Municipal Solid Waste Management

Municipal Solid Waste Management

  1. Municipal Solid Wastes
  2. Collection of municipal solid wastes
  3. Storage of municipal solid wastes
  4. Disposal of municipal solid wastes
  5. Managing Non-biodegradable solid waste (NBDSW)
  6. Coastal environment and social waste management
  7. Waste Management at source
  8. Some items that can be recycled or reused
  9. Role of NGOs
  10. Occupational hazards associated with waste handling Infections
  11. Role of Pollution Control Boards
  12. What can you do to reduce solid waste

Solid Waste Management may be defined as the discipline associated with the control of generation, collection, storage, transfer and transport, processing and disposal of solid wastes in a manner that is in accord with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics and other environmental considerations.

The most commonly recognized methods for the final disposal of solid wastes are:

  • Dumping on land
  • Dumping in water
  • Ploughing into the soil
  • Incineration

Municipal Solid Wastes




Municipal solid waste includes commercial and domestic wastes generated in municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes but including treated bio-medical wastes.

Collection of municipal solid wastes

Littering of municipal solid waste shall be prohibited in cities, towns and in urban areas notified by the State Governments. To prohibit littering and facilitate compliance, the following steps shall be taken by the municipal authority, namely

  • Organizing house-to-house collection of municipal solid wastes through any of the methods, like community bin collection (central bin), house-to-house collection, collection on regular pre-informed timings and scheduling by using musical bell of the vehicle.
  • Devising collection of waste from slums and squatter areas or localities including hotels, restaurants, office complexes and commercial areas.
  • Wastes from slaughter houses, meat and fish markets, fruits and vegetable markets, which are biodegradable in nature, shall be managed to make use of such wastes.
  • Bio-medical wastes and industrial wastes shall not be mixed with municipal solid wastes and such wastes shall follow the rules separately specified for the purpose.
  • Collected waste from residential and other areas shall be transferred to community bin by hand-driven carts or other small vehicles.
  • Construction or demolition wastes or debris shall be separately collected and disposed off following proper norms. Similarly, wastes generated at dairies shall be regulated in accordance with the State laws.
  • Waste (garbage, dry leaves) shall not be burnt.
  • Stray animals shall not be allowed to move around waste storage facilities or at any other place in the city or town.

Storage of municipal solid wastes

Municipal authorities shall establish and maintain storage facilities in such a manner, as they do not create unhygienic and unsanitary conditions around it. Following criteria shall be taken into account while establishing and maintaining storage facilities, namely:

  • Storage facilities shall be created and established by taking into account quantities of waste generation in a given area and the population densities. A storage facility shall be so placed that it is accessible to users.
  • Storage facilities to be set up by municipal authorities or any other agency shall be so designed that wastes stored are not exposed to open atmosphere and shall be aesthetically acceptable and user-friendly.
  • Storage facilities or ‘bins’ shall have ‘easy to operate’ design for handling, transfer and transportation of waste. Bins for storage of bio-degradable wastes shall be painted green, those for storage of recyclable wastes shall be painted white and those for storage of other wastes shall be painted black.
  • Manual handling of waste shall be prohibited. If unavoidable due to constraints, manual handling shall be carried out under proper precaution with due care for safety of workers.

Processing of municipal solid wastes

Municipal authorities shall adopt suitable technology or combination of such technologies to make use of wastes so as to minimize burden on landfill. Following criteria shall be adopted, namely

  • The biodegradable wastes shall be processed by composting, vermicomposting, anaerobic digestion or any other appropriate biological processing for stabilization of wastes.
  • Mixed waste containing recoverable resources shall follow the route of recycling.
  • Incineration with or without energy recovery can also be used for processing wastes in specific cases.

Municipal authority or the operator of a facility wishing to use other state-of-the-art technologies shall approach the Central Pollution Control Board to get the standards laid down before applying for grant of authorization.

