International Day of Zero Waste 2023

International Day of Zero Waste 2023

News: Recently, ‘Swachhotsav - 2023: Rally for Garbage Free Cities’ was held in New Delhi as part of India’s celebration of the International Day of Zero Waste 2023.

 The International Day of Zero Waste, observed for the first time on 30 March 2023 and is jointly facilitated by UNEP and UN-Habitat.
 In this context, we will discuss about achievements of India’s Swacch Bharat Mission, challenges and a way forward.

Objectives of International Day of Zero Waste:
 It aims to raise awareness of the importance of zero waste and responsible consumption and production practices and urban waste management contributing to achieving sustainable development.
 The day calls on rethinking our practices and for embracing a circular economy as a key for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution, and putting the planet, and humanity, on a path to health and prosperity.

Important achievements of Swachh Bharat Mission across different sectors:

Open Defecation Free
 Urban India has become Open Defecation Free (ODF), with all 4,715 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) completely ODF.
 3,547 ULBs are ODF+ with functional and hygienic community and public toilets, and 1,191 ULBs are ODF++ with complete faecal sludge management.

Waste processing
 Waste Processing in India has gone up by over 4 times from 17% in 2014 to 75% in 2023.

Garbage Free Cities
 The Garbage Free Cities (GFC)-Star rating protocol launched in January 2018 has increased from only 56 cities in the first year to 445 cities till date, with an ambitious target of having at least 1,000 3-star GFC by October 2024.
 The 2023-24 budget has reinforced India's commitment to building a circular economy through an enhanced focus on scientific management of dry and wet waste.
 The Rally for Garbage Free Cities is a women-led Jan Andolan, where lakhs of citizens have taken on the responsibility of cleaning their streets, neighbourhoods, and parks.

‘Stories of Change’ Compendium
 The 'Stories of Change' Compendium captures some of the amazing on-ground successes of more than 300 women Self-Help Group members who have travelled across cities to learn various waste management models.
 4 lakh women are directly engaged in sanitation and waste management as an enterprise in urban India, providing dignity and livelihood opportunities for women.

 India has a shortage of infrastructure and resources to manage waste effectively. Many cities lack adequate landfill sites, waste processing facilities, and waste collection systems.
 The rise of online retail and food delivery apps, though restricted to cities has significantly contributed to the rise in plastic waste.
 India lacks time series data or panel data in connection with solid or liquid waste. So it is very difficult for the waste planners of the country to analyse the economy of waste management.

Way Forward
 Composting centres can be established in cities to reuse organic waste, which will enhance soil carbon content and eliminate the need for chemical fertilisers. Compost will also help in carbon dioxide sequestration by storing carbon back into the soil.
 There is a need to devise the mechanism for Extended Producer Responsibility in India to ensure that product manufacturers are made financially responsible for various parts of the life cycle of their products.
 Give necessary importance to waste pickers, provide them incentives on achieving tangible targets, take steps to educate public about social inclusion of waste pickers.

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