Rethinking urban waste management in India

  • Published 05/05/15

Download the briefing (PDF 533kb)

New thinking, practice and policy recommendations for sustainable urban waste management informed by robust research, addressing both environmental and social justice concerns.

Patterns of urban consumption, and the waste generated, have changed rapidly. We now require sustainable urban waste management solutions which will simultaneously address environmental and social challenges, embrace opportunities to reuse and recycle, engage with citizens and be responsive to changing circumstances.

Current waste management plans are created on the basis of a standardized model of flows of waste in Indian cities. This model fails to accurately reflect the situation on the ground in a number of important ways. As a result, attempts to address threats to the environment, health and livelihoods of local residents are being threatened, and opportunities for innovative solutions are being overlooked.

Our analysis is based on many years of engagement with waste management stakeholders by Delihi-based NGO Toxic Links and on exhaustive research carried our from 2011 – 2015 with the STEPS Centre and the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Fieldwork was carried out in Delji, Ahmedabad and Pune.

We propose eight basic guiding principles – set out in this briefing – for the establishment of an alternative approach to urban solid waste management, forming the basis of sustainable waste man ageement solutions.