Efficient management of non-biodegradable waste and resource conservation
A single household in the State generates over a month 45.29 kg of organic and non-biodegradable discards compared to 393.63 kg a month of waste generated by a commercial establishment, a study carried out by the Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network has revealed.
Organic material, mostly coconut fronds, husks, and coconut shells, constitutes nearly 80 per cent of the waste, whereas paper and plastic account for 11.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively, of the waste, a feasibility study on resource facility for slow-decaying organic matter and non-biodegradable discards carried out by Thanal, a public interest research and campaign organisation, for the Kerala Suchitwa Mission shows.
Of the average 393.63 kg of organic and non-biodegradable waste generated by a commercial establishment in a month, paper dominates with 52.4 per cent, plastic accounts for 7.4 per cent, and organic materials for 24.5 per cent. The overall rate of recovery of households is 14.55 per cent and for commercial establishments, it is 17 per cent. Paper dominates the rate of recovery at the household-level with 47.5 per cent and at the commercial establishment level with 53.53 per cent.
The rate of recovery of plastic materials at the household-level is about 12.7 per cent and at commercial establishment level, it is 9.64 per cent.
Thanal, in its report, said the findings showed the potential of a properly designed and placed resource recovery system for efficient resource management. Targeting 50 per cent of recovery, it would be a great achievement in terms of solid waste management and resource conservation.
The study team recommended establishment of resource recovery facilities at the local self-government level as part of the municipal waste management system incorporating waste pickers and scrap traders to improve the efficiency of recovery of discarded material.
Existing discard handling systems mostly focussed on biodegradable discards, which were a priority for local self-governments. There was not enough initiative to address non-biodegradable discards, which in turn posed hurdles in efficient management of solid waste.
Resource recovery centres were a new concept in the country, though they were present in many countries. A resource recovery centre is a space provided with necessary infrastructure, machinery, tools, and human power to sort, clean, and store non-biodegradable discards from primarily sorted municipal waste and made available for production or consumption process.
The ‘discard characterisation' study for the entire State was done last year by analysing samples collected from select locations.
Thanal observed that there was no strategy, plan, or policy to record, monitor and handle post-consumer discards such as disposable plastic products, napkins, bulbs and tubes, plastic packaging material, and household chemicals. It said the government had no policy or programme to accredit and incorporate the people working in the non-formal sector starting from waste picking to recycling. There was no infrastructure facility to utilise slow-decaying biomass discards generated.
Keywords: solid waste management