Waste is one of the major global problems of our times. Increasing waste has caused tremendous environmental damage already across all the 3 key dimensions of our planet – Air, Water and Soil. And damage is well evident in all the domains of environment. Monetary wise also waste has taken a toll on our system.
In a country like India, the problem of waste is not just the increasing amount of waste but it is also about disappearing areas for landfills. We have already exhausted the existing landfill options in most cities and towns today and finding an alternative site for waste dumping is not feasible anymore. None is willing to take the burden of someone else’s waste and it is not expected also.
Thus innovative approaches towards managing our waste effectively and sustainably (on financial terms) have been doing the rounds of late. It is the need of the hour and also an opportune moment to look at waste management more holistically to work towards a zero-waste society. To discuss more about innovative solution to this massive environmental concern, Global Foundation and CHINAR hosted this web-dialogue with a group of highly acclaimed experts and practitioners deliberated during the session. The session was moderated by Dr Pradeep Mehta and Dr Pranab J Patar.
The panelists were:
- Prof. Nanda Gopal Sahoo– an expert on nano-materials development, is the In-Charge of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Centre, Department of Chemistry – Kumaun University, Nainital.
- Ms Gayitri Handanahal– Founder of Waste Impact – a specialized organization looking at waste management solutions. She is also the Lead Organiser of the Reimagine Waste – the famed hackathon series promoting out of the box technology-based solutions to waste management.
- Dr. Sunil Kumar- Head, Technology Development Centre and Principal Scientist at the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division at the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI), Nagpur.
- Dr Anwesha Borthakur- a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium.
Professor Sahoo, spoke about his award-winning invention, the nano particle developed from plastic waste – graphene. He explained, how this could bring a ray of hope in addressing plastic waste menace, the world is facing today as graphene has huge material value and is likely to open up a variety of possibilities. While explaining the process of graphene development, he also said graphene can be produced even from agriculture waste.
While talking at the web-dialogue, Ms Gayitri shared the innovative measures they have put in by organizing Reimagine Waste Hackathons to promote out of the box innovations and incubate tech-based solutions to address waste management challenges. She mentioned, this is a first-of-its-kind hackathon that deals with waste management. In her message to the young and aspiring entrepreneurs, she said, setting up anything new is never easy. Particularly in the waste management sector, the entrepreneurs will require to put in extra effort to steer through the red-tapism that exist in our system.
Dr Kumar spoke about the challenges of landfill management and also advocated for decentralized management of wastes for an effective and quicker resolve to this growing menace. He mentioned about the regulatory provisions that is making it mandatory for the polluter/waste generator specially industries and townships to just manage their waste on their own and within their premises and he reiterated that it is a mandatory requisite for the smart city concept.
Dr Anwesha highlighted that electronic waste continues to be a mystery for the masses as it is relatively a new segment in the solid waste stream. While expressing her concern about the increasing trend of impulsive buying and replacing our electronic gadgets rather too quickly as they appear to have become obsolete and new products are made available in the market at a very competitive price in the name of festive offers etc and that has actually spiked the rate of e-waste generation. Through her session, Dr Anwesha has appealed to us to become wiser in our buying habits and discard the electronic gadgets only when it’s absolutely necessary.