Recently radioactive waste from Delhi University found its way to a scrap shop and the owner and some workers got exposed. This week one of them has died. This is not an isolated case, as reports say that recycled steel exported from India has been found to contain traces of Cobalt-60.
The issue is when highly learned scholars and medical practitioners can not be relied to segregate the certified hazardous waste then how do we expect humble housewives and maid servents across the country to segregate nasty banana peel and other food waste (collectively called biodegradable or 'green waste') from the rest of the household waste day-in and day-out ? MSW Rules, 2000 have embraced this paradigm of source segregation, however the reality is far too complex, given vast disparity in socio-economic and educational background as well as the level of awareness and concern. The high profile educated strata of the society is least concerned and for the underprivileged this issue is not on the radar. No wonder efforts to promote 'segregation of domestic waste' at source have failed across the country. Because it is simply not possible to overcome the overwhelming entropy that prevails in the country, look what the DU scholars did - they sold radioactive material along with scrap metal to generate some small money!!! despite stringent regulations.
Let's hope some positive lessons will be drawn from this incident and the ambition of source segregation of household waste and resource recovery from rotting stuff will be toned down. Because like the radioactive waste, MIXED MSW also deserves to be only given a degnified burial in a sanitary landfill. Otherwise like the gama rays that come out of the former, MSW when disposed of openly will continue to release lethal viruses and bacteria and jeopardise public health - yours and mine.
Of course an easier option for domestic kitchen waste is always there - just promote home composting !! That is the most sustainable Earth Friendly practice.