Solid Waste Management Rules
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This article is written by Ridhima Purwar who is currently pursuing BBA LL.B from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article talks about the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Table of Contents


The Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 were notified in the year 2000 and came into force on September 25, 2000. However, post the suggestions of the public, the set of rules were updated in the areas of plastic, e-waste, biomedical, hazardous and construction and demolition waste management rules. Later the Government notified Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 in the year 2016.

The new set of rules are now not only applicable in Municipal Areas but have also included urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, and also areas which fall under the control and direction of Indian Railways, Airports, Special economic zones, Places of Pilgrimage, Religious and Historical importance, and Organisations under the conduct of State and Central Government.

Waste and its management 

The Municipal Solid Waste comprises household waste, Commercial and Institutional waste, Marketing and Catering waste, Street sweepings and silt from Drains, Horticulture and dairy waste, Slaughterhouse waste, and Treated Biomedical Waste. (The Construction and Demolition waste is no longer a part of municipal solid waste. Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016, Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, E-Waste Management Rules 2016, Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016, and Hazardous and Other Waste Management Rules, 2016 are separately notified). It may be further categorised through three ways- 

  • Emergence 
  • Contents 
  • Hazard potential 

Solid Waste Management reduces or eliminates its hostile impact on the environment & human health. It’s poor management causes Air pollution, Water and Soil contamination. This is the reason why a municipality includes a number of processes for effective waste management i.e. monitoring, collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal of waste. The amount of waste generated in the area depends on various factors like different lifestyles of the people. However, the two overwhelming challenges facing urban local governments in putting an effective solid waste management system in place are: 

  • Environmental sustainability, and 
  • Financial sustainability.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Important Terms 

  1. “Biodegradable waste” – means any organic material that can be degraded into simpler stable compounds by microorganisms.
  2. “Bio-methanation” – means a process which involves the organic matter to go under enzymatic decomposition by microbial action to produce methane.
  3. “Combustible waste” – means a composition of non-biodegradable, non-recyclable, non-hazardous solid waste with a high calorific value of over 1500 kcal/kg, except plastic chlorinated materials and wood pulp, etc.
  4. “Composting” – means a scientific process involving microbial decomposition of organic matter. 
  5. “Disposal” – means the disposal of post-processed residual solid waste and collected street sweepings and silt from the surface of drains to prevent contamination of groundwater, unpleasant odour and attraction of stray animals or birds. 
  6. “Domestic Hazardous waste” – means the remaining household products which given under certain circumstances can catch fire, react or explode, or are corrosive or toxic in nature.
  7. “Inerts” – means wastes which are not biodegradable, recyclable or combustible in nature like dust and silt removed from the surface drains or street sweeping.
  8. “Leachate” – means the solvent that trickles from the solid waste medium and has absorbed or contains dissolved products. 
  9. “Material recovery facility” – means a facility in which non-compostable solid waste may be deposited temporarily by a municipal agency in order to facilitate the aggregation, storage, and recycling, through waste recyclers, or by some other local body prior to collection of waste for its processing or disposal.
  10. “Non-biodegradable waste” – means any waste which can not be converted to simpler stable compounds by microorganisms.
  11. “Recycling” – means a process of collecting and processing by which one can transform their old goods or the solid waste into a new product for use or raw material for the building of other goods or products.
  12. “Refuse derived fuel” – means fuel generated from fractions of solid waste such as plastic, wood, pulp or organic waste, rather than chlorinated products, in the form of pellets or fluff formed by drying, shredding, dehydrating and compacting solid waste.
  13. “Sanitary landfilling” – means that the safe and final disposal of the residual solid and inert wastes on land in a facility which is specially built with protective measures against contamination of groundwater, surface water and dust, wind-blown litter etc. 
  14. “Segregation” – means the collection and separate handling of different components of solid biodegradable waste, including agricultural and dairy waste; non-biodegradable waste, including recyclable waste, non-recyclable fuel waste, sanitary waste and non-recyclable toxic waste, household hazardous waste, and building and demolition waste.
  15. “Solid waste” – means and involves solid or semi-solid waste, sanitary waste, industrial waste, administrative waste, hospitality and agricultural waste and other non-residential pollutants, street sweepings, surface water sludge, greenhouse waste, farm and livestock waste, municipal hazardous waste and other bodies.
  16. “Vermicomposting” – means the process of conversion from with compost is obtained by earthworms out of biodegradable waste. 
  17. “Waste Generator” – means and includes all persons or groups, on residential and non-residential premises, including Indian Railways, defence facilities which produce solid waste.
  18. “Waste Hierarchy” – means the priority order of management of solid waste by emphasizing prevention, reduction, reusability, recycling, recycling and waste disposal, prevention as the preferred choice, and its disposal at the landfills as the least possible.
  19. “Waste Picker” – means an individual or groups informally engaged in the recovery of recycled and recyclable solid waste from waste streams, street bins, recycling facilities and recycling facilities for recyclers to gain their livelihood directly or by an intermediary.

