Among many sources of air pollution in a growing number of cities, an important non-traditional source is burning of household (and industrial) waste, though prohibited by law. There are regular incidences of waste burning (following road sweeping or in residential corridors where waste gets accumulated, but not collected in full, or even at the landfills). This is a common sight among the developing country cities and growing nuisance, in part due to an inefficient waste collection system. For example, the landfill waste burning incident in Mumbai, in March, 2016, was large enough to be captured on satellites). A direct impact of waste burning is emissions of particulate matter (most harmful of the criteria ambient pollutants), carbon monoxide, and toxins (depending on the mix of the waste). Given the uncertainty in knowing what and how much is burnt, it is very difficult to estimate these emissions and linked health impacts.
The waste that gets burnt is very mixed in nature – dry waste and wet waste. A summary of how much waste is generated, how the waste is segregated (or not segregated), how much waste is managed at the landfills, in India (at the city and the national scales) is presented here. While the dry waste can be picked up and recycled, there is little value for the wet waste at the landfills. However, the wet waste can be composted and used in every household for composting flowers and vegetable gardens or any plant.
So, we put together an easy to read primer on how to compost wet waste. You can download a pdf version of the primer here or browse the pages below.
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