“Environmentally sound management of all wastes throughout their life cycle will significantly improve air quality,” said Selvi P K, Scientist at Central Pollution Control Board at session two of the India Clean Air Summit (ICAS) 2023, being held in Bengaluru. The session, focused on the interconnections between clean air and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Can Sound Management of Wastes improve air quality?
Indore, according to the cleanliness survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, is ranked first among cities in terms of air quality. It topped the Swachh Vayu Sarvekshan ranking under National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) implemented in the non-attainment cities – securing 187 points out of 200.
It is important to note that Indore is the cleanest city in India that achieved the milestone through its model of waste management. The model is centred around segregation of waste on the basis of its kind- dry and wet.
Since 2016, Indore’s municipal corporation (IMC) has eliminated garbage dumps, ensured 100% household-waste segregation and converted waste to usable products, such as compost and fuel. It partnered with non governmental organisations for an awareness campaign to change the behaviour of its citizens, contracted private companies to run some waste management operations, used technology, and improved municipal capacity to ensure the implementation of its waste management plan.
As a result, it is today, also number one when it comes to quality air.
According to the Basel Convention, ESM or Environmentally sound management is defined as taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes or other wastes are managed in a manner that will protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes.
Effects of waste on air quality
Solid waste management is a major challenge in cities with high population density. Solid waste creates several noxious gases such as suspended Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), oxides of Nitrogen (NOX), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM). The dust released from various sources can produce a group of diseases ranging from a simple cold to dangerous diseases like cancer.
Similarly, other waste types like chemical etc, also have an adverse impact on the air quality, which in turns affects the human and environment health.
Environmentally sound management can act as a guiding tool for the decision makers including stakeholder engagement, waste management planning and economics, waste collection and transportation, prevention, minimization, and recycling, etc on how to reduce the impact of wastes through proper and guided waste treatment. It helps in understanding the environmental impacts of improper waste disposal and treatment, opens scope for sustainable operations, and heals the environment in the long run. This also aligns with the Sustainable Development goals.