Earth5R’s Approach :The Urgent Need For Effective Waste Management

India’s production of garbage Currently, India makes up around 18 percent of the worldwide population and generates about 12 percent of the world’s municipal solid waste. 

The generation of waste in India is anticipated to increase significantly over the next few decades as a result of the country’s expanding population. This consequently makes managing it difficult. 

Segregation, collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of garbage are all included in waste management. 

One of the key factors contributing to environmental contamination is improper waste management. Based on its origin and composition, waste is usually classified as municipal, industrial, or hazardous waste.

To ensure that the various types of trash are handled and disposed of safely, there are a number of regulations that must be adhered to.

Despite the fact that India has door-to-door waste pickup in many places, the country’s inadequate sorting and disposal facilities render it ineffective. As part of the government’s effort to digitise the economy, the MoEFCC introduced the Integrated Waste Management System and an end-to-end app in 2016. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change in India is in charge of controlling and enforcing waste regulations.

The ministry’s primary focus is pollution prevention and control, and over the years, it has issued numerous regulations to guarantee trash is handled and disposed of properly and that the environment is kept clean. The MoEFCC’s rules are properly managed thanks to the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Board.

Since biomedical waste is typically not contagious, it is handled like MSW. Contrarily, infectious and dangerous biological waste needs to be handled in special facilities and shouldn’t be combined with ordinary waste.

Waste management is a critical global challenge as we grapple with the increasing volume of waste generated by human activities. 

The way waste is handled and disposed of has significant environmental implications, particularly in terms of the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the pollution of surrounding air, soil, and water. 

In this article, we will explore the process of waste disposal in landfills and shed light on the environmental consequences associated with it.

Why Landfill ?

Landfills burn naturally. Methane comes from landfills. Municipal solid waste first decomposes aerobically in a landfill, producing minimal methane. 

Within a year, anaerobic conditions develop and methane-producing bacteria start decomposing trash. Methane self-ignites around 60-70 degrees Celsius, which landfills can reach in summer. 

The place is full of combustible garbage like plastic. Thus, even modest amounts of methane can cause an inferno. 

Ghazipur  landfill – Garbage Mountain of India

The contribution of cities to Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is widely known, and Ghazipur in India is home to one of the biggest landfills in the world. 

The landfills should ideally adhere to strict restrictions to prevent contamination of the soil, land, and air near them. Ghazipur, Delhi’s biggest landfill, caught fire March 28, 2022. 

This fire is harder to put out than earlier ones. Delhi’s air quality has plummeted after another deadly winter Delhi’s air quality improved to “moderate” in March. 

Since March 28, it has returned to “poor” and “very poor” AQI. The landfill fire is causing this unseasonal poisonous air. The city’s major pollutants on March 30 and 31 were NO2 and PM2.5. 

Delhi’s main pollutant in spring is PM10, a non-combustion source. NO2 from combustion sources rarely leads Delhi’s pollution. Conditions around the landfill are worse. 

Seven real-time monitoring stations are nearby. These are in Anand Vihar, Dilshad Garden, Patparganj, Indirapuram, Vasundhara, and Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida). These monitoring stations saw 20-60% PM2.5 increases March 28.Anand Vihar, Indirapuram, and Vasundhara, all north and north-west of the fire, had “very poor” AQI levels. 

Since the fire, the eight-hour running average of harmful carbon monoxide has exceeded the threshold by two-three times. Wasted efforts Health risks persist at the Ghazipur landfill. Four fires occurred in 2021. 

In 2017, a huge section of it broke off and crashed onto the road, killing two people. Neutralising the threat has been ongoing for years. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) started adopting trommel machine-cum-ballistic separators in October 2019. 

At the December 2020 Delhi Assembly environment meeting on the Ghazipur landfill, East Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gautam Gambhir reported that the landfill processed 3,000 metric tonnes of waste daily. He promised to process 50% of the trash by 2023 and 100% by 2024

East Delhi Muncipal Corporation had stopped the landfill from rising, but the fire suggests that things had gone wrong. We created the landfill issue. Pradeep Kr Khandelwal, EDMC’s recently retired chief engineer, blamed political, administrative, and technical individuals for the landfill fires. 

The landfill covered and compacted every rubbish. Khandelwal said the covering was manufactured from C&D garbage. However, C&D recycling plants prevent this trash from entering landfills. Thus, landfills lack loose soil to cover garbage.

