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The Ruhr: built on energy

RecShow '08

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Recycling of Municipal Solid Waste in a Medium Size
Indian Town: Practice, Market and Economics

Eng. Nadeem Khalil
Department of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi 110016 India
Department of Civil Engineering, Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh 202002 UP India
Email:Nadeem.Khalil [at], nadeemkhalil [at]

Dr. Atul Kumar Mittal
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi,
New Delhi 110016 India
Email: akmittal [at]

This paper discusses the outcome of the study that was carried out with an objective to investigate the municipal solid waste management system of a medium size Indian town with special focus on recycling and reuse practices, which is presented here. For this work, Aligarh city, which has a population of about 0.7 million, situated 120 km southeast to the capital of India, Delhi was selected. The work covered extensive study on waste management system and its trade. Field surveys, interviews and existing data helped in investigating the waste trade of this city and in evaluating the market mechanism and economics of this informal sector. Based on the study, it has been found that about 30% of total solid waste being generated goes to the recycling units in the city. Recycling is being done mainly for glass, metal, paper and plastic. Aligarh has about 78 different recycling units, which recycle 500 to 650 tones per day. Of that amount, 70 to 80 tones per day of recovered materials come from Aligarh while the rest from adjoining cities. The informal sector plays a very important role in the recycling of municipal solid waste management. Most of the recyclable materials are segregated from other waste by the rag pickers and sold to middlemen or informal agencies. About 10800 people are employed in different recycling units. Study further revealed that about 700 rag pickers (children, men and women) are active in the area of Aligarh Municipal Corporation. These rag pickers, nowadays commonly called ‘recyclists’, picks up about 35 to 40 kg of waste on daily basis and earn Rs. 75 to Rs. 90 a day which is almost half the salary of the daily wager employee and just sufficient for their livelihood. The value addition of each product from waste is done at every step of its processing. Metal waste is converted into bars and rods, which then are used for small construction works. Kraft paper produced from waste paper is used for packaging etc. Similarly other materials are utilized for beneficial market. It could be concluded that informal recycling industry not only has good market and associated economy but contributing to waste volume reduction, collection, and daily living of recyclists. It is possible to organize the sector, but this may leave to unemployment and daily living to recyclists who belong to the poorest strata of the society. The work also probes some other important aspects of recyclists such as their health, social issues, education etc. 

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