Duties of Waste Generators 

  1. Each waste generator shall separate the waste that is generated and store it in three different parts which are biodegradable, non-biodegradable and household hazardous waste and store it differently. Subsequently, the collected waste shall be passed to the approved rag pickers or collectors.
  2. The sanitary waste used, for example, diapers, sanitary pads etc., shall be securely wrapped in pouches provided or in a suitable wrapping material by the manufacturers of these items and placed in the bins intended for dry or non-biodegradable wastes.
  3. Construction and demolition waste shall be treated separately and disposed of according to the Waste Management Rules 2016 for Building and Demolition. 
  4. The waste generated from the premises through horticulture or garden shall be stored separately and be disposed of as per the Rules. 
  5. The practice of burying, burning or throwing the solid waste generated by the individual in open public areas, on streets, drains or water bodies shall be stopped immediately. 
  6. As per the laws of the local authorities, the waste generators shall pay a fee for solid waste management. 
  7. Under no circumstances until the permission given by the local authority no event or gathering of more than 100 people shall be made at any unlicensed place and a permit should be taken at least three working days prior to the event. The segregation of the waste and handling of it over to the waste collector shall be monitored by the organiser. 
  8. Storage containers shall be kept by all the street vendors for keeping the waste generated such as food waste, disposable plates, cups, cans, wrappers, coconut shells, leftover food, vegetables, fruits etc. and shall be disposed of properly. 

Duties of Ministry of Urban Development

National Policies and Strategies on Solid Waste Management including the policies on Waste to Energy shall be made. Promotion of research and development, technical guidelines and project finance shall be and reviewal of the measures taken by the States shall be done by the ministry.

Duties of Department of Fertilisers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

The Ministry shall provide market development assistance on the city compost and promote co‐marketing of compost with chemical fertilizers bags by the fertilizer companies.

Duties of Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India 

The Ministry shall provide leniency in the Fertiliser Control Order for the production and sale of compost and shall promote its use of compost on agricultural land. They shall set up laboratories for testing the quality of compost produced by local authorities.

Duties of the Ministry of Power

The Ministry shall decide the charge of energy generated from waste to energy plants from the solid waste and ensure the mandatory purchase of energy generated from such waste to energy plants by DISCOMs.

Duties of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources 

The Ministry of New Renewable Energy Sources shall facilitate the creation of infrastructure for waste to energy plants and provide necessary incentives for such energy plants. 

Duties of the Secretary–in­charge, Urban Development in the States and Union Territories and of Village Panchayats or Rural Development Department in the State and Union Territory 

  1. All of them shall come together within a year to frame a state policy on solid waste management.
  2. They shall make a plan to identify and allocate suitable land for setting up the processing and disposal facilities for solid wastes within one year and start incorporating them. 
  3. Separate areas shall be reserved for segregation, storage and decentralized treatment of solid waste as specified in the development plan for group housing or industrial, institutional or any other non-residential complex of more than 200 dwellings or having a plot area of more than 5,000 square metres. 
  4. They shall ensure that the developers of the Special Economic Zone, Industrial Estate, Industrial Park have at least 5 percent of the total area of the plot or at least 5 plots/holes for recovery and recycling facilities. 
  5. Notifications shall be given to the buffer zone for solid waste treatment and disposal facilities of more than 5 tons per day in consultation with the State Pollution Control Board and a framework for the registration of waste pickers and waste dealers shall be created. 

Duties of the Central Pollution Control Board 

  1. The coordination between the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards shall be maintained for the enactment of these rules and adherence to the standards prescribed by the ground authorities. Also, the formulation and review of the standards for groundwater, air, noise pollution, in respect of all solid waste processing and disposal facilities shall be done.
  2. The proposals given by the state pollution control boards or pollution control committees on the use of any new technologies for processing, recycling and treatment of solid waste shall be reviewed. 
  3. Preparation of an Annual Report on the enactment of these rules and submission of it to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shall be done and the report shall also be put in the public domain. 
  4. Publish guidelines for the management of buffer zones that exclude any residential, industrial or other building operation from the outer boundary of waste treatment and disposal facilities for various facilities handling more than 5 tons of solid waste each day.
  5. The publication of guidelines on the environmental aspects of the treatment and disposal of solid waste shall take place from time to time in order to enable local authorities to abide by the terms of the law and to provide assistance to States or Union Territories on the interstate movement of waste.

