THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 28 November 2018 (The three bin solution)

The three bin solution

Mains Paper 4: Governance
Prelims level: Waste Management
Mains level: Waste management importance and procedure


  •  We have been writing about the importance of not mixing household wastes because the tasks of collection, transport, recycling, processing and safe disposal are much easier.
  •  We focus here on a completely different kind of household waste —hazardous waste.
  •  With changing lifestyles, with different chemicals and products which, often without us being aware, are corrosive, explosive, flammable or toxic.

Why waste recycling is so important?

  •  These are dangerous wastes that need to be kept out of the wet and dry waste streams.
  •  They are harmful not only for our health but also for the environment if not disposed of properly.
  •  Domestic hazardous waste is defined under Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 to include items such as discarded cans of paint and pesticide, sanitary waste such as disposable diapers and sanitary pads, items of biomedical waste such as expired or discarded medicines, broken mercury thermometers, used needles and syringes, e-waste such as tube lights and

CFL bulbs, and also items such as used batteries and button cells, all generated at the household level.

  •  Leftover paints and varnishes are examples of common polluting wastes in homes.
  •  They often contain toxic heavy metals and flammable solvents.
  •  Lead, a highly toxic metal, is found in lead-based paints which are often used on walls, toys and art supplies.
  •  Young children are particularly vulnerable can cause cognitive disabilities in children.

The WHOs concern

  •  WHO lists lead exposure as one of the top 10 environmental health threats globally.
  •  Many countries have phased out lead from their paints.
  •  In November 2016, India brought in a regulation which allowed a maximum of 90 ppm lead content in paints.
  •  However, a study by Toxic Links published in October 2018 shows that concentration of lead in paints manufactured by small and medium enterprises in India remains very high.
  •  What is even more disturbing is that only 16 per cent of the 160 consumers surveyed were aware of the issue of lead in paints.
  • Other examples of hazardous domestic waste are pesticides for mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and rats.
  •  These are as poisonous for humans as they are deadly for their targets.
  •  About 2-3 per cent of these liquids typically remain in supposedly empty containers.
  •  Broken glass is the most commonly dangerous domestic hazardous waste.

Primitive measures

  •  The principal responsibility for the safe disposal of sanitary waste, suitably wrapped, manufacturers of sanitary pads and diapers must provide pouches.
  •  Domestic hazardous waste comes under the ambit of Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016.
  •  Hazardous waste generated by industries and large offices is separately covered under the Hazardous Waste Rules 2016.
  •  Some biomedical waste is included in the definition of domestic hazardous waste, but only waste from healthcare establishments is covered under the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016.
  •  Similarly E-waste Management Rules 2016 are applicable to e-waste including computers, printers, TV, fluorescent and other mercury containing lamps, while lead acid batteries from home inverters and cars come under Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules 2001.

Way forward

  •  The awareness of the hazard among those who generate the waste and those who handle it is almost non-existent.
  •  It is the responsibility of the municipal authorities under the SWM Rules 2016, to collect hazardous waste quarterly or periodically, and/or set up deposit centres, where such waste can be dropped off by waste generators.
  •  The rules lose their significance because there are hardly any deposit centres for domestic hazardous waste.
  •  The Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 require safe disposal of only healthcare waste.
  •  While only 10-25 per cent of biomedical waste is infectious or hazardous, if not properly handled, it presents physical, chemical and microbiological risk to the general population as well as those who handle this waste.
  •  According to the WHO, in 2016, 490,000 persons developed multidrug resistant TB globally and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well.
  •  Let us begin by keeping three bins for our waste: Dry, wet and hazardous.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. Consider the following regarding composting
1. Composting can be aerobic or anaerobic
2. Composting organisms require carbon for oxidizing the oxygen in the decomposition process

Select the correct statement/s
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both
d) None

Answer: A

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Define waste management. Why waste recycling is so important for India?