SEGREGATION OF DOMESTIC HAZARDOUS WASTE

  • Segregation of domestic hazardous waste remains a distant dream for most Indian cities in absence of robust framework and infrastructure.
  • Indore is the only city in the country that safely handles its domestic hazardous waste.

Important points:

  • Domestic Hazardous Waste is any chemical or product that can cause serious illness or pose an environmental or health threat if improperly stored, transported or disposed of.
  • When hazardous waste is disposed of in the trash, down the drain, or on the ground, our water and soils can be contaminated or trash collectors can be harmed.
  • Most products labeled dangerous, flammable, poison, combustible and corrosive are considered hazardous waste.
  • Examples: Auto batteries, Fertilizers, Batteries (non-alkaline), Paint.

Domestic Hazardous Waste in India:

  • In 2020, a significant level of toxic heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants like pesticides have been found by the researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIT Bombay.
  • They analysed fine particles from eight dump sites across the country.

Governing Household Waste:

  1. Household waste is governed by the rules outlined in the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.
  2. These rules divide household waste into dry and wet waste.
  3. Wet waste is categorised as any waste that decomposes or degrades by itself.
  4. All other waste falls into dry waste according to the rules.

Issues:

  • The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 define it as “discarded paint drums, pesticide cans, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, tube lights, expired medicines, broken mercury thermometers, used batteries, used needles and syringes and contaminated gauge, etc generated at household levels”.
  • The definition is not exhaustive, and so leaves a lot to the imagination of individual households and local government bodies such as Panchayats and municipalities.
  • For example, the rules leave out cigarette butts even though they contain traces of heavy metals and other chemicals.

Way Forward

  • Given the poor performance, the country may consider including hazardous waste under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), manufacturers have the responsibility of collecting and channeling their post-consumer products.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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