Disposal of municipal solid wastes

Land filling shall be restricted to non-biodegradable, inert waste and other waste that are not suitable either for recycling or for biological processing. Land filling shall also be carried out for residues of waste processing facilities as well as pre-processing rejects from waste processing facilities. Land filling of mixed waste shall be avoided unless the same is found unsuitable for waste processing. Under unavoidable circumstances or till installation of alternate facilities, land filling shall be done following proper norms.

Managing Non-biodegradable solid waste (NBDSW)

Non-biodegradable solid waste (NBDSW) or refuse is a carpet word. It covers a variety of materials ranging from asbestos to Zinc batteries. Polythene and its related compounds are the most commonly found solid waste materials in urban environs. Many non-biodegradable solid waste materials are known to cause considerable environmental hazards when released into land, water and atmosphere.

Coastal environment and social waste management

Solid waste related problems prevail more in megalopolis and the dangers reach great heights in coastal cities. Solid wastes of domestic and industrial units are considered major pollutants of coastal regions of India.

Waste Management at source

Source of waste generation Action to be taken
Household • Not to throw any solid waste in the neighbourhood, on the streets, open spaces, and vacant lands, into the drains or water bodies
• Keep food waste/biodegradable waste in a non corrosive container with a cover (lid)        Keep dry, recyclable waste in a bin or bag or a sack
• Keep domestic hazardous waste if and when generated separately for disposal at specially notified locations
Multi-storeyed buildings commercial complexes private societies • Provide separate community bin or bins large enough to hold food/biodegradable waste and recyclable waste generated in the building or society.
• Direct the members of the association to deposit their waste in community bin
Slums • Use community bins provided by local body for deposition of food and biodegradable waste
Shops, offices, institutions, etc • If situated in a commercial complex, deposit the waste in bins provided by the association
Hotels & restaurants • The container used should be strong, not more than 100 litre in size, should have a handle on the top or handles on the sides and a rim at the bottom for easy handling
Vegetable & Fruit Markets • Provide large containers, which match with transportation system of the local body.
• Shop keepers not to dispose of the waste in front of their shops or open spaces.     Deposit the waste as and when generated into the large container placed in the market.
Meat & fish markets • Not to throw any waste in front of their shops or open spaces around. Keep non-corrosive container/containers not exceeding 100-litre capacity with lid handle and the rim at the bottom and deposit the waste in the said containers as and when generated.
• Transfer the contents of this container into a large container provided by the association
Street food vendors • Not to throw any waste on the street, pavement or open spaces. Keep bin or bag for the storage of waste that generates during street vending activity
• Preferably have arrangements to affix the bin or bag with the hand–cart used for vending.
Marriage halls, community halls, kalyanamandapas • Not to throw any solid waste in their neighbourhood, on the streets, open spaces, and vacant lands, into the drains or water bodies.
• Provide a large container with lid which may match with the transportation system of the local body and deposit all the waste generated in the premises in such containers.
Hospitals, Nursing homes, etc • Not to throw any solid waste in their neighbourhood, on the streets,open spaces, and vacant lands, into the drains or water bodies.
• Not to dispose off the biomedical waste in the municipal dust bins or other waste collection or storage site meant for municipal solid waste.
• Store the waste as per the directions contained in the government of India, Ministry of Environment Biomedical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998.
Construction/ demolition waste • Not to deposit construction waste or debris on the streets, footpaths, pavements, open spaces, water bodies etc.
Store the waste within the premises or with permission of the authorities just outside the premises without obstructing the traffic preferably in a container if available through the local body or private contractors
Garden waste • Compost the waste within the garden, if possible Trim the garden waste once in a week on the days notified by the local body.
• Store the waste into large bags or bins for handing over to the municipal authorities appointed for the purpose on the day of collection notified.

