Budget 2024 Expectations: India is facing a serious issue as it struggles to find a solution to improper waste management. The country generates a whopping 62 million tons of waste annually. Only 70% of it is collected, and a mere 12 million tons are treated. Unfortunately, 31 million tons still end up in landfills. The projections indicate that by 2030, municipal solid waste is expected to increase to a staggering 165 million tons. The numbers indeed signal a big challenge ahead.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in India oversees waste management, and relevant laws are framed under the Environment Protection Act of 1986.
One of the primary reasons for the rapid increase in solid waste production is the swift urbanization. As more and more people move from rural to urban areas, India’s cities are becoming overwhelmed, resulting in a continuous rise in population and waste production.
Waste management is a problem because there is a fundamental lack of proper infrastructure for waste collection in cities. Although many states mandate waste segregation, only 30% of the waste is effectively sorted, meaning that instead of proper plastic recycling, much of it ends up in landfills.
Nevertheless, solutions to the waste management problem are seemingly hidden in plain sight. At the beginning of this year, a two-day waste management workshop presented in a white paper suggested that India could generate up to 65 gigawatts of electricity from waste annually. This figure could potentially increase to 165 gigawatts by 2030 and a whopping 436 gigawatts by 2050.
Also read: Budget 2024: How the Budget is Prepared?
While local bodies and municipal offices oversee waste collection, advocating for a centralized waste management model, where local communities take responsibility for waste disposal and promote recycling, is crucial.
While technology can aid, especially with RFID-enabled monitoring and GPS tracking for efficient waste management, strict enforcement of waste management regulations will ensure serious penalties for non-compliance.
Educating people through an aggressive public awareness program about waste segregation, composting, and recycling, facilitated by community and self-help groups, can also bring about a significant change.
India stands at a crossroads in its battle against the waste crisis. It’s time for a collective effort, combining technological advancements, stringent regulations, and public awareness, to ensure a cleaner and sustainable future for the nation.
Radhika Kalia, Managing Director, RLG Systems India Private Limited, spoke about her expectations from the interim budget 2024 with respect to the e-waste management sector,
“With rapid expansion of technology, and an equally fast rate of obsolescence resulting in huge volumes of e-waste, it is imperative that more attention is paid to proper e-waste management. while the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, which came into effect on April 1, 2023, introduced an improved EPR regime for e-waste recycling, I would expect the interim budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 to offer greater incentives for businesses to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and to inspire the informal sector to structure and formalize their operations.
Allocation of funds to facilitate advanced e-waste management solutions, such as waste-to-energy plants, could help curb the volume of e-waste ending up in landfills. I hope the budget does focus on improving e-waste management infrastructure, including collection, transportation, and recycling facilities, developing efficient supply chains for e-waste management to help reduce recycling costs and upgrading the quality of recycled materials, and promoting a circular economy to ensure an effective and comprehensive e-waste management system across the country.
Ideally, the focus should go beyond e-waste alone to include different types of waste, such as plastic, tyre, battery, and textile. I would like to see a more comprehensive approach to waste management in the interim budget – a promise to promote a sustainable environment. Investments in these areas would enhance our capability to manage the different types of waste more effectively and efficiently, and foster a circular economy model.”