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| Last Updated:: 17/02/2017

Municipal Solid Wastes

Municipal solid waste


The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 2000, prescribed under the Environment Protection Act 1986 by the Government of India define municipal waste as "includes commercial and residential wastes generated in a municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes but including treated bio-medical wastes" 


Municipal solid waste consists of household waste, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue, and waste from streets. This garbage is generated mainly from residential and commercial complexes. With rising urbanization and change in lifestyle and food habits, the amount of municipal solid waste has been increasing rapidly and its composition changing. In 1947 cities and towns in India generated an estimated 6 million tonnes of solid waste, in 1997 it was about 48 million tonnes. More than 25% of the municipal solid waste is not collected at all; 70% of the Indian cities lack adequate capacity to transport it and there are no sanitary landfills to dispose of the waste. The existing landfills are neither well equipped or well managed and are not lined properly to protect against contamination of soil and groundwater.


Over the last few years, the consumer market has grown rapidly leading to products being packed in cans, aluminum foils, plastics, and other such non-biodegradable items that cause incalculable harm to the environment. In India, some municipal areas have banned the use of plastics and they seem to have achieved success. For example, today one will not see a single piece of plastic in the entire district of Ladakh where the local authorities imposed a ban on plastics in 1998. Other states should follow the example of this region and ban the use of items that cause harm to the environment. One positive note is that in many large cities, shops have begun packing items in reusable or biodegradable bags. Certain biodegradable items can also be composted and reused. In fact proper handling of the biodegradable waste will considerably lessen the burden of solid waste that each city has to tackle. 

Garbage: the four broad categories 

  • Organic waste: kitchen waste, vegetables, flowers, leaves, fruits.
  • Toxic waste: old medicines, paints, chemicals, bulbs, spray cans, fertilizer and pesticide  containers, batteries, shoe polish
  • Recyclable: paper, glass, metals, plastics.
  • Soiled: hospital waste such as cloth soiled with blood and other body fluids. 

The type of litter we generate and the approximate time it takes to degenerate

Type of litter

Approximate time it takes to degenerate the litter

Organic waste such as vegetable and fruit peels, leftover foodstuff, etc.

a week or two.


10-30 days

Cotton cloth

2-5 months


10-15 years

Woolen items

1 year

Tin, aluminium, and other metal items such as cans

100-500 years

Plastic bags

one million years?

Glass bottles




Management of Municipal Solid waste 

Facilities for effective collection, transportation and disposal of MSW are indicate in U.P.  e.g. in Lucknow estimates of uncollected wastes vary from 50% (Department of Urban Development, U.P.) to 33%. U.P. towns and cities on an average have one waste management staff/668 inhabitants and since the level of mechanization is very low. This ratio is grossly inadequate to effectively manage the MSW.

The schematic diagram below depicts recycling of wastes


Source: CPCB Report on Management of Muncipal Solid Waste

District wise municipal solid waste generation


Treatment and disposal of municipal waste
As cities are growing in size with a rise in the population, the amount of waste generated is increasing becoming unmanageable. The local corporations have adapted different methods for the disposal of waste, open dumps, landfills, sanitary landfills, and incineration plants. One of the important methods of waste treatment is composting.

Open dumps

Open dumps refer to uncovered areas that are used to dump solid waste of all kinds. The waste is untreated, uncovered, and not segregated. It is the breeding ground for flies, rats, and other insects that spread disease. The rainwater run-off from these dumps contaminates nearby land and water thereby spreading disease. In some countries, open dumps are being phased out.


Landfills are generally located in urban areas where a large amount of waste is generated and has to be dumped in a common place. Unlike an open dump, it is a pit that is dug in the ground. The garbage is dumped and the pit is covered thus preventing the breeding of flies and rats. At the end of each day, a layer of soil is scattered on top of it and some mechanism, usually earth-moving equipment is used to compress the garbage, which now forms a cell. Thus, every day, garbage is dumped and becomes a cell. After the landfill is full, the area is covered with a thick layer of mud and the site can thereafter be developed as a parking lot or a park.
Landfills have many problems. All types of waste is dumped in landfills and when water seeps through them it gets contaminated and in turn pollutes the surrounding area. This contamination of groundwater and soil through landfills is known as leaching.

Sanitary landfills

An alternative to landfills which will solve the problem of leaching to some extent, is a sanitary landfill which is more hygienic and built in a methodical manner. These are lined with materials that are impermeable such as plastics and clay, and are also built over impermeable soil. Constructing sanitary landfills is very costly and they are having their own problems. Some authorities claim that often the plastic liner develops cracks as it reacts with various chemical solvents present in the waste.

The rate of decomposition in sanitary landfills is also extremely variable. This can be due to the fact that less oxygen is available as the garbage is compressed very tightly. It has also been observed that some biodegradable materials do not decompose in a landfill. Another major problem is the development of methane gas, which occurs when little oxygen is present, i.e. during anaerobic decomposition. In some countries, the methane being produced from sanitary landfills is tapped and sold as fuel.

