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India Should Phase Out Biodegradable Waste Disposal In Landfills To Check Methane Emissions: CSE Report

In its latest report, the Centre for Science and Environment has advocated for robust policies to incentivise waste diversion through source separation and the development of critical infrastructure for biodegradable waste treatment

India Should Phase Out Biodegradable Waste Disposal In Landfills To Check Methane Emissions: CSE Report
Large-scale anaerobic digestion facilities are highlighted as a necessity to keep biodegradable waste out of landfills

New Delhi: India should conduct a nationwide study to accurately estimate methane emissions from legacy waste dumpsites and organic waste processing facilities, and urgently phase out biodegradable waste disposal in landfills, a new report by the Centre for Science and Environment has recommended. The independent think tank’s report, titled “Methane Emissions from Open Dumpsites in India: Estimation and Mitigation Strategies”, also stresses the importance of creating robust markets for reduced-emission products generated from organic waste processing and promoting carbon credits for biomining projects.

Also Read: The Human And Health Cost Of Delhi’s Garbage Mountains And Waste Crisis

A key concern raised in the report is the unreliability and inconsistency of data related to municipal solid waste and methane emissions. To address this issue, the report suggests using the first-order decay (FOD) method, which relies on field data and primary research to more precisely estimate methane emissions from landfill sites.

The CSE said,

A pan-India study needs to be conducted on estimation of methane and other GHGs (greenhouse gases) from each of the legacy waste dumpsites and organic waste processing facilities. There is a lack of data on the quantity of methane originating from the dumpsites and other waste management-related activities.

Creating a system of comprehensive methane measurement and monitoring strategies will enable policymakers and regulators to develop data-driven, science-based targets to reduce methane emissions from the waste sector, especially from dumpsites.

In its report, the environmental think tank has emphasised the need to phase out the disposal of biodegradable waste in landfills and advocated for robust policies to incentivise waste diversion through source separation and the development of critical infrastructure for biodegradable waste treatment.

Large-scale anaerobic digestion facilities are highlighted as a necessity to keep biodegradable waste out of landfills, reducing the burden on downstream mitigation technologies.

Also Read: Garbage Mountains – Dotting The Landscape Of Delhi

The report also highlights the need to promote carbon credits for biomining projects and mandates estimating methane potential from capped landfills and dumpsites.

Currently, there is a lack of monitoring of methane flux from existing landfill facilities and fugitive gas emissions from bio-digesters and biogas storage balloons in biomethanation plants.

The CSE has also advocated for afforestation on reclaimed bioremediated land, emphasising its role as a carbon sequester to mitigate emissions. It said,

Afforestation should be promoted in the reclaimed bioremediated land — recovered after biomining of legacy waste dumpsites. The green cover developed on the reclaimed land will act as a carbon sequester.

According to BUR-3 (third biennial update report) submitted by the Government of India, forest and tree cover sequestered 331 million tonnes of CO2 in 2016, which is around 15 per cent of the total CO2 emissions in the country.

Methane is a potent GHG with a much higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide (CO2). Its atmospheric concentration has more than doubled over the last two centuries primarily due to anthropogenic activities.

Also Read: Only 5 Per Cent Of India’s Coal Power Plants Meet Sulphur Dioxide Emission Norms: Centre For Science And Environment

Methane has a relatively short lifespan — of approximately 12 years — in the atmosphere. However, its global warming potential (GWP) — the ability of the gas to trap heat in the atmosphere — is 25 times more than CO2 and it has been second only to CO2 in causing climate change during the industrial era.

Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions globally, after oil and gas systems and agriculture. Landfill waste management worldwide accounted for an estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2e (CO2 equivalent) in 2016.

According to a report by the World Bank, this number is expected to reach 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2050.

CO2e means the number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

As per India’s third biennial update report (BUR), the country’s methane emissions in 2016 (excluding land use and land-use change and forestry) stood at 409 million tonnes CO2e. Of this, 73.96 per cent came from the agriculture sector, 14.46 per cent from the waste sector, 10.62 per cent from the energy sector and 0.96 per cent from the industrial processes and product use sector.

Also Read: Thermal Power Plants In Delhi-NCR Not Using Biomass To Generate Electricity: CSE Study

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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