 “Ghazipur’s waste inflow is continuous, so there isn’t enough time to cover it,” he added. Purifying the air Indian landfills manage trash best. Delhi’s air pollution comes from landfill fires, especially in summer. 2016 solid waste management rules require waste segregation at the source and landfill disposal of only non-recyclable garbage. 

Since there is no sorting or recycling system, all waste is dumped to landfills. This misconduct has made our dumps tinderboxes. 

Waste Dumping and GHG Emissions: 

When waste is dumped in landfills, it undergoes decomposition due to the presence of moisture and microorganisms. 

This decomposition process produces a mixture of gases known as landfill gases (LFGs), which include methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), and other trace gases. Methane, in particular, is a potent GHG with a higher warming potential than carbon dioxide. 

GHG Data

India is considered to be one of the world’s largest methane emitters from landfills,” says Pooja Ghosh from the Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Methane alone constitutes approximately 29 per cent of the total GHG emissions in India as opposed to the global average of 18 per cent. “According to one estimate, India’s total methane emissions are in the range of 669 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e)”, says Shyamala Mani an independent researcher who has spent decades studying solid waste management in India pointing out that landfills are currently the third largest human-generated source of methane.

The Role of Organic Waste: Organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, plays a significant role in the generation of GHGs in landfills. As organic waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions), methane is produced. Methane emissions from landfills contribute to global GHG emissions and climate change. 

Environmental Pollution: Apart from GHG emissions, waste dumping in landfills can also result in pollution of the surrounding environment. The release of gases and leachate from landfills can contaminate the air, soil, and water, posing risks to human health and ecosystems. 

Air Pollution: Landfill gases contain various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can contribute to air pollution. These pollutants can cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, and other adverse health effects when released into the atmosphere. Soil 

Contamination: Leachate, a liquid formed as waste decomposes, contains harmful substances that can percolate through the soil, potentially contaminating groundwater and nearby water bodies. This contamination can have detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems and compromise the availability of safe drinking water.

Water Pollution: Improper landfill management can lead to the release of leachate into nearby water sources, contaminating rivers, lakes, and groundwater. This pollution can harm aquatic life, disrupt ecosystems, and pose risks to human health when contaminated water is consumed or used for irrigation. 

Recycling and waste recovery in India

Recovery from trash is a vital component of waste management since it lowers the volume of waste and keeps landfills from being overburdened. 

The unregulated recycling sector contributes significantly to waste management and offers lower-class individuals work opportunities. Encourage recovery while adhering to the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle, while plastic and electronic trash are on the rise. In several areas of the nation, community involvement has increased for effective trash management. 

In recent years, waste has been reduced at the source, and citizens are becoming more ecologically sensitive thanks to rising public participation and understanding. 

The government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, a nationwide effort to clean up the streets, roads, and infrastructure in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Starting in 2014, the mission was put into effect for a five-year period. 

This ensured that citizens would take the initiative to contribute to the waste management solution. However, it was discovered during an annual Swachh Bharat poll that the majority of citizens believed that the municipalities lacked dedication.

Waste Hotspots Across Indian Cities: A Closer Look at Earth5R’s Survey Findings.

In a recent waste survey conducted by Earth5R volunteers across 33 cities in India, several waste hotspots were identified. The survey revealed that there is a major waste hotspot found at an average distance of every 1.3 kilometers along the streets. 

The volunteers found an average of 2 bins per kilometer for wet and dry solid waste. However, it was alarming to note that waste bins for hazardous waste were not found at the majority of the survey sites, despite the government mandate under the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rule of 2016 requiring three bins for wet, dry, and hazardous waste in each area, including sanitary waste.

The survey also shed light on the types of waste found in these hotspots. The survey identified prevalent waste types, including multilayer packaging (24.9%), tetra packs (5.1%), synthetic fibers (7.9%), glass waste (12.8%), and metal waste (13.4%), HDPE (4.6%), LDPE (1.8%), PET bottles (10.4%),medical waste (1.6%), organic waste (3.9%) and Glass ( 12.8%).

These findings highlight the urgent need for effective waste management strategies and proper infrastructure for waste segregation and disposal.

