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June 16, 2021
All Articles by: Mr. M. GOVINDARAJAN       View Profile
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Waste refers to lack of use or ‘useless remains’. It is a by-product of human activity. Physically, it contains the same materials as are found in useful products, it only differs from useful production by use of value.

Classification of waste

Waste can be classified into five types of waste which is all commonly found around the house. These include liquid waste, solid rubbish, organic waste, recyclable rubbish and hazardous waste.  Sources of waste can also be broadly classified into four types - Industrial, Commercial, Domestic, and Agricultural.

Waste management

Waste management includes the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process and waste-related laws, technologies, economic mechanisms.  Waste can be solid, liquid, or gaseous and each type has different methods of disposal and management.   Waste management deals with all types of waste, including industrial, biological and household.  Waste management practices are not uniform among countries.

Best Waste Management

The following are the best ways to manage the waste-

  • prevention;
  • reuse;
  • generation;
  • source separation (recyclables and organics);
  • recovery;
  • collection;
  • transfer; and
  • recycling.

Waste Management in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu there are 15 Corporations, 152 Municipalities and 561 Town Panchayats.      For the best implementation of waste Management  the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (‘Board’ for short) was constituted by the Tamil Nadu State Government as per Section 4 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act, 1974.  The Board consists of-

  • a full time Chairman;
  • five officials nominated by the State Government;
  • five persons to represent local authorities,
  • three non-officials to represent the interests of agriculture, fishery or industry or trade,
  • two persons to represent the companies or corporations owned by the State Government; and
  • a full time Member Secretary.

Functions of the Board

The functions of the Board are as follows-

  • To plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control and abatement of water and air pollution;
  • To advise the State Government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • To collect and disseminate information relating to water and air pollution and the prevention, control or abatement thereof; 
  • To inspect sewage and trade effluent treatment plants for their effectiveness and review plans, specifications for corrective measures;
  • To inspect industrial plants or manufacturing process, any control equipment and to give directions to take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution;
  • To inspect air pollution control areas for the purpose of assessment of quality of air therein and to take steps for the prevention, control or abatement of air pollution in such areas;
  • To lay down, modify or annual effluent standards for the sewage and trade effluents and for the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere from any other source;
  • To evolve best economically viable treatment technology for sewage and trade effluents;
  • To collect samples of sewage and trade effluents and emissions of air pollutants and to analyze the same for specific parameters;
  • To collaborate with Central Pollution Control Board in organizing the training of persons engaged or to be engaged in programme relating to prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution and to organise mass education programme relating thereto;
  • To perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the State Government or Central Pollution Control Board.

Bio-medical waste

The expression ‘Bio-medical waste’ is defined in Rule 3(f) of the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 as any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunisation of human beings or animals or research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps, including the categories mentioned in Schedule I appended to these rules.

The bio-medical waste generator and the operator of the common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility (‘CBMWTF’ for short) shall be responsible for safe handling and disposal of the bio-medical waste.    The Board has so far authorized 6261 Private and Government hospitals in the State. All these hospitals have made agreement with the CBMWTF for the collection, transport, treatment and scientific disposal of the biomedical waste. The CBMWTF consists of autoclave, shredder, incinerator and secured land fill facilities. In Tamil Nadu, 11 CBMWTF are under operation. On an average, daily 43 tonnes of bio-medical waste is handled by these facilities. There are 3 such facilities in the Districts of Tiruvallur, Cuddalore and Tiruppur are under establishment.

According to Annual Report of 2019-2020 of the Board-

  • Quantity of Bio-Medical waste generation (in Kg/day)           = 58272
  • Bio-Medical waste generated by bedded hospitals (in Kg/day)       = 49701
  • Bio-Medical waste generated by non bedded hospitals (in Kg/day) =  8571
  • Total number of violations by-
  • Health care facilities by bedded and non bedded hospitals =   350
  • CBMW treatment facilities =       5
  • Show cause notice/direction issued to defaulter-
  • CBMW treatment facilities =       5
  • Others=   342


With the rise in COVID-19 cases, there are concerns about the disposal of huge quantities of biomedical waste.  Last year, the Board released a set of standard operating procedures to be followed by those who test positive.   Biomedical generated from homes and hospitals during COVID-19 Care Centres, must be collected and safely disposed of, in accordance with the protocol, either through incineration or deep burial.  According to a Chennai Corporation, each COVID – 19 patient may generate 1 Kg. of biomedical waste a day.