Some items that can be recycled or reused


  • Old copies
  • Old books
  • Paper bags
  • Newspapers
  • Old greeting cards
  • Cardboard box


  • Containers
  • Bags
  • Sheets

Glass and ceramics

  • Bottles
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Bowls


  • Old cans
  • Utensils
  • Clothes
  • Furniture

Role of NGOs

During the recent years, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have taken up initiatives to work with local residents to improve sanitation. They have been playing an active role in organizing surveys and studies in specified disciplines of social and technological sciences. In the field of garbage management, such studies are useful in identifying areas of commercial potentials to attract private entrepreneurs. They can play an important role in segregation of waste, its collection and handling over to local authorities.

They are all successfully creating awareness among the citizens about their rights and responsibilities towards solid waste and the cleanliness of their city. These organizations promote environmental education and awareness in schools and involve communities in the management of solid waste.

The NGO programmes:

  • Create mass awareness, ensuring public participation in segregation of recyclable material and storage of waste at source.
  • Provide employment through organizing door-to-door collection of waste.
  • Ensure public participation in community based primary collection system.
  • Encourage minimization of waste through in-house backyard composting, vermicomposting and biogas generation.

Urban poverty is inextricably linked with waste. In India alone, over a million people find livelihood opportunities in the area of waste; they are engaged in waste collection (popularly known as rag picking) and recycling through well-organized systems. Substantial populations of urban poor in other developing countries also earn their livelihood through waste. It is important to understand issues of waste in this context. The informal sector dealing with waste is engaged in various types of work like waste picking, sorting, and recycling at the organized level, door-to-door collection, composting and recycling recovery.

Occupational hazards associated with waste handling Infections

  • Skin and blood infections resulting from direct contact with waste, and from infected wounds.
  • Eye and respiratory infections resulting from exposure to infected dust.
  • Different diseases that results from the bites of animals feeding on the waste.
  • Intestinal infections that are transmitted by flies feeding on the waste.

Role of Pollution Control Boards

Since the disposal of municipal solid wastes poses problems of the pollution and health hazards, the Pollution Control Boards are expected to take action for persuading the civic authorities in proper management of municipal solid wastes. Though, direct responsibility of management of solid wastes is on the local municipal authorities, the Pollution Control Boards need to have close linkage with local authorities in rendering assistance in terms of carrying out necessary surveys and providing technological back-up. The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards at the national and state levels are to disseminate information and create awareness among the concerned authorities and public at large.

Action Taken

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) within the given powers to them under relevant Acts and Rules have been attempting to persuade local bodies to take appropriate measures for the treatment and disposal of domestic sewage and municipal solid waste.


In order to initiate a systematic approach on proper management of municipal waste (sewage and solid), CPCB issued directions to all SPCBS under section 18 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

Follow-ups on Directions

In compliance to the directions of the CPCB and through initiatives of SPCBs some actions have been taken. Also SPCBs have issued notices to local bodies in the states/ UTs and impressed upon them to take proper measures.

What can you do to reduce solid waste

  • Carry your own cloth or jute bag when you go shopping.
  • Say no to all plastic bags as far as possible.
  • Reduce the use of paper bags also.
  • Segregate the waste in the house – keep two garbage bins and see to it that the biodegradable and the non biodegradable is put into separate bins and disposed off separately.
  • Dig a compost pit in your garden and put all the bio degradable waste into it.
  • See to it that all garbage is thrown into the municipal bin as the collection is generally done from there.
  • When you go out do not throw paper and other wrappings or even leftover food here and there, make sure that it is put in the correct place – a dustbin.
  • Do not throw the waste/litter on the streets, drains, open spaces, water bodies etc.
  • Storage of organic/bio-degradable and recyclable waste should be done separately at source.
  • Community storage/collection of waste mechanisms to be made available in flats, multi-storied buildings, societies, commercial complexes, etc.
  • Manage excreta of pet dogs and cats appropriately.
  • Waste processing/disposal at a community level is tobe explored.
  • Pay adequately for the services provided.
  • Create awareness among your community.

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