It is crucial for authorities and communities to work together to ensure the availability of adequate waste bins, including separate bins for hazardous waste, in all areas.

Furthermore, initiatives like the Earth5R waste survey play a vital role in raising awareness about waste management issues and promoting sustainable practices.

One of the Major Sources of Waste –

Fast fashion 

Fast fashion is the rapid manufacture and consumption of low-quality, trendy apparel. 

Fast fashion is affordable and accessible, yet it harms the environment and creates trash.Fast fashion wastes water, energy, and materials. High water, chemical, and carbon emissions during production cause water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental deterioration. Fast fashion clothing’s short lifespans and low-quality materials create a lot of textile waste. Upcycling reduces rapid fashion waste. Upcycling turns waste into high-quality products. Upcycling decreases waste by creatively reusing or changing garments. 

Fashion upcycling includes:

Repurposing: Cutting, stitching, or mixing old clothes creates new goods. A dress can become a skirt, or jeans can become shorts.

Embellishment: Patches, embroidery, and appliques can give garments a new look and extend their lives, saving waste.

Textile recycling: Discarded clothing can be shredded and turned into yarns or materials for new textiles or goods.

Accessories and Home Decor: Unused clothing can be made into purses, scarves, cushions, or comforters.Upcycling saves waste and fosters creativity, uniqueness, and sustainable fashion. Valuing existing resources and limiting product demand promote responsible consumerism. Upcycling empowers people to join the circular economy and help the environment.Upcycling and supporting sustainable fashion firms and projects can help reduce rapid fashion waste and create a circular fashion economy.

Circular economy

Circular economy maximises material value and minimises waste. It aims to build a closed-loop system where resources are used efficiently, goods are durable and recyclable, and waste is recycled, reused, and repurposed into useful resources. 

A circular economy replaces “take-make-dispose” with a regenerative mechanism. Waste is considered a resource that can be recovered and reused. Several circular economy programmes can turn trash into wealth: 

Recycling: Plastics, metals, paper, and glass can be separated and processed into new goods or raw materials. Recycling saves energy, materials, and resources. Circular economy programmes encourage product reuse and repair. This prolongs product life, reduces waste, and promotes sustainable consumption. 

Upcycling and Repurposing: Upcycling turns waste into valuable items. Upcycling reduces waste and encourages product innovation by adding value to wasted materials. 

Resource Recovery: Advanced technologies recover valuable resources from waste streams. Anaerobic digestion can turn organic waste into compost or biofuel, and technological trash into precious metals. 

Collaborative Consumption: Sharing platforms and peer-to-peer networks enable the sharing of commodities, resources, and services, minimising individual ownership and maximising resource efficiency. 

Circular economy programmes reduce waste, save energy, and create new economic opportunities. Businesses and communities can reduce waste and create valuable resources by implementing circular practices. 

How does Earth5R help?

Earth5R, a leading environmental organization, is making a significant impact on waste management and environmental conservation through its community clean-up initiatives. 

With a focus on engaging communities, Earth5R has successfully organized various clean-up drives in Mumbai, empowering individuals to actively participate in creating cleaner and healthier surroundings. Let’s explore some of the impactful clean-up events organized by Earth5R.

Lufthansa-Earth5R Mumbai Beach Cleanup:
Earth5R staged a Mumbai beach cleanup with Lufthansa. Volunteers cleaned beaches of trash and plastic. It promoted clean beaches and marine environments. Read more about the same

Empowering Change: Powai Lake Cleanup Event

Earth5R successfully cleaned up Mumbai’s Powai Lake, emphasizing the need to protect this crucial waterbody. Participants gathered and separated trash, improving the environment. The event encouraged sustainability and personal responsibility. Read more about the same here

Earth5R and IIT Bombay cleaned up the campus. Students and volunteers collected and disposed of trash. The event stressed trash management in schools and encouraged students to alter their neighborhoods. Read more about it :

Earth5R and citizens  held an environmental awareness and beach clean-up programme at Juhu Beach, Mumbai. Participants cleaned the beach and raised awareness about marine life and plastic waste. The event promoted proper garbage disposal and coastal environmental protection.

Thane Cleanup: Project I’m Earth:
Earth5R’s Project I’m Earth cleaned up Thane, India, to solve waste management issues. Volunteers cleaned streets, parks, and public spaces to promote sustainability and community cleanliness.

