Waste management refers to the process of managing waste from its inception to the final disposal. Waste management includes the process of discarding, processing, transporting, treating, maintaining, recycling and monitoring the rules and regulatory framework of waste management mechanisms, technologies and waste-related laws. The primary objective of waste management is to reduce the amount of waste material in the environment which in turn further prevents potential environmental and health hazards which can pose threat to public health as well as wildlife. This process involves managing and disposing of both liquid and solid waste. Waste management mechanisms and proper strategies are very important in today’s day-to-day life. As the population of India is growing, there has been an increase in the generation of both solid and liquid waste. The accumulation of such waste in turn ends up affecting many lives and it especially affects the people who live in rural and slum areas that are more prone to diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, tetanus, whooping cough and other Illness caused by poor waste management.
WASTE MANAGEMENT LAWS IN INDIA
Waste management in India is governed by various subordinate regulations and the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Government of India (MoEF) with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) of different states. There are several regulations regarding the compliance with issues related to waste management in India. The National Green Tribunal was created in 2010 for giving relief for damages caused to persons and property and for the disposal of cases.
Environment Protection Act 1986 : This act was enforced for saving and improving the environmental conditions. The rules and regulations under this act makes it compulsory for corporate and industrial units to ensure their functioning and monitor and protect the process of dealing with waste generation. Section 7 of the environment protection act asserts a prohibition on mistreating the environment by declaring that “No person shall discharge or emit any environmental pollutant in excess of the prescribed standard while carrying out any operation, industry or process”
Polluter Pays Principle: This principle states that the one who generates pollution should be the one to be held liable and also should bear the cost of damage or the cost to prevent damage of the environment or human lives and reinstate the environment to its natural form.
The Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011: The rules provide regulations for manufacturing, utilising and recycling plastic bags. Plastic waste could be any plastic product that have been disposed off after using this may include carry bag, plastic bottles ,straws etc . The Rule 9 of this act makes it mandatory for every plastic bag manufacturer and recycler to get registered in SPCB with a validity of 3 years. Rule 10 states that plastic bags cannot be provided for free by any retailer.
Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998 : The purpose of these rules is to manage and provide a comprehensive framework for the process of disposal of bio medical waste. Biomedical waste refers to any waste generated during the treatment or diagnosis of humans or animals. It may also include waste generated during any laboratory research such as blood banks, dispensaries, veterinary clinics, nursing homes etc. Rule 8 makes it mandatory for every occupier of an establishment or organization which deals with biomedical waste in any manner to make get an authorisation which is of 3 years from SPCB. After the completion of 3 years, the authorisation needs to get renewed.
The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules 2001 : These rules stated to have a framework for the management and disposal of used lead acid batteries and its components. Rule 10 mandate every customer to deposit used batteries back to the manufacturer. The batteries are required to be imported only after acquiring a registration with the Reserve bank of India and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change.
ELECTRONIC WASTE MANAGEMENT
Electronic waste or e-waste is referred to the electronic products that are discarded or have become unusable. This may include computers, laptops, copiers, mobile, fax machine or any other electronic devices. E- Waste is specifically considered harmful as it contains toxic chemicals from the metal inside them. The disposal of e-waste is considered a complex task. It is posing to be a global issue affecting the environment and human health. India is also struggling with the management of e-waste as the quantity of e-waste is gradually increasing. E-waste contains dangerous contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium etc. These contaminants pose a critical risk to land, water and human lives and it also ends up affecting wildlife as well.
The E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 : The primary purpose of these rules is to create an effective e-waste management system by disposing and recycling e-waste in a environment friendly manner. These rules apply to the manufacturer and consumer. There is a presence of bulk customers as well. The definition of e-waste is defined under rule 3(k) as “any electronic or electrical equipment that has been discarded or rejected after use also products discarded during the manufacturing process also will be considered under this category.” Under rule 4 the producer of electronic and electrical products has to mandatorily get permission from the State Pollution Control Board.
The challenges and battles regarding waste management are immense but so are the opportunities. India needs sustainable growth to be a leading economy. This sustainable growth can be obtained by prioritizing waste management. The population of India is growing exponentially which leads to the exhaustion of natural resources. Waste generated could be used as a potential alternative resource using technology and effective recycling mechanism. A successful waste management strategy should include fundamentals such as estimating the quantity and quality of waste produced in India and also predicting future waste generations as well.
Another important aspect of effective waste management is to have a proper functioning segregation of waste system in place and ensure that waste is recycled and disposed of properly. Sanitary landfills can be used as an effective mode for the disposal of inorganic or unused municipal solid waste which cannot be recycled. Installing bio methanol plants could lower the burden of landfill sites. Also practicing composting would be beneficial. Awareness about waste management should be encouraged in every community and locality. Active involvement of communities is the key to effective waste management. Educating and encouraging every citizen of recycling would be a key step in the process of waste management and achieve the ultimate aim of protecting the environment and public health.
Author(s) Name: Aarya Shrivastava (Hidaytullah National Law University)