Solid Waste Management – A PPP Opportunity?

Meena Gupta, a secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, claims that the Indian government will soon add amendments to municipal solid waste management regulations, and highlighted the private sector’s role in exploring new projects. Merinews, a citizen journalism news portal, quoted Ms. Gupta as saying:

sustainable waste management could materialise only if service delivery was linked to private sector participation. “It is imperative that the private sector comes forward and enables the public sector stakeholders to devise appropriate frameworks that result in a win-win for both sides,” she said, adding that the private sector could also play an important role in building the capacities of municipal bodies. The municipalities, on their part, need to provide guidance for the selection of appropriate technologies.

Solid waste management, along with recycling, presents plenty of opportunities for partnerships. For example, EXNORA is an NGO in Chennai that focuses on the environment through their SoWAM program, which works in muncipalities throughout Tamil Nadu. An India Together article also provides a good background into the various policies in place, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of private sector participation.

Risks of private sector involvement may include a lack of transparency, a commercial failure that would then lead to disturbance of public services, or low cooperation between stakeholders. A World Bank presentation offers different options for contracting mechanisms and other processes to offset these potential risks, and Vinay previously discussed a primer on PPPs.

The opportunity is there, but is it best for the private sector to get involved in offering what can be considered an essential public good? And do the benefits really outweigh the risks?


8 Responses

  1. As a private player we are also in solid waste management with a heritage town of West Bengal.The total generation of waste is 46tons/day.Within a span of two years,we succesfully sensitized residents for segration at source and not littering in open areas.Now the city is really becomming clean and people are participating in the movement.We collect wet wastes everymorning and dry wastes weekly.Windrow composting is in process and dry wastes are being recycled.We need more suggetions and advice in this regard.

  2. Partho, it’s great to hear of a success story and sounds like the model is working well if you were to establish the process in two years. Do you also partner with any government agencies or community based organizations?

  3. Funny you come up with this question and funnier still mention an article on India Together. I read another related article titled Burning biomass is not green – II

    and sent the author an e- mail asking, guess what?, precisely the same question. Here is the conversation

    [Badhri] How effective are the public-private partnerships? I remember that chennai corporation and French conglomerate Onyx partnered for garbage collection. But I don’t know how effective it is (was) Can you throw some light on status of partnerships in general?

    [Gopal Krishna] The Corporation paid about Rs. 4 crore a month by charging Rs 1,212 per tonne for garbage clearance. There were complaints against the company. In any case the company was simply collecting garbage and dumping it on the dumpsites. There is no engineering miracle in collecting and dumping waste..the lesson from Suryapet [where wastes are source segregated, collected and either composted or recycled with the aim of zero wastes] is loud and clear. There is no alternative to community based waste management that aims for Zero Waste.

    The explanation is very detailed. The answer that I inferred is….the way forward is waste management, if the municipal authorities get the private companies (like onyx) to composting and reclycling wastes rather than just dumping, why not PPP?

    If Partho can provide a web link to his private organization, it would be useful.

  4. Here is a link that may help for the common man to do his bit

  5. The political will is the first priority.Govt. bodies and municipalities give priority to present problems which they face but do not think for future problems due to environmental decay.Their view is that, they will solve problems when they will face it but not now.Because doing something for environment does not provide political gains or assure next time seat. How can we change this mentality?It took two years time to change people towards not littering.I believe there should be a positive approach for a long time planning and implementation.Municipalities got funds for waste management and they started purchasing equipments first and does not know what to do the next and sitting idle.

  6. […] waste management system (an issue we’ve covered here and here) in Maharastra shows a PPP at work – a privatized system in a city named Latur requires […]

  7. municipal solid waste management & handling rules 2000 applies to every authority responsible for collection, segregation, storage, transportation, & disposal of msw hope it does well.

  8. Risks??Risks that you’re talking about are just manifestation of ineffective government. There is nothing wrong with involving private and engaging them in the delivery of the so-called “public goods”.
    Cleanliness of environment is everybody’s concern. If one city or town is to employ such scheme, make sure that they have established a definite management or policy framework and strictly enforce it so as to mitigate if not control those risks.

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