Municipal Solid Waste

Why is it in News?

According to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment, nearly half of India’s waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, meant to convert non-biodegradable waste, are defunct. Further, the country’s inability to segregate waste has resulted in even the existing plants working below capacity.

Waste to Energy Plants in India:

Since 1987, 15 WTE plants have been set up across the country. However, seven of these plants have since shut down. Apart from Delhi, these include plants at Kanpur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Vijayawada and Karimnagar.

Reason for Inefficiency of these Plants:

  • The key reasons for closure are the plants’ inability to handle mixed solid waste and the high cost of electricity generated by them that renders it unattractive to power companies.
  • Another reason is the quality and composition of waste. MSW (municipal solid waste) in India has low calorific value and high moisture content. As most wastes sent to the WTE plants are unsegregated, they also have high inert content. These wastes are just not suitable for burning in these plants. To burn them, additional fuel is required which makes these plants expensive to run.
  • Moreover, the plants are expensive because they produce power at nearly Rs.7 per unit, which is more than the Rs.3-5 offered by thermal as well as solar sources.
  • The Smoke coming out from plants due to the burning of the wastes have the traces of Furan /Dioxins which are carcinogenic. These smokes must be treated before discharging into the atmosphere, which further adds upon the cost of production.

Government Schemes/ Proposals related to Municipal Solid Waste:

  • The NITI Aayog, as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, envisages 800 megawatt from WTE plants by 2018-19, which is 10 times the capacity of all the existing WTE plants put together.
  • It also proposes setting up a Waste-to-Energy Corporation of India, which would construct incineration plants through PPP models. Currently, there are 40-odd WTE plants at various stages of construction
Source: TH