An Efficacious and Innovative Model of Solid Waste Management for Urban Centers with People’s Participation: A Program to be Scaled-up with Public-Private Sponsorships

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    The provision of Solid Waste Management (SWM) services is an expensive and difficult problem for local authorities in most of the developing counties. The solid waste in the urban centres is typically defined to include: refuse from households, non-hazardous solid (not sludge or semi-solid) waste from industrial and commercial establishments, and refuse from institutions (including nonpathogenic waste from hospitals), market waste, yard waste, and street sweepings. In majority of metro cities in developing countries, service coverage is low, resources are inadequate, and uncontrolled dumping is widespread. Poor waste collection and disposal practices have significant environmental and health impacts. One solution is being increasingly proposed to improve the SWM services is to contract with the private sector on the basis that service efficiency and coverage can be improved and environmental protection enhanced. Private sector participation in SWM is a possible opportunity but not necessarily an answer for all of the problems. Important questions must be asked as to whether and how to involve the private sector in the provision of SWM services.


    Solid waste management is one of the major challenges faced by India, since last two decades with rapid urbanization. The situation is becoming critical when the urban population has grown five-fold during last six decades. The unstructured planning and explosive growth of population in urban slums, peri-urban and suburban areas see the problem beyond control and almost all metro-centers suffer due to poorly rendered services by a system i.e. unscientific, outdated and inefficient; population coverage is low; and the poor are always marginalized. The causes include inadequate collection, poor recycling or treatment and uncontrolled disposal of waste. Solid waste management is one among the basic essential services provided by municipal authorities in the country to keep urban centers clean. But it is a pity that waste is littered all over the place, leading to insanitary living conditions and environment pollution. Municipal laws governing the urban local bodies do not have adequate provisions to deal effectively with the ever-growing problem of solid waste management that becomes the root cause of the dreaded communicable and infectious diseases.


    “Solid Waste” is a term usually applied to a heterogeneous collection of wastes produced in urban areas, the nature of which varies from region to region. The characteristics and quantity of the solid waste generated in a city is not only a function of the living standard and lifestyle of the city's inhabitants, but also of the abundance and type of the city's natural resources. Waste is referred to lack of use or value, which is a byproduct of human activity. Separating the materials in waste will generally increase their value if uses are available for recovered materials; hence the degree of mixing and value is an important property of waste. An efficacious and innovative solid waste management program can be implemented for a reasonable cost. This is an important fact because there are ample known situations, where solid waste management costs in developing countries are high and the level of service low. But, if the underlying reasons for these situations are analyzed, then one can see in many cases that cost-effective waste management systems would result if the identified deficiencies in the systems were remedied.



    Solid waste management refers to the supervised handling of waste material from generation at the source through the recovery processes to disposal.[1]Solid waste management can be further defined according to the process administered and/or carried out by the local government, i.e., collection, transport and disposal.  The associated activities are generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing and disposal of solid wastes.




    Sustainable Solid Waste Management which must be:

    - Economically Affordable

    - Socially Acceptable

    - Environmentally effective


    Integrated Solid Waste Management which achieves environmental and economic benefits in conjunction with societal acceptance is a way forward.  A practical waste management system needs to be developed for smallest possible geographies (keeping in mind the economic viability of the project) where all waste streams – collection, treatment and disposals are combined.


    Market Orientation–The outputs of the project depend on market for them which in turn are almost always sensitive to price and consistency in quality and quantity. An eco-system of secondary material processer will be pre-requisite for sustainability of such initiative.


    Flexibility – An effective intervention needs to be flexible by design to adapt to changing societal and environmental contexts.


    Financing of Project – All beneficiaries of the project be it public, recycling industry of local government should contribute to the initiative. At the same time the system needs to be affordable for all sections of the society.




    The Institute for Global Development (IGD) in association with DLF Foundation has initiated a community based solid waste management pilot program at three locations in two clusters of five villages each in Rural Gurgaon, Haryana in 2013. The initiative has adopted an integrated and innovative approach in implementation of the program with direct people’s participation, which make it so unique in its approach and, hence, being called as Public-Private-People’s Partnership (4Ps) model. The overall objective is to develop a community owned sustainable model, where the private sector can play an important role in construction, operation, and maintenance of treatment and disposal facility; community based organizations (CBOs) can play the role in organizing rag-pickers/waste collectors for door-to-door collection and segregation of waste, creating public awareness for storage of organic and recyclable waste separately at source, and handing over the waste to the waste collector and promoting recycling of waste and decentralized treatment of waste involving community, CBOs, public etc. The Municipal authorities are given the task of a regulatory body to overall monitoring of the system.


