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Urban Wastes in India

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The proliferation of urban waste has direct impacts on sanitation in India. With crowded cities and significant poverty, millions of people in Indian cities are directly exposed to the harmful effects of all urban waste, especially from fecal and sewage sludge from rivers and lakes. The economic costs of these harmful effects are indeed dire.

(a)    Municipal Solid Waste

(b)   Sewage

(c)    Fecal Sludge

  • Paper, Glass, Metals
  • Synthetic polymers (cables, wires, toys and plastic goods)
  • Inerts (stones, sand , pebbles etc),
  • Hides and leather discards
  • Pharmaceutical wastes (tablets, ointments, lotion etc),
  • Kitchen wastes (Fruit and vegetable peels, raw and processed food ingredients)
  • Bulk excretory matters (Feces and urine)
  • Body wastes (Sweat, oil, nails, dead tissue, saliva, tears and hairs etc)
  • Laundry wastes (Detergent and soap precipitates)

Sludge removed from all kind of on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks (settled solids, scum and liquid), bucket latrines, pit latrines etc.



Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is more commonly known as trash or garbage. MSW includes   commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes but including treated bio-medical wastes.  It consists of household waste, wastes from hotels and restaurants, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue, and waste from streets.

Sewage and Sewage Sludge

Sewage is defined as untreated municipal liquid waste requiring treatment in a sewage treatment plant. Sewage contains about 99.9% of water, while the remaining content may be organic or inorganic. Sewage denotes both black water and grey water at the household level, where black water refers to waste water generated in toilets and grey water to the waste water generated in kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

Sewage sludge is the semi-solid precipitate produced in wastewater treatment plants. Such sludge can also occur in untreated sewage disposed off into lakes and other water bodies.  Sewage sludge generation in India is increasing at a faster rate as more and more sewage treatment plants (STP) are being developed. Sewage sludge and effluents from these STPs are frequently disposed off on agricultural lands for irrigation/manure purposes.

Fecal Sludge

Sludge of variable consistency collected from so-called on-site sanitation systems, such as latrines, non-sewered public toilets, septic tanks and aqua privies is denoted as fecal sludge. The fecal sludge comprises varying concentrations of settleable or settled solids as well as of other, non-fecal matter. Fecal sludge from septic tanks which consists of settled solids, scum and liquid is termed as Septage.


Classification of Waste

Urban Waste

Municipal Solid Waste


Fecal Sludge

Industrial Waste


India Waste to Energy