Duties and Responsibilities of local authorities and village Panchayats of census towns and urban agglomerations

  1. Within six months, local authorities must draw up a comprehensive waste management strategy according to State policy.
  2. Collection of segregated waste from door to door shall be arranged. 
  3. Within one year a user fee shall be prescribed to the waste generators and appropriate by laws for incorporating these rules shall also be created.
  4. Guide waste generators to not dispense and separate waste at source and pass on separated waste to approved waste recyclers from the local authorities.
  5. Create material recovery plants or secondary storage plants and provide easy access for the collection of recycled waste to waste pickers and recyclers.
  6. Establish safe waste storage and transportation facilities for household hazardous waste to the hazardous wastes disposal facility.
  7. Instruct road sweepers not to burn tree leaves gathered from street debris and store them individually and later, pass them to the waste collectors or to the local authority appointed agent.
  8. Train waste collectors and waste collectors in solid waste management.
  9. Promote the establishments in suitable locations on the markets, or near the markets, for decentralized compost plant or biomethanation plant, ensuring sanitary conditions.
  10. Collect waste separately, depending on the populations, businesses, and locations, by streets, paths and by-lanes daily or in alternative days or twice a week.
  11. Collect horticulture, gardening and parks waste separately and process as much as possible in parks and gardens itself. 
  12. Transportation of separated bio-degradable waste to processing plants such as compost, bio-methane plant, or any other faculty shall be done.
  13. Non-bio-degradable waste should be transported to their respective processing facilities or material recycling (MRF) or secondary storage facilities.
  14. According to the provisions present in the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016, the transportation of the waste generated at these sites shall be made.
  15. Initiate community involvement in waste management and promotion of domestic composting, biogas production, decentralized waste processing at the community level subject to odour management and maintenance of sanitary conditions in the facility.
  16. Phasing out of chemical fertilizer and using compost in all parks and gardens maintained by the local authorities and, where possible, elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the local authority, over the next two years. The informal waste recycling sector can provide incentives for recycling initiatives.
  17. Facilitate constructing, operating and maintaining waste processing facilities such as bio-methanation, microbial composting, vermicomposting, anaerobic digestion or any other appropriate bio-stabilization method for bio-degradable waste; waste for energy processes like waste fuel for fuel fraction of waste or for feedstock to the solid waste-based power plant. 
  18. If the volume of waste reaches 5 metric tons per day, a proposal should be made for authorisation to create a waste collection, processing and disposal facility.
  19. Prepare and forward the annual report to the Commissioner, Controller, Municipal Administration or Appointed Officer by 30 April of the following year and send it to the Secretary, Chair of the Department for State Urban Development or Village Panchayat or the Department for Country Development or the respective State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee on 31 May of the following year. 
  20. Contractors and door to door collection supervisors shall be directed to collect and transport non-mixed waste to processing or disposal sites, during primary and secondary transport.
  21. The plant operator shall ensure that the facility provides personal safeguard equipment to all employees who handle solid waste, including uniform, fluorescent jackets, hand gloves, raincoats, suitable footwear and masks. 
  22. Ensure that guidelines are included in the building plan for creating centres to receive, segregate and store separated wastes when providing for building plans for the housing population or complex business group.
  23. Identify bye‐laws and administer spot fine requirements for persons who litter or refuse to comply, and delegate powers to officers and local authorities to levy spot fines under the by-laws specified. Stop the deposition or disposal of mixed waste immediately following the schedule stated in Rule 23 for the establishment and operation of sanitary waste.
  24. Enable the inert and pre-processed refuse and waste from manufacturing facilities to be moved to sanitary sites including non-usable, non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, non-combustible and non-reactive materials.
  25. Investigate and analyse all old open dumpsites and existing operational dumpsites for their potential of bio‐mining and bio‐remediation and wherever feasible, take necessary actions to bio‐mine or bio‐remediate the sites.
  26. In absence of the potential of bio‐mining and bio‐remediation of the dumpsite, it shall be scientifically capped as per landfill capping norms to prevent further damage to the environment.
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Duties of District Magistrate or District Collector or Deputy Commissioner according to Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

At least once in a quarter, the District Officer or District Collector or Deputy Commissioner shall make it possible to identify and allocate appropriate land for the construction and disposal of solid waste, and to review the performance of local authorities.

