Smart Waste Management

Rise in population and modernization has resulted in an upsurge in the demand for food and essential supplies. Modern methods of packaging for transportation and storage purposes has resulted in large quantities of waste being generated in each household.

Waste management is an essential prerequisite for an ecologically sustainable development. Waste Management involves all the activities required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This procedure includes collection, transportation, disposal and treatment together with monitoring and regulation.

Indian cities alone generate almost 100 million tons of solid waste per year, out of which 40% of the waste remain uncollected.

The composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in India is illustrated below:

waste segregatopm

The major challenges in collection and disposal of wastes are:

  • Most cities do not have the processing facility to dump their waste. Municipalities tend to chaotically dump their waste all over the landfills.
  • Lack of storage and collection facilities.
  • Efficient sorting of waste is a challenge due to mixing of waste in individual households.
  • Pollution due to the dumping of waste on roads and open transportation of waste in trucks.
  • Waste collection and transportation is a major cause of traffic congestion.
  • Resource crunch and improper infrastructure to dispose waste.

Inappropriate disposal of solid waste results in unsanitary conditions which in turn leads to environmental degradation and outbreak of vector-borne diseases.

 Impacts on Health and Environment due to inefficient disposal of waste

  • Organic domestic waste pose a serious threat to the society as they ferment, creating conditions favorable to the survival of microbial pathogens.
  • Direct exposure to hazardous waste affects the human health, children being more vulnerable to these pollutants.
  • The waste from agriculture and industries can cause serious health risks.
  • Co-disposal of industrial hazardous waste with municipal waste can expose people to chemical hazards.
  • Direct dumping of untreated waste in the rivers, lakes and sea affects the food chain due to the extinction of certain species.

The waste handlers are faced with the following occupational hazards

  • Infections resulting from direct contact of waste and infected materials
  • Eye infection and respiratory illness resulting from direct exposure to dust, especially during landfill operations.
  • Intestinal infections that are transmitted by flies feeding on the waste.
  • Handlers of incinerating equipment are at a huge risk of getting chronic respiratory infections resulting from the direct exposure to dust and hazardous compounds.
  • Bone and muscle disorders resulting from the handling of heavy containers.
  • Poisoning and chemical burns resulting from the handling of radioactive waste mixed with the general waste.
  • Burns and other injuries resulting from the occupational accidents at waste disposal sites or from the methane gas explosion at the landfill sites.
  • Toxic wastes often contain carcinogens, and exposure to these wastes causes cancer to appear at increased frequency in exposed individuals. For example, a cluster of the rare blood cancer polycythemia Vera was found around a toxic waste dump site in northeast Pennsylvania.

  Different methods of Waste collection and disposal Systems

  1. Waste collection system: Different forms of waste are collected from different source points and are treated accordingly. The various collection methods are as follows:
  • Household waste – waste collectors come to each individual house to collect the waste.
  • Community Bins- A waste container or recycling bins are placed in the locality. The solid waste is picked up by the designated person from the municipality.
  • Curb-side pickup- users leave their garbage directly outside their homes according to the garbage pickup schedule set with the local authorities.
  • Self-delivered- the waste generators deliver the waste directly to the waste disposal sites or landfills.

2.  Waste disposal systems: methods for the disposal of solid wastes are as follows:

  • Dumping the waste deep into the Ocean- Initially the communities around the World used to dump their waste into the oceans including the chemical and industrial waste, radioactive waste, trash etc. which slowly started affecting the marine life.
  • Landfill site is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common method of waste disposal.
  • Incineration – a waste treatment process that involves the destruction of waste materials by burning in a controlled environment.
  • Composting is a natures process of recycling decomposed organic matter.
  • Recycling materials like paper, rags, glass, heavy metals, and certain types of plastics for reuse.
  • Open burning methods which is not an ideal method for the disposal of waste, as it causes environmental pollution.
  • Biological Digestion  which involves converting biodegradable waste to compost

water pollution image 6

Smart Technology for curbing waste:

Globally the total volume of waste generated is expected to increase by more than 50% over the next decade. The implementation of innovative and sustainable technologies will result in integrated waste management solutions that move beyond the traditional use of waste management technologies. Technology can provide visibility on city sanitation and waste management, route planning for garbage collection, resource optimization etc. Some of the innovative technologies are as follows:

  • Waste collection system based on location intelligence: Waste collection solution by providing intelligence to trash cans by using an IoT prototype entrenched with sensors, which can read, collect and transmit the trash volume data over the internet.
  • Automated waste collection system: is a long term solution for waste collection and can take care of the traditional methods such as door to door collection, community bin collection, and vehicle transportation. In this method, the waste is sucked through underground pipes with minimal human intervention.
  • Solar powered Trash compactor bin: This eco-friendly waste management solution helps keep public spaces clean and green and can reduce trash collections by up to 80%. By compressing its content, the unit gains capacity so that it doesn’t have to be emptied often, which results in fewer collections. This is cost effective and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions. This form of bins are ideal for cities, community centers, parks, and other traffic areas.
  • Smart garbage solutions monitor waste collection and disposal electronically: Waste collection vehicles are fitted with GPS tracking to monitor its location. The bins are provided with intelligent sensors to display its capacity. If the bin is almost full it gives an alert notification, which helps the garbage collection vehicle to collect the waste immediately.
  • Smart kitchen dustbins: At a micro-level this helps in transforming the kitchen waste to fertile soil.
  • Sensor based sorting: Sorting waste material with sensor technology helps in smart sorting. This technology can help recognize materials based on their visible spectrum, their specific properties, atomic density etc.

Smart garbage image

Few years ago, a town in Kerala Alappuzha also known as the “Venice of the East” had a major crisis of disposing their waste. The unsanitary conditions led to a steep rise of Dengue and Chikungunya cases in the area. As a part of its “Clean Home Clean City Programs”, the municipality has set up a bio-gas plant and pipe compost units in households and an aerobic composting unit in public places. The authorities have also set up CCTV surveillance cameras across the city, and have linked them to the police control room to monitor those who litter in public areas.

New innovative technologies and methodologies need to be implemented that have the potential to improve the overall sustainability and cleanliness of these cities.

Smart waste management is a very crucial part in building a smart city for reducing the urban waste and pollution and building a cleaner, greener and safe environment for living.


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