Waste to Energy
Waste to Energy is considered a great solution to the massive problems of waste generated by urban bodies. Not only are the millions of tons of waste processed but they also help in generation of energy. Landfills which are being fast used up by the millions of tons of waste being generated are now able to accommodate additional waste. However the waste to energy plants have generated serious opposition from environmentalists.
The Major Problems are:
a) Waste needs to be sorted before being burned. However in India segregation of dry and wet waste is not done. All waste including harmful chemicals and metals are burnt which lead to harmful emissions.
b) There is also the problem of obsolete technology being used. There are no standards of technology to be used. Private players put up plants with the cheapest technology which do more harm than good.
c) The location of the Waste to Energy plant also leads a lot to be desired. Building of WTE in the middle of Okhla speaks of the stupidity and ignorance of the planners (if they can be called that).
One would have thought that waste to energy being a renewable energy form would win support from this group. But the problem with waste to energy in India is that it leads to pollution of the air and the environment where it is located as planning is lacking. Environmentalists accuse the Government of polluting the environment in its quest to save land being used for waste. They say that a greener solution would be to promote recycling, re-usage and better segregation rather than burning of the waste.
Note Waste to Energy Plants are currently too small to be able to make any serious difference to the power supply in the country. The waste to energy plants in Delhi and Pune are generating between 10 to 16 MW. Note Singapore which is one of the more environment friendly countries has 4 WTE plants generating 40 MW in total and processing more than 7000 tons of waste daily. In Singapore, there is no opposition to WTE because the whole waste management is done in a holistic and organized manner. In India like everything, Government does things in a haphazard way which leads to problems later. The first WTE plant in India built in 1990 was shut down as waste was not segregated. However 20 years on, nobody seems to have learned anything as still all kinds of waste are burnt in the incinerators leading to the emissions of harmful substances. These emissions lead to major problems from local residents which the Government is not prepared to consider.
The problem is that in India, there is no national standard for emissions and quality of the waste to energy plant. The municipal corporations which are the governing bodies funding and building these plants have little expertise and are going ahead with little planning or ideas. If the plants are built involving the communities with proper segregation of waste like it is done in developed countries, the problem would go away. However nothing is being done leading to opposition from all new WTE plants being built in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Also read about the list of e-waste companies in India.