Duties of the State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee according to the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016­ 

These laws shall be imposed in their respective states by the State Pollution Control Boards or the Commissions. The environmental quality shall be monitored by the commission and the request to grant authorisation shall be considered; inter-state waste movement should be taken under control.

Duty of manufacturers or Brand owners of disposable products and sanitary napkins and diapers according to the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 

  1. The implementation of this waste management scheme shall be sponsored by all producers of disposable goods, such as tin, glass, plastics, packaging, etc. or the brand owners, who bring these items into the market.
  2. All brand owners who are selling or distributing their goods in non-biodegradable packaging material must develop a system for recovering the packaging waste generated by their production.
  3. Manufacturers or brand owners or companies that sell sanitary napkins or diapers shall explore the possibility to manufacture their products by using all recyclable materials or have a pouch for disposal, along with the packet of their sanitary items, of any fabric or fabric for each dress.
  4. Education to the masses shall be given for the wrapping and disposal of their products by all the brand owners, companies or manufacturers. 

Duties of the industrial units located within one hundred km from the RDF and Waste to Energy plants based on solid waste according to Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

All fuel-using industrial plants located within 100 kilometres of an RDF solid waste plant must arrange for the replacement of at least 5 percent of its fuel requirement by RDF so provided within six months of the notification of those laws.

Criteria for setting up solid waste processing and treatment facilities.­ 

  1. The land allocation department must provide appropriate land for the construction of the processing and treatment plants for solid waste.
  2. The facility operator shall obtain appropriate authorization and shall be responsible for the safe and environmentally friendly operations and/or process of solid waste in the facilities by the State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee.
  3. An annual report shall be submitted to the State Pollution Control Board and Local Authority by 30th April by the operator of the solid waste collection and treatment facility.

Criteria and actions to be taken for solid waste management in hilly areas

  1. Construction of landfill on the hill shall be avoided. A transfer station at a suitable enclosed location shall be set up to collect residual waste from the processing facility and inert waste. A suitable land shall be identified in the plain areas down the hill within 25 kilometres for setting up sanitary landfill. The residual waste from the transfer station shall be disposed of at this sanitary landfill.
  2. Efforts shall be made to establish the regional sanitary wasteland for inert and residual waste in case of non-availability of such land.

Criteria for waste to energy process

  1. Non-recyclable waste of 1500 kg/cal/kg or longer shall not be disposed of in dumps and only used as a feedstock for the preparation of waste-driven fuel, either by refuse-derived fuel, or by refuse-disposing it.
  2. High calorific wastes shall be used for co‐processing in cement or thermal power plants. 

State Level Advisory Body

Within 6 months of the notification date of these laws, each of the departments in charge of the local bodies of the concerned State Government or Union Territory Administration shall constitute the State Level Advisory Body. 

Time frame for implementation

The local authorities and other concerned authorities, as applicable, shall set up on their own initiative or by engaging agencies within the time limits laid down in the Rules the necessary infrastructure to enforce these regulations.

Create a solid waste disposal facility for all local authorities with 100,000 or more inhabitants within two years, create local authorities and census towns with a population of less than 1000, develop common or autonomous health sites by or for all local authorities with a population of 0.5 million or more, and set up a common or national sanity site for all local authorities and census towns with less than 0.5 million people.

Specifications for Sanitary Landfills 

The regulations provide for site selection requirements, site development, landfill site development and site closure design, site closure, contamination control, old dump closure and restoration, and define the conditions for special provisions for hillock areas.

The rules also specify Standards of processing and treatment of solid waste, composting, treated leachates, incineration.


Overall oversight of the country’s enforcement of these rules shall be conducted by the Ministry of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It shall constitute a Center for Monitoring, chaired by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and comprising the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Climate Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Three-State Pollution Control Boards/ Pollution Control Boards and the urban planning and management boards, three Urban Local Bodies, Two census towns, FICCI, CII and Two subject experts.

This Committee shall meet at least once a year to track and review the compliance of the laws. If required, the Ministry can collaborate with other experts. Every three years, the Committee shall be renewed.

Important Provisions updated in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Segregation at source

The new rules include the segregation of the waste stream to collect, reuse and recycle waste. Waste generators will now need, before the waste being passed on to the collector, to sort waste into three fluxes-biodegradable, dry material (plastics, paper, metalworking, wood etc.) and domestically hazardous waste (diaper, serviettes, mosquito repellents, cleaning agents, etc.).

Institutional generators, business groups, event managers and hotels and restaurants were primarily responsible for the segregation and waste collection and control of waste in cooperation with local authorities. In the occurrence of an event or gathering in a place licensed/non-licensed of more than 100 people, the organizer shall guarantee the segregation of waste at the source and the distribution of separated waste, as stipulated by the local authority, to the waste collector or organization.

