This Deepavali, 300 tonnes of hazardous waste collected from the 15 zones of Greater Chennai Corporation was sent to the Common Hazardous Waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (CHWTSDF) in Gummidipoondi. This figure marks an increase of 50 tonnes over what was collected in Deepavali 2021.
As a corporate social responsibility initiative, members of Industrial Waste Management Association (IWMA), a not-for-profit set up in 2002, ensure the segregated hazardous waste is sent to the scientific landfill in Gummidipoondi to be treated separately by RE Sustainability IWM Solutions Limited.
This is the seventh year since IWMA began to associate with GCC for responsibly disposing of the hazardous waste generated from bursting of fire crackers, says K Baskaran, chairman, Industrial Waste Management Association.
“When we started out, the collection was 50 tonnes. It has increased four times,” says Baskaran.
This clean-up is essential, as the common landfill is not the place for hazardous waste.
IWMA members say they are ready to initiate similar exercises during Deepavali for Tambaram, Avadi and other Corporations. “We only want them to ensure that segregated waste alone is sent to the site,” he says.
IWMA was brought on board as members of the association send the hazardous waste generated in their factories to the exclusive landfill, where it engages RE Sustainability IWM Solutions Limited to establish and operate the site.
IIT-Madras guides the Association.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but hazardous waste can be brought back into use through recycling.
Baskaran says the Association has more than 3300 industry representatives from the state and more than 60% of the companies send their hazardous waste to the site as it is the only one in Tamil Nadu. The rest of the companies “co-process” the waste as raw material for the cement industry.
The percentage of waste sent to the exclusive landfill is on the decline. “That is because many industries are sending them to factories where it can be co-processed or reused. So, we expect only 25% of waste to be processed here in the years to come,” he says.
Experts say utilisation of wastes through co-processing is a win–win option and it’s more environmentally sustainable.
S Mohan, Institute Chair Professor, Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Division, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-Madras, says: “Not all hazardous waste can be recycled and it depends on various factors. For instance, industries have a cocktail of hazardous waste, so it needs to carefully studied,” says Mohan
The Deepavali cracker waste generated from the city is high on air pollution rather than water or land pollution. Based on Central Pollution Control Board guidelines, a list of process are followed, says Mohan.