable waste from the rest, it could reduce the challenges by half. E-waste components contain toxic materials and are non-biodegradable which present both occupational and environmental health threats including toxic smoke from recycling processes and leaching from e-waste in landfill into local water tables.
The concept of common waste treatment facility is being widely promoted and accepted as it uses waste as a resource by either using it as a co-fuel or co-raw material in manufacturing processes. This has led to rise of Public Private Partnership (PPP) models in waste management which has open doors for doing business in waste management. Integrated common hazardous waste management facilities combine secured landfill facility, solidification/stabilisation and incineration to treat hazardous wastes generated by various industrial units. They contribute about 97.8 per cent of total landfill waste and 88 per cent of total incinerable hazardous waste generated in the country, as per an environment ministry report.
The way forward – All the stakeholders can reinvent garbage management in cities so that we can process waste and not landfill it. Coordinated efforts of the households and institutions must segregate their waste at source so that it could be managed as a resource. The Centre aims to do away with landfill sites in 20 major cities. There is no spare land for dumping garbage, the existing ones are in a critical state. Fixing responsibility and coordination between the municipal and private agencies is required to have an integrated system for waste management.
- Institutional measures for mitigation and adaptation to environmental degradation
Global collective consciousness about environmental degradation has begun since 1970s and eventually several legal and policy measures has been devised by several governments which underlines the importance of environmental protection and the stakeholder approach to protect it from further degradation. In India the legislations begun with the Wildlife protection act, 1972, which was followed by water pollution, air pollution act, and environment protection act 1986 etc. in this section we will discuss the various legal provision and polices for environmental protection.
Constitutional rationale for environment protection:
- ARTICLE 48A – protection and improvement of environment and safeguard the forest and wildlife
“the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country”
(this provision was added in the constitution by the 42nd amendment act which was a consequence of the UN Stockholm Conference on the human environment ,1972).
- Article 51a(g) – to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.