ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

How Not to and How to Tackle Waste

The editorial “Not in My Backyard” (EPW, 21 July 2012) on the issue of municipal solid waste was timely and welcome. The management of urban waste has serious public health implications for both waste generators and handlers in cities and also for unsuspecting villagers in the peri-urban areas where it is dumped. The editorial in good faith makes a statement about the “fortune” of having a large informal army of waste-pickers! The fact that in 21st century India, millions of economically marginalised and socially excluded wage-less workers have to rummage through waste in order to earn a living can hardly be called “fortunate”.

What we are fortunate in having is a robust market-driven value chain in recyclables. Informal workers recover or extract recyclable materials that are then traded and supplied to industries as raw material. It makes economic sense to strengthen and regularise these informal recycling markets by providing land, concessions and incentives, and investing in them. It also makes environmental sense. Improving the conditions of workers in the value chain is another area of focus. Organic waste too will fetch a market if it is converted into soil-enriching compost that can substitute chemical fertiliser in the interests of sustainable agriculture. But then what would the dozens of consulting firms, financiers and technology peddlers that have sprung up to do business in the wake of urban renewal missions do?

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.