The Significance of Waste ManagementUnderstanding the role of waste management in creating a sustainable future
<p>India generates approximately 62 million tonnes of waste a year, and only 20% of this waste is recycled. The overproduction of waste is a major issue looming above the country, not just because of the distressing impact it has on society but also because about 87 lakh metric tonnes of this waste is hazardous in nature. Given that the FMCG industry is the 4th largest sector of the Indian economy, shouldn’t waste management be more of a pressing priority?
In what ways does waste have to be managed?
Waste management refers to the activities conducted to manage waste from its collection to eventual disposal. Solid, liquid, hazardous, nonhazardous, household, industrial, biomedical, municipal, and organic waste are all a byproduct of industrial processes; waste management methods seek to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts that waste has on society.
The most common methods of waste management.
Landfills are designated sites where collected waste is dumped and buried. This is where 31 million tonnes of the waste generated in India is dumped.
Recycling is an effective tool for solid waste management. It refers to the process of converting waste materials, like plastics or metals, into something reusable. Only 50% of the 3.6 lakh million tonnes of total plastic waste generated in India is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills
Incineration is the disposal of waste through burning. Hazardous or medical waste is typically incinerated. Whilst burning can be used as a source of energy it is still a major source of air pollution.
This is the process of decomposing organic materials through methods of composting or anaerobic digestion. This method recovers value from waste by producing biogas which can be used to generate electricity and heat and also produces mulch or compost that can be used for agricultural purposes.
Waste to energy
Waste to energy is a method that converts non-recyclable materials into usable energy. Heat, fuel and electricity are generated through combustion, methane recovered from landfills and even biological reprocessing.
The benefits of waste management.
The environmental benefit
Waste directly impacts the environment and its disposal pollutes the air, water and soil. Waste management reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves the quality of air and water, and the condition of any area affected by the waste.
The health benefit
Waste and emissions impact the health of the exposed nearby communities, industry personnel and surrounding animal life in the long run. Such risks can be averted with stringent waste management processes in place that ensure proper waste disposal and assure safety.
The cost benefit
Waste management processes may be expensive but they facilitate recycling. In the long run, using recycled material is more cost-effective than buying non-recycled material for industrial use.
The employment benefit
Waste management is complex due to how expansive it can be. The requirement of labour would open up employment opportunities across the country.
The energy benefit
Energy generated through certain methods of waste management compels industries to use less of the earth's resources that are associated with manufacturing new materials.
The efficiency benefit
Effective waste management policies ensure that disasters posing a threat to the general public, animals, birds and other surroundings attributed to improper waste management remain avoided.
The challenges of waste management.
Depending on the amount of waste generated, waste management can be an expensive undertaking. Implementing strategies to reduce production waste while also maintaining the quality of products produced is a way of ensuring cost-effectiveness.
Waste segregation is required to be done at the source to effectively reap the benefits of its methods. But due to improper infrastructure, waste is segregated incorrectly, resulting in the mixing of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
Waste management sites can be unsafe for workers, the environment, wildlife, aquatic life and nearby communities alike. Water contamination, smoke, fire or radioactive hazards, make waste management sites unsafe, especially if not managed in a comprehensive manner.
A few waste management solutions.
Maintaining sustainability is a challenge for FMCG companies and one way to curb such waste management challenges is to reduce the amount of waste the company produces. This can be done by:
Teaming up and collaboration
Waste management methods are complex and require a lot of supervision. Hiring a dedicated team that administers these complex processes with their expertise is essential because errors are costly. Furthermore, partnering with similar organisations that share the same goals would not just make waste management more cost-effective but also practical and efficient.
Having systems in place for proper waste segregation is essential. The separation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste can be done by installing bins or supervising waste disposal sites. This can improve the rate of recycling, reduce cost and reduce the overall impact of waste on the environment.
Tracking and assessment
Keeping track of how much waste is generated helps implement strategies to reduce waste. Consistent evaluation of methods that need changing would improve the effectiveness of waste management procedures.
The HCCB way
HCCB realises the impact of improper industrial waste management, which is why we go beyond mere compliance and are proactive in our efforts to bring change.
In 2021 we collected 100% of the 113,000 MT of plastic we used by implementing a plastic waste management model that incentivised safai sathis to collect disposed PET bottles.
Additionally, we also launched the Plastic Lao Thaila Pao campaign, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, in an effort to encourage people to exchange their plastic waste in favour of cloth bags.
Our efforts in plastic waste management were recognised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with a certificate which we received at the Waste to Worth international conference; an event themed after ‘Achieving Circular Economy through Innovative 3R techniques’.
HCCB’s long-term vision for waste management is to ensure that we reuse, reduce, recycle and limit our environmental impact while also creating employment opportunities for waste collection workers along the way.
In and of itself, waste generation is not a problem, but its overproduction certainly is. With a shift in focus to sustainable procedures and processes, FMCG companies can aim to reduce the negative impact that waste has on the environment.