    The Public-Private-People’s Partnership (4P) model objectives are as follows:


    1. To develop a self-sustainable, charge-based and community-supported SWM system with an emphasis on recycling and resource recovery
    2. To raise the awareness of environmental protection in the community at large through capacity-building, evidence-generating, learning and documenting, in promotion of energy and organic farming.


    The 4P model has worked through the following seven steps:


    1. Project initiation and baseline assessment comprising resource & social mapping, transect walk, rapid rural appraisal etc.
    2. Pre-feasibility study and analysis
    3. Preliminary project planning and structuring
    4. Preparation of Intervention Protocol & Capacity Building
    5. Bid Process Management and Project Construction
    6. Commencement of project operation
    7. Monitoring, Evaluation & Documentation


    The prime objective of the IGD project was to gain insights into the ‘alternatives’ or ‘innovations’ within the formal and informal solid waste management to reduce waste, in terms of minimizing waste, maximizing re-use and recycling activities, and to promote ecological sustainability models. The comprehensive program includes some or all of the following activities: 


    • Setting policies;
    • Developing and enforcing regulations;
    • Planning and evaluating SWM activities by system designers, users, and other stakeholders;
    • Using waste characterization studies to adjust systems to the types of waste generated;
    • Physically handling waste and recoverable materials, including separation, collection, composting, incineration, and land filling;
    • Marketing recovered materials to brokers or to end-users for industrial, commercial, or small-scale manufacturing purposes;
    • Establishing training programs for community workers;
    • Carrying out public information and education programs;
    • Identifying financial mechanisms and cost recovery systems;
    • Establishing prices for services, and creating incentives;
    • Managing public sector administrative and operations units; and
    • Incorporating private sector businesses, including informal sector collectors, processors, and entrepreneurs.




    • Door to door waste collection
    • Segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes at sources
    • Segregation of non-bio- degradable waste into recyclable waste
    • Treatment of biodegradable waste by bacterial culture for composting. 




    Community ownership is being pushed to make the initiative sustainable and the villagers are being mobilized by organizing various meetings & awareness programs.




    Workers collect the waste by making door to door rounds by a cycle cart where the primary sorting of organic and inorganic waste is carried out in two separate sections of the cart. One supervisor has been appointed to cover specific areas to ensure that daily waste collection was done properly.  He also attends to the residents’ complaints about regular collection. 




    Possible classification of waste:

    - Physical State

    o Solid – Within solid can further be classified on the basis of

    • Original Use – Packaging, Food waste etc.
    • By Material – Glass, paper etc.
    • By Physical Properties – Combustible, Compostable, Recyclable
    • By Safety level – Hazardous & Non-Hazardous

    o Liquid

    o Gaseous

    - Original State

    - Material Type

    - Physical Properties

    - Origin

    - Safety level


    Solid waste of households is segregated into following categories:


    1. Different grades of non-biodegradable recyclable plastic materials.
    2. Non-biodegradable recyclable thick-paper cartons
    3. Non-recyclable inert plastic materials.
    4. Aluminum / metal cans
    5. Biodegradable wastes


    The first four comprise the non-biodegradable type that can be recycled.  The fifth type, i.e. the biodegradable waste can be converted into compost in 40 to 50 days by using cultures. After collecting the waste materials, the hierarchical order in which they are treated include the following:


    • Prevent the production of waste, or reduce the amount generated.
    • Reduce the toxicity or negative impacts of the waste that is generated.
    • Reuse in their current forms the materials recovered from the waste stream. 
    • Recycle, compost, or recover materials for use as direct or indirect inputs to new products.
    • Recover energy by incineration, anaerobic digestion, or similar processes.
    • Reduce the volume of waste prior to disposal.
    • Dispose of residual solid waste in an environmentally sound manner, generally in landfills.




    Since proper waste collection and disposal are necessary to maintain the cleanliness and public health of a community, these services benefit both the generators and the community as a whole. In this context, proper waste collection includes both regular collection service and cleanup of wastes that generators have disposed in an unacceptable manner (i.e. littered).