Incineration plants

This process of burning waste in large furnaces is known as incineration. In these plants the recyclable material is segregated and the rest of the material is burnt. At the end of the process all that is left behind is ash. During the process some of the ash floats out with the hot air. This is called fly ash. Both the fly ash and the ash that is left in the furnace after burning have high concentrations of dangerous toxins such as dioxins and heavy metals. Disposing of this ash is a problem. The ash that is buried at the landfills leaches the area and cause severe contamination.
Burning garbage is not a clean process as it produces tons of toxic ash and pollutes the air and water. A large amount of the waste that is burnt here can be recovered and recycled. In fact, at present, incineration is kept as the last resort and is used mainly for treating the infectious waste.


Organic matter constitutes 35%-40% of the municipal solid waste generated in India. This waste can be recycled by the method of composting, one of the oldest forms of disposal. It is the natural process of decomposition of organic waste that yields manure or compost, which is very rich in nutrients. Composting is a biological process in which microorganisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, convert degradable organic waste into humus like substance. This finished product, which looks like soil, is high in carbon and nitrogen and is an excellent medium for growing plants. The process of composting ensures the waste that is produced in the kitchens is not carelessly thrown and left to rot. It recycles the nutrients and returns them to the soil as nutrients. Apart from being clean, cheap, and safe, composting can significantly reduce the amount of disposable garbage. The organic fertilizer can be used instead of chemical fertilizers and is better specially when used for vegetables. It increases the soil's ability to hold water and makes the soil easier to cultivate. It helped the soil retain more of the plant nutrients.


Status as on 28/01/2015 (Source: U.P. Pollution Control Board)


Total no. of local bodies- 630

Nagar Nigam-13

Nagar Palika Parishad-196

Nagar Panchayat-421

Total Generation of MSW – 19180 TPD

Treated quantity of MSW – 5197 TPD

MSW facility installed & operational in Nagar Nigam - 08 (Kanpur, Agra, Lucknow, Moradabad, Aligarh, Varanasi, Allahabad & Bareilly).

Bareilly Nagar Nigam MSW facility is presently closed in the compliance of Hon'ble NGT order.

No. of MSW facility under construction (Nagar Nigam Jhansi)

No. of Nagar Nigam which do not have MSWTF - 04 (Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Saharanpur)

No. of MSW facility installed & operational in Nagar Palika-08 (Muzaffarnagar, Mainpuri, Etawah, Raebareily, Barabanki, Fatehpur, Kannauj & Mathura).

No. of MSW facility under construction in Palika-02 (Sambhal & Mirzapur) 

No. of Nagar Palika which do not have MSWTF-186

No. of Nagar Panchayat which do not have any facility-421 


There are 630 urban local bodies (Nagar Nigam-13, Nagar Palika Parishad-196, Nagar Panchayat-421) are identified in State of UP. Out of 13 Nagar Nigam, 8 Nagar Nigams namely Kanpur, Agra. Lucknow, Moradabad, Aligarh, Varanasi, Allahabad and Bare1ly have been installed MSW treatment and disposal facilities (MSWTSDF). Nagar Nigam Bareilly MSW facility is presently closed in compliance of Hon'bJe National Green Tribunal Order. While OJ MSW treatment and disposal facility is under development at Nagar Nigam Jhansi. Remaining 04 Nagar Nigams namely Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gorakhpur and Saharanpur, development of MSW treatment disposal facilities yet to be done. Further more 08 MSW treatment and disposal facilities are installed and operational at different Nagar Palika Parishad ie Muzaffarnagar, Mainpuri. Etawah, Raebareliy, Barabanki, Fatehpur, Kannauj and Mathura. Again development of 02 MSW treatment and disposal facilities is under progress at Nagar Palika Parishad Sambhal and Mirzapur. Municipal Solid Waste generation is about 19180 TPD in state of UP out of which about 5197 TPD MSW is processed/treated (Approx. 27%). These figures clearly reflect that MSW Rules are not enforced and the local bodies are non-compliant. Majority of the local bodies have not approached SPCB for seeking authorization under MSW Rules. Also, Local bodies are not submitting Annual Reports to SPCB and this is the main cause that SPCB is not able to adhere with time schedule given in the Rule for submitting Annual Report.


Existing Facility for waste processing and disposal
In respect of Waste processing and disposal16 MSW treatment and disposal sites have been constructed and operational in U.P. while 3 MSW treatment disposal sites are under construction, Disposal of municipal solid waste is done by composting, bio-composting. Vermi-composting, palletization/composting, landfilling etc. These 16 MSW treatment and disposal facilities, 03 sites are based on composting process, 01 site is based on composting/landfilling/recycling/briquette makjng, 05 sites are based on bio-composting/landfill, 01 site bio-composting/RDF process, 04 sites on palletization /composting and 02 sites are operational on the basis of vermi-composting process etc.