The term ‘e-waste’ is defined in Rule 3(r)   of the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 as electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes.

Electronic waste or e-waste comprises old, end of life electrical and electronic appliances such as telephones, cellular telephones, computers, laptops, television sets, refrigerators, washing machine, air-conditioners, fluorescent and other mercury containing lamps etc.   The rules apply to every manufacturer, producer, consumer, bulk consumer, collection centres, dealers, e-retailer, refurbisher, dismantler and recycler involved in manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, collection, storage and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment.

The producer of the electrical and electronic equipment shall be responsible for collection and channelization of e-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’ of their products under Extended Producers Responsibility.     Board shall grant and renew authorization to the manufacturers, dismantlers, recyclers and refurbishers.  The Board shall monitor on the compliance of Extended Producer Responsibility by the producer of electrical or electronic equipment for channelization of e-waste to ensure environmentally sound management of such waste.  The Board shall conduct random inspection of dismantler or recycler or refurbisher, maintain online information regarding authorization granted, implementation of programmes to encourage environmentally sound recycling, and action against violations of the rules.  The Board has issued authorization for 24 units (Dismantlers 22, Recyclers 1, Refurbishers 1) 

Summary Statement-Code wise of E-waste collected in the year 2019 - 2020

Electrical and Electronic

Equipment Code

Quantity of E-Waste (Ton/Annum)


  1. Information Technology and Telecommunications equipment

















































  1. Consumer electrical and electronics
















  1. Others (Telecom items & Packing materials)








Hazardous waste

The expression ‘hazardous waste’ is defined in Rule 3(1)(7) of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 as any waste which by reason of characteristics such as physical, chemical, biological, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive, causes danger or is likely to cause danger to health or environment, whether alone or in contact with other wastes or substances, and shall include –

  • waste specified under column (3) of Schedule I;
  • waste having equal to or more than the concentration limits specified for the constituents in class A and class B of Schedule II or any of the characteristics as specified in class C of Schedule II; and
  • wastes specified in Part A of Schedule III in respect of import or export of such wastes or the wastes not specified in Part A but exhibit hazardous characteristics specified in Part C of Schedule III.

The hazardous waste generator shall follow the steps namely prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, recovery, utilization including co-processing and safe disposal of hazardous waste. SPCB shall grant authorization for handling the hazardous wastes.   The Board has identified 3961 units generating hazardous wastes and issued authorization under the rules. In Tamil Nadu about 10.59 lakhs tons of hazardous waste is annually generated in which 0.77 lakhs tones is landfillable, 1.19 lakhs tones is recyclable, 8.38 lakhs tones is utilizable and 0.25 lakhs tones is incinerable. The Board is taking effective steps in handling and management of hazardous wastes, its treatment and disposal in an environmentally safe manner.

The Board has taken pioneering efforts to utilize the hazardous waste generated from Common Effluent Treatment Plants (‘CETPs’ for short) of textile processing units as fuel/raw material for co-processing in the cement factories. So far, about 1.55 lakhs Tonnes of ETP sludge have been disposed to various Cement industries for co-processing. Similar trails are being taken-up for using hazardous waste generated from tannery CETPs in co-processing in the cement industries. Two hazardous waste pre-processing facilities are functioning in Tamil Nadu, one at Ranipet District and another at Villupuram District. These two facilities pre-process the hazardous wastes so as to use as alternate fuel for co-incineration in cement kiln. For scientific disposal of hazardous wastes, two common hazardous waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (‘TSDFs’ for short) are in operation, one TSDF at SIPCOT Industrial Estate, Gummidipoondi, Tiruvallur Districts and another TSDF at Unduorumikidakulam village in Virudhunagar District

Solid waste

The expression ‘solid waste’ is defined in Rule 3(1)(46) as and including solid or semi-solid domestic waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering and market waste and other non residential wastes, street sweepings, silt removed or collected from the surface drains, horticulture waste, agriculture and dairy waste, treated bio-medical waste excluding industrial waste, bio-medical waste and e-waste, battery waste, radio-active waste generated in the area under the local authorities and other entities mentioned in rule 2.

The Board is the monitoring authority under the said rules and is responsible for granting authorization to local bodies for processing and disposal of solid waste.