Waste cleanup events using the Earth5R App.

The Earth5R App is an innovative tool designed to facilitate efficient waste segregation and track the environmental impact of waste management efforts. With its user-friendly interface and essential tools, the app enables users to categorize waste into various types, including multilayer packaging, tetra pack, synthetic fibers, LDPE, PET, HDPE, plastic, glass, organic waste, metals, medical waste, electronic waste, and more. Let’s explore how the Earth5R App helps in effective waste segregation and monitoring of environmental impact.

User-Friendly Interface:

The Earth5R App offers a user-friendly interface that simplifies the waste segregation process. Users can easily navigate through different waste categories and select the appropriate classification for each type of waste. The intuitive design ensures a seamless experience for users of all backgrounds and levels of expertise.

Waste Categorization:

With a wide range of waste categories available, the Earth5R App enables accurate segregation of waste materials. Users can select the specific category that corresponds to the type of waste they are dealing with, ensuring proper handling and disposal methods.

Real-Time Data and Reporting:

One of the key features of the Earth5R App is its ability to provide real-time data on waste segregation. Users can track their progress and monitor the amount and types of waste they have segregated. The app generates reports and statistics, offering insights into the environmental impact of waste management efforts.

Environmental Impact Tracking:

The Earth5R App goes beyond waste segregation by allowing users to track their environmental impact. After the collection and submission of waste data through the app, users receive a carbon offset measurement. This measurement represents the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions achieved through proper waste management practices.

Encouraging Sustainable Waste Management:

By providing real-time data and carbon offset measurements, the Earth5R App encourages users to adopt sustainable waste management practices. The app serves as a tool for individuals and communities to actively contribute to environmental conservation by making informed decisions about waste segregation and disposal.

Circular Economy

Earth5R has been an active member of the international community by starting projects related to the circular economy. 

The “Waste into Wealth” project is one example of an effort to recycle and upcycle trash into a useful resource. 

This concept has already been implemented in a number of Indian cities, including Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore, to name just a few of those places. Strategies Earth5R is working on hard projects that have to do with the circular economy. 

To get started, you need to make a list of all the different kinds of trash that can be found in a certain area and know what each type is made of. After this step, a waste segregation system needs to be planned and put into action. 

This includes giving people access to the right resources and spreading information about how to separate waste. After the trash has been sorted, it needs to be dealt with right away. This goal could be reached through composting, recycling, or upcycling. 

Earth5R has made a number of waste processing units. Some of these are composting units, paper recycling units, and plastic upcycling units. In the end, the trash that is processed is turned into different things that can be used. Earth5R has made a number of things out of trash, like bags that are good for the environment, paper products, and things to decorate with. The money made from selling these things goes towards building up the infrastructure of the community’s waste management programme and other similar projects. 

Outcomes Earth5R’s efforts to promote a circular economy have been very good for both the environment and communities. By using technology that makes sorting and processing waste easier, they have been able to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and incinerators. 

As greenhouse gas emissions have gone down, the quality of the air we breathe has also gotten better. Earth5R’s waste processing facilities have been good for the local economy because they have given people new jobs. 

Because of this, economic and social conditions in the area have gotten better, as shown by the fact that incomes have gone up and the number of people living in poverty has gone down. More and more people want to buy products that are good for the environment, and the market has shown a lot of interest in things that are made from trash. 

Because of this, Earth5R has come up with a way to run its business that can be kept going forever. This is done by putting the money made from selling products back into expanding the company’s waste management infrastructure and doing other things to help the community. 

Earth5R’s work on the circular economy has shown both how waste can be used as a resource and why a system based on a circular economy is better. By setting up systems for sorting and processing waste, they have been able to improve the air quality, create jobs, get more money for projects that help communities grow in a sustainable way, and reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills and is burned in incinerators. 

Earth5R is working on projects related to the circular economy. These projects give communities and groups that are trying to find long-term solutions to environmental and social problems a model to follow. 

Earth5R is India’s leading environmental organization, inspiring communities to take on ground action using mobile technology. 

By addressing these challenges and actively engaging in waste management efforts, we can work towards creating cleaner and healthier environments for our communities. It is essential to prioritize waste reduction, recycling, and proper disposal to minimize the impact of waste on our surroundings and protect the environment for future generations.