Integration of Advanced Technologies in Urban Waste Management

It is pertinent to distinguish between urban solid waste when compared to its rural counterpart. Rural areas generate almost negligible waste when compared to the urban areas as till recently they led frugal and minimalistic lifestyle. Basically, there are four types of solid waste in urban areas, one is the household waste, which we commonly refer to as garbage, the second is the biomedical/hospital waste, the third is the e-waste and the fourth is Construction & Demolition Waste. It is indeed very surprising to note that till date most of the developing countries have not prepared an inventory of urban solid waste. In fact, it does not seem to be a priority of either the citizens or the urban local bodies. Technology will be the key to tackle the challenges of urban solid waste management in India. Through satellite imagery/remote sensing techniques to utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), it is possible to identify hotspots where different types of waste are accumulating and also in tracking movement of bins and trucks. It would then be possible to develop an optimal strategy to transfer these wastes using GIS to appropriate treatment facilities for their ultimate disposal. One of the major issues faced in solid waste management is the existence of dumpsites, which must be closed, and the legacy waste appropriately disposed as it has now become a mountain of waste and cannot take in any fresher waste. To initiate the closure, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) needs to be done, which is hampered by the lack of past data regarding the activities at the dumpsite. Therefore, the analysis of multitemporal remote sensing images and aerial photography is a useful tool for conducting the EIA. Finally, the Government of India needs to develop a standardized policy to dispose of household waste, e-waste and medical waste. It is the need of the hour and should be done in mission mode on a war footing. The need of a central ministry on solid waste management may be set up without any further delay.