In total the solid waste generation is 14,600 tonnes per day.   The Greater Chennai Corporation generates 5000 tonnes per day, 11 Corporation and all Municipalities generate about 7600 tonnes per day and all the town panchayat generates 2000 tonnes per day. The Board is advocating the concept of waste segregation at source, waste reduction, recycle and reuse to avoid any environmental issues during handling.

According to the Annual report 2019 – 2020 of the Board-

  • Solid waste generation in Tamil Nadu = 14228 tonnes per day
  • Collected = 13955 tonnes per day
  • Treated =   6650 tonnes per day
  • Land filled =   6765 tonnes per day

In Tamil Nadu various waste processing facilities like window composting, vermin composting, Micro Compost Centres, Onsite Composting and Bio Methanation are followed.

The Board has issued directions under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 to five urban local bodies based on complaints, press news, field inspections by DEEs etc.

Plastic waste

The expression ‘plastic waste’ is any plastic discarded after use or after its intended use is over.  The local body shall be responsible for the development and setting up of infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of the plastic waste.

In Tamil Nadu plastic waste generation is around 4,31,472 tonnes/annum (1082 tonnes/day) out of which 409114 tonnes is collected and segregated by the respective urban bodies.  The recyclable plastic wastes of 268575 are channelized for recycling.  46032 tons are utilized for coincineration of cement plant (non recyclable plastic waste) and for road laying (low value plastics) and the remaining inert were are disposed for landfall.

Disposal of plastic wastes

  • Recycling of plastic waste – The recyclable plastic wastes were sold to recyclers directly by the waster collectors and share the costs among themselves as incentives.  By this way 345543MT of recyclable waste were sold and ₹ 88.98 crores distributed to sanitary workers for the period from August 2017 to March 2020 in 14 corporations and 121 municipalities.
  • Plastic road used for road laying – The segregated plastic waste is grinded in shedder machine which are mixed with aggregates in non bituminous road laying.  About 4375 of non saleable and  non recyclable plastic waste were used for laying of 3646 kms of roads in the last four years.
  • Disposed to cement industries for co-processing – About 20776 tonnes of non recyclables were disposed to cement industries from May 2018 onwards.

Material Recovery Facility (‘MRF’ for short) is established to store and periodically dispose the segregated plastic wastes.  Chennai Corporation has established 110 MRFs

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has carried out the initiatives by all means for awareness creation among the concerned stakeholders and public and for the effective implementation of the ban.  Closure direction and disconnection of power supply were issued to 63 industries involved in the manufacturing of banned plastic manufacturing items which include non woven carry bags, plastic carry bags, water pouches etc. from 01.01.2019 onwards.  Closure directions were issued to 57 numbers of banned plastic manufacturing industries.  Show cause notices were issued to outlets, hotels, restaurants etc. who are using use and throwaway banned plastics.


Vide G.O.Ms.No.40 of Municipal Administration & Water Supply Department, dated 28.02.2019, the following rate of fine is imposed against violators-

Sl. No.


1st time offence

2nd time offence

3rd time offence


Storage, supply, transport, sale and distribution of use and throwaway pleastics

₹ 25000/-

₹ 50000/-

₹ 100000/-


Use and distribution of use and throwaway plastics in large commercial establishments like malls, textile shops and super markets

₹ 10000/-

₹ 15000/-

₹ 25000/-


Use and distribution of use and throwaway plastics in medium commercial establishments like grocery shops and pharmaceutical shops

₹ 1000/-

₹ 2000/-

₹ 5000/-


Use and distribution of use and throwaway plastics in small commercial vendors

₹ 100/-

₹ 200/-

₹ 500/-

Source: A Pictorial Handbook on Banned use and Throwaway of plastics & its alternatives of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.


The Tamil Nadu Government has taken effective steps in managing the environment pollution including waste management.  Despite the best efforts taken by the Tamil Nadu Government in clearing wastes, still the problems exist in most of the parts of the Tamil Nadu.  The people in Tamil Nadu should give their helping hands to the Government to keep the places waste free.  The same is the position to all other States also.


  4. Annual report 2019 – 20 of TNPCB


By: Mr. M. GOVINDARAJAN - June 16, 2021


Discussions to this article


Dear Sir,

We are amazed with your knowledge and the way you present complicated matters in lucid language for our benefits.



Dated: 16/06/2021

Your words give encouragement to me. Thank you.

Dated: 16/06/2021


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