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Waste Management Regulations and Laws in India

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Waste Management Regulations and Laws in India

1. What is waste?

Waste can be regarded as a human concept as there appears to be no such thing as waste in nature. The waste products created by natural processes or organisms quickly become the raw products used by other processes and organisms. Recycling is predominant, therefore production and decomposition are even-handed and nutrient cycles continuously support the next cycles of production. This is the so-called circle of life and is a scheme clearly related to ensuring constancy and sustainability in natural systems. On the other hand there are man-made systems which highlight the financial value of materials and energy, and where production and consumption are the central economic activities. Such systems are likely to be exceedingly harsh on the environment as they need gigantic utilization of natural capital and energy, return the end product to the environment in a form that harms the environment and needs more natural capital to be consumed in order to feed the system. Where resources and space are limited this at the end of the day is not sustainable.

Waste consists of all substances that people no longer have any use for, which they either plan to get rid of or have already discarded. Additionally, wastes are such items which people are required to discard. All our daily activities can give rise to a large variety of different wastes arising from different sources.

Waste according to the Basel convention: Wastes are substances or objects which are disposed or are intended to be disposed or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national laws.

The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD): Wastes are materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose. Wastes may be generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, and other human activities. Residuals recycled or reused at the place of generation are excluded.

A natural part of the life cycle, waste occurs when any organism returns substances to the environment. Living things take in raw materials and excrete wastes that are recycled by other living organ¬isms. However, humans produce an additional flow of material residues that would overload the capacity of natural recy¬cling processes, so these wastes must be managed in order to reduce their effect on our aesthetics, health, or the environment. Solid and fluid, hazardous and non-toxic wastes are generated in our households, offices, schools, hospi¬tals, and industries. No society is immune from day-to-day issues associated with waste disposal. How waste is handled often depends on its source and characteristics, as well as any local, state, and federal regulations that govern its management. Practices generally differ for residences and industries, in urban and rural areas, and for developed and developing countries.

The types of waste which occur are-

Domestic/Residential Waste

This category of waste comprises of the solid wastes that originate from single and multi-family household units. These wastes are generated as a consequence of household activities such as cooking, cleaning, repairs, gardening, redecoration, empty containers, packaging, clothing, old books, newspaper, old furnishings etc., The Households also discard bulky wastes such as furniture and large appliances which cannot be repaired and re-used.

Municipal Waste

Municipal waste includes wastes resulting from municipal activities and services such as street waste, dead animals, market waste and abandoned vehicles. However, the term is commonly applied in a wider sense to incorporate domestic wastes, institutional wastes and commercial wastes.

Commercial Waste

Included in this category are solid wastes that originate in offices, wholesale and retail stores, restaurants, hotels, markets, warehouses and other commercial establishments. Some of these wastes are further classified as garbage and others as rubbish. Waste generated at business premises, shops, offices, markets, departmental stores (paper, packing material, spoiled, discarded goods) can be classified as organic, inorganic, chemically reactive and hazardous waste.

Institutional Waste

The Institutional wastes are those arising from institutions such as schools, universities, hospitals, research institutes etc. It includes wastes, which are classified as garbage and rubbish, as well as wastes that are considered to be hazardous to public health and to the environment.


The Garbage is the term applied to animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, storage, sale, preparation, cooking and serving of food. Such wastes contain organic matter, which produces strong odours and therefore attracts rats, flies and other vermin. It requires immediate attention in its storage, handling and disposal.


Rubbish is a general term applied to solid wastes originating in households, commercial establishments and institutions, excluding garbage and ashes.


Ashes are the residues from the burning of wood, coal, charcoal, coke and other combustible materials, for cooking and heating in houses, institutions and small industrial establishments. When produced in large quantities at power generating plants and factories these wastes are classified as industrial wastes. Ashes consist of a fine powdery residue, cinders and clinker often mixed with small pieces of metal and glass.

Bulky Waste

This category includes all bulky household wastes, which cannot be accommodated in the normal storage containers of households. For this reason they require special collection. In developed countries bulky wastes include large household appliances such as cookers, refrigerators and washing machines as well as furniture, crates, vehicle parts, tyres, wood, trees and branches. Metallic bulky wastes are sold as scrap metal but some portion is disposed of at sanitary landfills.

Street Waste

This term applies to wastes that are collected from streets, walkways, parks and vacant lots. In the more affluent countries manual street sweeping has virtually disappeared but it still



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