Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Discussion on Solutions to Waste Management in India and Elsewhere

Participants (In the order of appearance. As of 12/05/2012, 2 PM EST):
 Professor Nickolas Themelis  Dr. Ranveer Singh Mahwar  Renee Gratton  Ranjith Annepu  Asit Nema   , and Nuggehalli Vasuki (CEO (retired), DSWA).

Link to the original thread on WTERT's partner D-Waste's LinkedIn group.

The report "Observations from India's Crisis" will be published soon as a PDF, DOC on and also as a BLOG POST in this Blog

Direction: The discussion is quickly moving in the direction of discussing the best technologies for waste management in India.

Context: It started in a thread requesting help regarding a report on India's waste management crisis - by Mr. Annepu.

Initiation: The discussion was initiated by Dr. Themelis's support to the original query as a reply to a comment made by Dr. Mahwar.

Featured: Professor Nickolas Themelis's Comment On Waste Reduction:
There is no question that SOME of the waste generated in U.S. and Canada could be reduced. Both countries generate over 50% more tons per capita than Japan and other more advance nations in northern Europe. 
But these nations still incinerate about 0.3 tons per capita, rather than landfill it.
Analogy Worth a Special Mention: 
The situation with waste management is somewhat like that with public health: Good diet and exercise, vitamins, preventive medicine, all contribute to better health and less sickness. Despite all that, there will be some sick people who need to go to hospitals. It is obvious that advocating against hospitals or opposing new ones will not improve public health. 
It is the same situation with urban waste management: There all kinds of means for reduction, recycling, composting but ALL human experience has shown that at the end there remains a substantial fraction that has to go to either "incinerators with energy recovery or to sanitary landfills. Environmental organizations who oppose these two means on principle, in effect are perpetuating traditional landfilling. Regrettably, the Sierra Club is spending a lot of donated money doing just that.
Other Comments

On the use of word "Crisis" for the waste management situation in India

Dr. Mahwar's comment:
What do you mean by crises in waste management? Are there any crises of waste management in India or any where in the world in your knowledge?
Prof. Themelis's response (edited):
The use of word "crisis" is apt. For example, refer to the detailed report for just one place, Bangalore, in the New York Times. (India's Plague, Trash, Drowns Its Garden City During Strike)
Asit Nema's response (edited):
I could not agree more with you on the term 'Crisis'! Indeed we have a full blown crisis here (example Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram-Vilappilsala and many other cities) as over the last 12 - 15 years, all interventions attempted across the country have been driven by the desire to convert 'waste-to-wealth' and 'waste-to-energy' but ironically they have resulted in 'waste-of-wealth' and 'waste-of-energy'! 
Renee Gratton's comment:
I am not entirely surprised at the state of waste management in India, (however) your report had me gasping at the effects this brings. (report will be published soon on and this blog)