by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

India, a country filled with diversity and even more people. Our country’s waste is majorly dumped in landfills. On the brink of urbanization and other projects in planning, there is hardly enough space for landfills. In India, 94% of the waste is dumped in landfills while only 5% is composted and recycled. This margin compared to other countries in the world is very minimal.  One of the mains reasons for this is because 70% of all plastic is discarded. With so much trash and such little space to store it, this system is not effective. Reducing waste has not worked as year after year the waste in this country is only increasing. More than 20% of India’s methane emissions is only due to its landfills. 

On the other hand, we have Singapore, whose waste management system allows most of the country’s wastage to be externally eradicated or converted into reusable energy. The system works this way – all the waste is first sent to the Waste – To – Energy  plants based in the country. Here the waste is incinerated in bulk, reducing it’s volume by approximately 90%. The heat released during this process is used in the country’s sophisticated central heating systems. To avoid odours from escaping, the plant’s air is kept below atmospheric pressure. An effective cleaning system with electrostatic precipitators, dosing of lime powder and catalytic bag filter eliminates the pollutants and dust from the gas before it is released into the air via chimneys. Hence, the air released is cleaner than normal air. This first step on it’s own eliminates the need for major and industrial landfills and allows for clean and pure air and extermination of bulk trash. A byproduct of the first step, is ash left over. This ash and non-incinerable waste is brought to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station, a facility that allows the waste to be transported to the Semakau Landfill. The transport vehicles are weighed to determine the weight of trash. The measures taken during the construction process of the landfill ensures that the wildlife and coral reefs along the shore remain intact and healthy. This entire process is an extremely conscious and comprehensive one that allows Singapore to be as environmentally friendly and clean as it is. The compact and conscious population of this country makes this process easy and successful. To know more about the process you could watch a video by Nas Daily.

For India to adopt a system like Singapore’s is going to be beneficial. Like an expert at the Center of Science and Environment said, “Instead of constructing new landfill sites, the government should be really looking into innovative methods to dispose and recycle its waste.” This idea seems plausible in India since these factories could be built where the current landfills are resided, these factories could first work on reducing the large heaps of garbage in the landfill and then move on to everyday garbage disposal. These factories could work in metropolitan cities since those are where most of the countries waste comes from. There is minimal labour needed in this process and does not allow the emission of harmful gases which is why it is a safe option. If India does manage to implement this idea, it will make its compost and recycling waste percentage increase as well as make the villages next to landfills better to live in. The four bin system and segregating waste in this country hardly works due to only around 77% of India is literate. With that system gone, one of the only ways India can have a more efficient trash disposal system is to burn it, in a safe manner.

Although can’t be deemed impossible, India may be posed with some serious problems when trying to implement Singapore’s waste management techniques. Some of them could possibly be, the fact that most of the citizens are not conscious enough. Having a supportive and environmentally conscious citizens base is essential for the success of the implementation of such techniques. In India, where large populations are poverty stricken, the environment is not the biggest of issues, though it may be the most important and dire. Most people are not aware of the necessity of composting, reusing and segregating their waste, without which this system will fail miserably. Secondly, we have such a large population, large amounts of extra waste therefore we would need several more and larger plants and facilities to implement the same system. The government neither has the money nor the initiative to fund such a large, demanding and expensive system that might not even work as desired. Thirdly, most Indian households do not house central heating systems and neither do our public places. Is India a country that requires this the most? Yes, of course. However, the real question is, is it feasible for our country to invest in such a system?

To conclude, in a country as small as Singapore and with a public as conscious as theirs, they are able to dispose of their trash very effectively and reduce it by 90%. However, in India where people aren’t that mindful of their trash and segregation, this system will not be successful. In Singapore since they have a lesser amount of people and much less waste, it is easier for them to pull off a system like this. However, in a country as big as India and with the level of wastage so high, there are going to be much more challenges. It is vital for the citizens to be conscious and aware not only about the system installed by also what they can contribute to its success. This could possibly include the segregation of waste and not throwing waste on the road. All in all, maybe changing the system minimally and educating people about the importance of segregating waste and reducing it could be one step in the right direction to a much more efficient trash disposal system.

A collection of articles by the students of Ascend International School