1. In the last fifty years, the population growth, large scale industrialisation, urbanisation, rising standard of living in villages and cities and increase in consumption, have enormously increased the waste generation in different parts of the world.
2. Nowadays the countries are dealing not only with the large amount of waste materials, but also with the hazardous nature of the wastes. For example, the nuclear waste now poses a serious health hazard in many parts of the world.
3. There has been uncontrolled dumping and improper handling of waste in many countries. This can cause contamination of surface and ground water. When the heaps of organic waste are decomposed, it gives rise to large variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
4. The stinking heaps of waste are visited by insects, flies, rodents, etc. They carry with them the germs of various diseases that affect the human habitations. The rainwater may take a part of the waste from heaps to waterbodies, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, wells, etc. and cause serious water pollution. Sometimes, this leads to breakout of epidemics and other health hazards.
5. Large heaps of organic wastes biodegrade very slowly. They produce harmful and toxic gases, which can pollute the air around.
6. If the industrial waste is not treated properly and discharged on open land or in waterbodies, it causes serious pollution of the soil and contamination of water in the rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, etc.
7. If the sewage and domestic waste are disposed of in the nearby waterbodies, they can cause the spread of many waterborne diseases. Some of the diseases caused by the use of contaminated water are typhoid, jaundice, cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea, etc.
These diseases are caused by the pathogens (bacteria, virus, protozoa and parasites) which breed and thrive in the stagnated and contaminated water. It is roughly estimated that about 60 per cent of all diseases in India are due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria in water.
8. If the domestic, industrial or agricultural wastes are not properly managed, this may lead to greater emission of the greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.), which contribute to climatic changes and global warming. The climatic changes can cause frequent and devastating floods, droughts, excessive cold during the winter season and abnormal hot weather during the summer season.
9. The phenomena of acid rain and ozone layer depletion are linked directly or indirectly with the improper waste management, which is generated from domestic work, industries and agricultural activities.
10. The cost of collection and disposal of waste is very high. Even in our country, most of the municipal committees or corporations spend about 15 per cent of their total annual budget on collection and disposal of the municipal waste.
11. People have now started thinking that the waste is a misplaced resource material, which has been abandoned at a wrong place. Thus the waste produced by one person can be a source of wealth for someone else. For example, the newspaper and magazines of the last month are waste for the buyer, but it can be used as a raw material for paper mills or paper bag makers.
12. Large quantities of organic waste are being used for generating fuel gas and electricity. It can also be used for making manures after being bio- composted. Many types of wastes can be recycled and reused for various purposes. Thus waste, if managed properly, can be a source of wealth.
13. Generally waste generated is in very large quantity and it is not possible to manage it through natural processes. The bio-degradation by the microorganisms is a time consuming process. Thus, it is necessary to develop and apply some commercial technique to have a safe waste disposal system.
14. The radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants are highly dangerous. These wastes were not there about 50 to 75 years ago. It is important to give special attention while managing the radioactive waste.
15. The heaps of solid waste from industries, agriculture or municipal waste look ugly and destroy the natural beauty of the landscape.
The above reasons demand that there should be a proper waste management system. In the last 50 or more years, many national and international organisations have been formed to suggest and develop methods and techniques to handle the safe and proper disposal of waste. Many systems have been developed based on scientific, eco-friendly and cost-effective techniques for the disposal of waste.
If we want to manage the disposal of waste properly, then there should be proper coordination between individuals, local community and the government. It must be fully understood that properly managed waste is a source of wealth. This concept must be the guiding force for all those who are attending to the task of waste management.
The common man’s attitude in our country is that it is our birth right to generate waste and it is the duty of others to remove or dispose of the accumulated waste. Time has now come to change this attitude and think positively about the massive problem of waste generation and disposal.
A step in the right direction with little effort can make a clean world. In the present age of information technology, the techniques of waste management and disposal are easily available. What we need is the desire and determination to keep our environment neat and clean.