Kolkata : At a time when the challenges of solid waste management in land-scarce urban areas in West Bengal, including Kolkata, are mounting, the State Government is gravely concerned at the single use of plastic bags and bottles, and also tonnes of wastes generated at construction and demolition sites.
“In a densely populated state like West Bengal, the problem assumes greater dimension”, said Mr. Arnab Roy, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, at the Conference on Sustainable Waste Management organized recently by CII in association with the Department of Environment in Kolkata.
“In order to arrest single use of plastic bags, which constitute 50 per cent of the plastic wastes, we need cooperation from all,” Mr. Roy said, adding that the Government is extremely serious about converting wastes into wealth and a potent means to generate jobs. “The Government is also keen that all stakeholders – the Government, industry and private citizens – come together to evolve a robust waste management mechanism.”
According to him, challenges of solid wastes are no longer limited to urban areas. “The rural panchayat areas are also becoming relevant in the scheme of things,” he said, adding that a lot of good ventures can be built.
“Make value out of waste, increase efficiency of collection, recycling and processing, and make public-private handshaking. The situation is win-win for all, and the economy will also get a boost,” was how Mr. Roy summed up.
Dr. Kalyan Rudra, Chairman, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, said that in the light of scarcity of land, the State Government is taking a cluster approach in solid waste management. The Government has identified common land for dumping wastes for as many as six municipalities – Dum Dum, South Dum Dum, North Dum Dum, Kamarhati, Baranagar and Barrackpore, he said, describing the move as an integrated approach.
According to him, air quality, solid waste, bio-diversity and also the management of the Ganges are some of the key challenges facing the Government. “The stress on environment is increasing. We are living on the edges,” Dr Rudra warned.
As to the single use of plastics, Dr Rudra said, “50% plastics bags and bottles are single use, and that’s dangerous. It is high time we changed our habit.”
Mr. Subrata Mandal, Chief General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), spoke of the immense business opportunities that farm wastes can create. He also said NABARD is playing a major role in funding organic farming carried out in a judicious and environment-friendly manner.
Mr. Chitranjan Dar, Chairman, Sustainability Sub-committee, & Group Head – CPO, LSTC, EHS and Quality Assurance, ITC Ltd, said waste is an area which has the potential of producing next band of millionaires and generating jobs.
“There is absolutely no reason to look at wastes as a source of eyesores. It is actually a hidden treasure to make wealth,” he said, adding that finding new sources of income generation is an imperative.
Mr. Dar also underscored the importance of a circular economy, which, unlike a linear economy, ensures that whatever we produce and consume do not degenerate into irretrievable wastes, but come back as products or items of valuable use.
Mr. Dar cited an Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) finding which he said that while dumping 10,000 tonnes of waste in a landfill can create as many as six jobs, recycling the same amount of waste would create 36 jobs. “Business of waste is all about how we collect and re-cycle,” Mr. Dar said.
Mr. Dipankar Chakrabarti, Co-Chairman, CII ER Innovation Taskforce & Executive Director, Advisory Risk Management Leader, PwC India, said to overcome the huge burden of wastes, it’s extremely important significantly reduce waste generation, maximize reuse / recycling and further utilization of the same as alternate raw material / fuel; thus reducing the burden in land filling.
“To fulfill this objective, we should adopt cleaner production technologies, utilize environmentally friendly alternative materials to minimize the effects on the environment and improve resource efficiency,” Mr. Chakrabarti said.
The conference was a platform for all stakeholders – technology providers, industrial houses, municipal bodies, financial institutions and community stakeholders – to interact and exchange ideas on the actions needed to be adopted for an innovative waste management mechanism.
According to reports, managing urban India’s 68.4 million MT of municipal wastes could generate 600,000 to 750,000 jobs and this is impossible without the help of test technologies and IT experts. Further the study reveals that an estimated 600,000 workers will be employed in the various organized and unorganized e-waste recycling units in Delhi itself. This clearly shows the secret that MSW holds in creating new job opportunities.
There were separate sessions on Challenges and Way Forward in Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Corporate Strategies on Waste Management and Emerging Opportunities in Waste Management Sector through Circular Economy Approach, Bio Medical Waste Management, atest Technologies/Best Practices pertaining to Waste Management in India.