Tarun Datta, Director, Nish Earthmovers
Among different industries, the construction equipment industry (CE) attracts the most attention and plays a critical role in the circular economy transition because of its significant resource intensity. However, the industry is limited due to its unique industrial characteristics and the complex nature of construction.
To tackle the challenges, Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) are recognised as promising solutions since they provide potential support to CE-oriented decision-making. However, the effectiveness and challenges of applying ICT to a broader decision-making context to implement it in the built environment remain unexplored.
Ways to reuse wasteWaste materials are currently being used for the development of civil infrastructures. For example, the rubber produced from end-of-life tyres has been applied in concrete and road constructions as aggregates in asphalt mix.
Legacy Waste is being segregated into three fractions: Inert (Soil), C&D, and RDF (Plastic/Cloth). RDF (Refused Derived Fuel) is being used for Waste to Energy Plants, Cement Plants for usage of coal reduction and shredding into 50 mm for fuel purpose.
The NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) is using Inert (Soil) for the base of roads as it is very compact. It is also used in filling low-lying areas. C&D waste is being used in crushers for getting segregated material that is re-used in the construction of new buildings.
Waste as construction materialThe world is moving towards a circular economy that focuses on reducing wastes and keeping materials in use for the longest time possible. Our main concern revolves around three of the largest volume of landfill waste materials (tyres, plastics, and glass) that are becoming a major concern for our country.
At present, crumb rubbers (from tyres) and glass sands (from crushed waste glass) are being used in concrete and road constructions while plastics are often used in manufacturing civil structures. The massive volume of remaining unused wastes goes to landfill creating environmental problems. Therefore, finding new strategies of utilising these landfill wastes is vital.
There are several types of waste which can be recycled to achieve substantial resource savings. As an example, one ton of natural resources can be saved from every ton of glass recycled, including sand and soda ash. In other words, one ton of recycled glass saves 19 litres, 42 Kwh of energy, 3.4 kg of air pollutants from being released, and 1.5 cubic meters of landfill space. Preventing the burning of one ton of waste tyres can save the environment from releasing 450 kg of toxic gases.
Adopting technology for effective waste managementAs the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan movement swept the nation, India uncovered its path to a cleaner, and more sustainable future. In addition to providing a conducive policy framework and promoting responsible behavior, technological advancement is an important factor that can drive effective waste management in India.
The use of emerging technologies such as automatic waste segregator, onsite waste processing like Composting/Biomethanation/Bio CNG, Gasifiers/Pyrolysis, etc. can transform the current waste management scenario in India. These landfill diverted wastes have shown great promise as construction materials and their future development should be encouraged.
Role of informal sector in waste managementDespite the lack of proper legal and financial support by public agencies, the informal sector has a firm standing and gives an invaluable service to a large section of the society in relation to waste management. There is an urgent need to understand the vital role of this informal sector engaged in municipal solid waste management, study their socio-economic conditions, and integrate them with the formal sector to achieve sustainable solid waste management on one hand and improve their living conditions on the other.
The government is boosting its various departments like Development Authorities, NHAI, Jal Board, etc. to utilize the soil which is being segregated at various landfills in India. The government had also issued a guideline that if a company is producing plastic, then it will have to utilize the same amount of plastic in the form of MLP (Multi Layered Plastic) through EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).