Collection and disposal of sanitary waste

The waste generators shall dispose of the waste of sanitary napkins generated in a pouch or wrapper for proper disposal which shall be provided by the manufacturer or the brand owner with the sanitary product as it is their responsibility. 

Collect Back scheme for packaging waste

In accordance with the rules, a scheme to collect packaging waste from their manufacturing should be put in place for the brand owners who sell or market their products in a packaging material that is non-biodegradable.

User fees for collection

The new rules gave local authorities in India the authority to assess user charges. City authorities can charge usage fees from bulk generators for collection, disposal and distribution. According to the regulations, the generator must pay the “User Fee’ to the waste collector and “Spot Fine” in the case of waste disposal and non-segregation, the quantum of which will be decided by the local bodies. 

In addition, new rules have been referred to on incorporating the State government into the formal sector rag pickers, waste pickers and kabadiwalas from the informal sector.

Waste processing and treatment

In compliance with the new rules, it was advised that the biodegradable waste should be refined, treated and disposed of as far as possible by composting or bio-methanation at the facility as needed. Developers of the Special Economic Zone, industrial estate and industrial areas shall devote at least 5% of the total area of the property to the recovery and recycling facilities or at least 5 plots/sheds.

All local agencies with 1 million or more inhabitants within two years will have to establish waste processing facilities. The rules also require the bio-remediation or capping within five years of old and abandoned dump sites.

Promoting the use of compost

According to the regulations, the Fertilizer Department, the Chemicals Ministry and Fertilizers will provide city compost for business growth assistance and ensure co-commercialisation with chemical fertilisers for the fertilizer companies, with a ratio of 3-4 bags to 6-7 bags as far as the composting sector is made accessible to the companies. In the Fertiliser Control Order, the Ministry of Agriculture should also provide for the manufacture and sale of compost, the promotion of compost use on agricultural land and the establishment of compost quality testing laboratories manufactured by local authorities or their approved agencies.

Promotion of waste to energy

In a not-so-welcome move, the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 emphasise the promotion of waste to energy plants. The rules mandate all industrial units using fuel and located within 100 km from a solid waste-based Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) plant to make arrangements within six months from the date of notification of these rules to replace at least 5 percent of their fuel requirement by RDF so produced.

As per the rules, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources should facilitate infrastructure creation for Waste to Energy plants and provide appropriate subsidy or incentives for such Waste to Energy plants. The Ministry of Power should fix tariff or charges for the power generated from the Waste to Energy plants based on solid waste and ensure compulsory purchase of power generated from such Waste to Energy plants by DISCOMs.

Revision of parameters and existing standards

Under this new regulation, the deposit site is located 100 meters from the river, 200 meters from the ponds, 500, 200 meters from highways, homes, public parks and wells and 20 kilometres from airports. There are complete modifications to the emission standards including dioxin, furan and particulate matter reduction limits between 150 and 100 and now 50. The compost standards were also modified to comply with the Fertiliser Control Order.

Management of waste in hilly areas

The development of sites on hills is to be avoided according to the new guidelines. In plain areas within 25 kilometres, land for building sanitary sites in hilly areas will be listed. Transfer plants and processing plants in hilly areas shall however be operational.

Constitution of a Central Monitoring Committee

The Government also created the Central Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Secretary of the MoEF&CC, to monitor the overall enforcement of the laws. The Committee of the various stakeholders of the central and state governments will meet once a year to track the enforcement of these laws.

Conclusion: Implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

The Solid Waste Management Rules has the ability to fully alter the waste management system in India. The rules sound too good to be true for a country with such colossal waste management. Unfortunately, the SWMR was not followed up with the correct mobilization of the agencies. There are a variety of other elements required for transformational change in location. Several people across the spectrum are willing to take the initiative to get involved. The policy structure, in particular SWMR, supports sustainable waste management through the steps set out above, with provisions that also encourage local authorities to impose user fees to cover their costs, etc.

However, the existing programs generate overflowing and over-exhausted landfill sites. Even if people are encouraged to segregate waste at the source, the non-compartmentalized transport and dumping equipment would discourage such responsible behaviour. The problem is that the organizations responsible for making such improvements are not geared and motivated. Community participation has not been withheld.

While the rest of the world evolves, local management mechanisms do not seem to be capable of handling this. Not because of some agency’s deliberate mal intentions, but simply because we, as a state and community, have no idea as to how this and subsequent generations so desperately sought after the change agenda can be furthered.

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