What happens to the waste you throw away
Awareness

What happens after Waste Collection?

You sorted your waste at source – plastic waste, e-waste, solid waste, kitchen waste, and so on. You disposed of the waste in their respective bins. The garbage truck comes for waste collection, picks them up, and goes off. Now it’s up to the Local Municipality or Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to take over. What happens after the waste is collected?

How to sort your waste Click here

Types of Plastics to lookout for before you recycle Click Here

What happens after waste collection?

The waste collection system in India is coined as Municipal Solid Waste – under which there are many categories of waste but predominantly comprise of household waste. For the purpose and scope of the blog site, this content is limited to the fate of dry waste or recyclable waste being collected and recycled.

India generates 62 million tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste

Procedia Environmental Science
Flow of waste in the ecosystem
Flow of waste in the Ecosystem

1. Waste picked up by the local municipality

Based on the location you stay, the waste collection system varies. For waste collection, local municipalities use trucks, tricycles, or small vans. Earlier the trucks did not have any separate bins for sorted waste.

One of the key objectives of Swacch Bharat Mission is to ensure door-to-door garbage collection and disposal of municipal solid waste – 83,000 wards by 2019.

Since the implementation of Swacch Bharat, the municipalities have introduced Wet Waste and Dry Waste collection systems. The image attached below is an example of the new-age infrastructure being used for door-to-door collection of waste.

Waste Collection truck in Hyderabad
Waste Collection truck in Hyderabad with separate bins for Wet and Dry Waste

2. Transfer Point

Waste sorting is yet a rare phenomenon in India, with many yet being unaware of the pros and cons of waste sorting/segregation. Furthermore, above mentioned separate waste collection vehicle has not been implemented across the entire country, as a result, it affects the next stage of the process.

The collected waste reaches the Transfer Point, where manual labour separates the Dry waste and Food waste. This is a labor-intensive process due to the low infrastructure at these facilities. The food waste flow can be seen in the attached flow chart of waste in the system.

3. DRCC/MRF

Dry Resource Collection Centre (DRCC) or Material Recovery Facility (MRF), where waste collectors rummage through the waste and collect recyclables. Sorting is based on the grade, type, colour, and value in the resale market.

Popular recyclables include PET (1) and HDPE (2) plastic which are our everyday use items. PETs are the coca-cola or juice bottles whereas HDPE is harder plastic such as shampoo bottles or medicine bottles etc. These types of plastic have high demand in the recycling industry.

Did you know? The other types of plastics are recyclable as well. Recykal Point – an on-field operating facility of Recykal accepts all types of plastic and gives the seller a fair price for its collection. Want to know more? Get in touch with us!

7 Types of Plastic to look out for before you Recycle
7 Types of Recyclable Plastic

4. Recycler

Finally, Recycler further processes the recyclables. Based on the type of plastic, and its scale of recyclability the waste is sent accordingly. What happens after that? Find out in our next blog on “Recycling and what happens next?”.

The non-recyclables are used by Energy Recovery Facilities such as Cement Kilns.

1 kg of plastic can yield 750 ml of automotive gasoline – CSIR

With a rapid rise in the rate of waste generation in India, there is an urgent need to create a robust and efficient waste disposal system.

It should be noted that in the right arm of the flow diagram, there is a large portion of recyclables that end up in the landfill due to food contamination or lack of segregation. The above flow of waste is an ideal scenario, however, in reality the waste is not sorted at the source which causes challenges in its management.

Landfill

In the flow diagram, it can be seen that the recyclables are collected from the landfill. By the book, landfill is the end of the chain for waste, however, in reality it is different. The members of the informal sector, who are 2.5lakh to 5lakh in number in India, collect and search for recyclables in the landfill. Due to lack of waste sorting, the majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills, which acts as a source of income for the backbone of waste management in India – the informal sector.

For efficient waste collection..

  • Efficient waste collection system which has separated bins of collection for wet and dry waste
  • Waste segregation at source will enable the efficient recovery of resources from recyclables and through waste-to-energy recovery
  • The widespread introduction of vehicles and transportation enables the collection of waste from metropolitan cities, towns, and local villages.
  • Education of waste collectors on the mode of collection, types of waste, the value of recyclables and non-recyclables in the waste collected
  • Mechanization of waste sorting at landfills and DRCCs
  • Properly managed engineered landfills reduce the interaction between

Most important of all is the urgent need for a collaborative approach from the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), state-level, and national-level authorities.

In conclusion, community awareness and responsible management create a sustainable waste management chain. This will ensure there is an optimal use of resources and the protection of the environment.

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