Hazardous waste is defined as any waste that endangers human or environmental health or safety. It comprises waste generated during the production of commercial products such as petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, paint, aluminum, electronics, etc. In 2015, about 44,000 companies produced 7.46 million metric tons of hazardous trash, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
How to Handle Hazardous Waste?
Proper hazardous waste collection, storage, packaging, transportation, and treatment reduce adverse health and environmental effects. Individual waste generators may construct captive treatment facilities or utilize Common Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs). There are 40 TSDFs spread throughout 17 states/UTs.
Hazardous wastes, such as lead-acid battery scraps, spent oil, used catalysts, and so on, are utilized as raw materials and supplementary resources for material and energy recovery by industrial waste recycling companies. It is usually preferable to recycle or recover such waste to avoid landfilling or incineration. About 1080 registered recyclers, 47 cement manufacturers are permitted to co-process, and 108 companies can utilize hazardous waste.
Risks associated with Healthcare Waste
All individuals exposed to hazardous healthcare waste are potentially at risk of being injured or infected. They include:
- Medical staff: doctors, nurses, sanitary staff, and hospital maintenance personnel;
- In- and out-patients receiving treatment in health-care facilities as well as their visitors; Workers in support services linked to health-care facilities such as laundries, waste handling, and transportation services;
- Workers in waste disposal facilities, including scavengers;
- The general public and more specifically the children playing with the items they can find in the waste outside the healthcare facilities when it is directly accessible to them.
Unscientific trash disposal issues
Unscientific burning of hazardous waste emits toxic vapors such as dioxins and furans, mercury, and heavy metals, resulting in air pollution and health problems. When the trash is deposited in bodies of water or municipal landfills, contaminants are discharged into the environment. The workers have neurological issues, skin disorders, genetic anomalies, cancer, and so forth. As a result, waste avoidance, minimization, reuse, recycling; recovery, utilization, including co-processing, and safe disposal are all needed.
The following characteristics are included in the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules:
- The term ‘Other Waste’ has been added to the Rules.
- Prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, recovery, co-processing, and safe disposal are all part of the waste management hierarchy.
- The rules for permission, import/export, annual returns, and transportation have all been significantly modified, demonstrating a firm commitment to waste management while streamlining processes.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each waste type have been developed as required infrastructure to safeguard public health and the environment from the waste processing industry.
- The process of establishing a hazardous waste disposal plant and importing other wastes has been simplified.
- Co-processing has been characterized as an alternative to waste disposal as a supplementary resource or for energy recovery.
- The approval procedure for hazardous waste co-processing to recover energy has been streamlined rather than requiring a trial.
- The Rules have updated the list of garbage restricted for import/export and streamlined the document-based method.
- Metal waste, paper garbage, and other kinds of electrical and electronic equipment for re-use are no longer subject to Ministry clearance.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each waste type have been developed as the foundational architecture for protecting human health and the environment.
Importation of the following items is prohibited: garbage, home rubbish, medical equipment, reusable tires, solid plastic waste (including pet bottles), waste electrical and electronic assembly debris, and other chemical wastes (particularly solvents).
The State Government must submit an annual report to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change. By September 30th, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) must submit a yearly garbage inventory to the Central Pollution Control Board.