    How the cost recovered by IGD from SWM – Gurgaon – January 2015 - December 2015















    1. No. of Houses Contributing money













    Amount received













    Sale Proceed from Compost













    Total Amount received














    It may be mentioned that the Solid Waste Management Centre in Darbaripur was functional from the month of April 2015. The Centre was taken over by Municipal Corporation Gurgaon district, Haryana. There has been a steady collection of cash either from household contribution or from selling the non-biodegradable wastes. The month of December show a decline as the population was reluctant to contribute because of impending election. In the end, though, some quantities of waste must be collected and disposed, and this service must be paid for in some manner. Additionally, and depending on local circumstances, other waste management services may require funding in some form, including public education and processing of waste for recovery and reuse of recyclable materials.




    Pressures on government to reduce taxes, while increasing and improving levels of service, are leading to an exploration of privatization as an option for waste management functions. Privatization can take various forms; one of those is the IGD’s 4P model with Public and People’s participation in a big way. Hence, the government can award a contract to a private firm for specified SWM services; it can contract with a private firm to construct a waste management facility, which the firm may subsequently own or operate; it can license a private firm to carry out these activities and recover its costs directly from those served; or it can allow qualified firms to participate in open competition. Certain functions in municipal solid waste lend themselves well to being privatized, while in other cases sound practice will almost always involve government control in monitoring and synergy in operation.


    • The IGD’s 4P model tends to work well in the following areas:


    1. Collection of waste or recyclables -- payment to the private contractor is based either on total waste collected or on number of households in the service area;
    2. Construction of waste facilities;
    3. Operation of transfer stations, compost facilities, incinerators, or landfills under contract to a public-sector entity;
    4. Development of private waste facilities, once the price for land filling has risen to a level where other strategies become cost competitive; and
    5. In circumstances where there is sufficient government infrastructure to manage a competitive bidding process, to contract with the private firm, to monitor its work, and to hold the private firm accountable for adequate performance of tasks.


    • The 4P model of IGD might not work well in these areas: 


    1. In small or sparsely populated areas, since there usually is insufficient earning potential due to low waste volumes;
    2. When the government entity with jurisdiction is too small or too politically weak to be able to manage the contracting processes effectively;
    3. When badly designed; for example, if there is little or no monitoring and enforcement of contract terms; or
    4. As a substitute for government responsibility, such as if private firms were to be hired to monitor compliance with environmental regulations by other private firms.




    The range of issues to be considered in designing a well-functioning SWM system can be overwhelming, even to planners who have considerable resources available. In most of the countries in South and Southeast Asia, where such resources and expertise are scarce, SWM issues are even harder to resolve. Nevertheless, SWM, despite its prominent position as an urban problem, is not the only problem competing for the attention of urban administrative authorities. Its low status as a field of work has meant that SWM issues often receive less attention than other urban problems. The keys to making progress in this field lie in these areas:


    • Responsible planning and design of an integrated SWM system, which works to reduce the quantity of waste generated and to handle waste in a coordinated fashion. Essential to this, is the understanding of the nature of the wastes generated.
    • Adoption of new strategies for revenue generation that move away from sole reliance on a government-owned and -operated SWM system. In many cases, a balanced mix of public and private systems can lead to a waste management system that is more flexible and efficient than a wholly publicly-owned and operated system.
    • Incorporation of small-scale enterprises and the informal sector into the SWM system; and 
    • Installation of a system of accountability and responsibility at the local level. Residents and businesses can be motivated to act responsibly in SWM issues. But, most importantly, accountability entails significantly improving the training and capabilities of the managers and planners responsible for the SWM system.


    The collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of solid wastes, particularly wastes generated in medium and large sized urban centers, have become a relatively difficult problem to solve for those responsible for their management. The problem is even more acute in economically developing countries, where financial, human, and other critical resources generally are scarce. One important contribution to the difficulties related to waste management is that it can be achieved by providing objective, reliable, and useful information to professionals in developing countries like India for its effective and efficient scale-up. The IGD pilot is now ready to be scaled-up in other areas of National Capital Region of Delhi as a social entrepreneurship model that would effectively and efficiently manage the problem of solid waste in urban areas by engaging all types of stakeholders, and more importantly the people at the center of all activities.




    [1]Publication: Glossary of Environment Statistics, Studies in Methods, Series F, No. 67, United Nations, New York, 1997.