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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)

Municipal Solid Waste Characteristics and Management in

Kolkata, India
Swapan Das1, Bidyut Kr. Bhattacharyya2
1 2
Ph.D. Scholar, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur,
Howrah, India
Abstract-- This paper presents a general over view of the Therefore, augmentation of the solid waste management
current municipal solid waste (MSW) management in Kolkata facilities and their operation & maintenance in a
province, India. In order to characterize the solid waste sustainable manner by urban local bodies would require
stream in the Municipality of Kolkata, a long-term study was huge capital investment, introduction of latest technologies
conducted over a 56-week period between the winter of 2010
which are cost effective. Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
and the winter of 2011. In this study, percentage of
components and specific weight of the MSW, the composting in waste management and introduction of appropriate waste
parameters (moisture content, total organic carbon, total management practices are needed in order to prevent urban
nitrogen and pH), organic matter content, calorific value and waste causing environmental pollution and health hazards.
heavy metal concentrations (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn, Fn, Mn,
Co) of the compostable waste sorted from the mixed MSW II. DESCRIPTION OF KOLKATA PROVINCE
were determined and evaluated. Kolkata city generates
approximately 5114.76 ton/d i.e., 1.10 kg/cap-d of MSW daily. Kolkata is located in the eastern part of India at 2249N
Approximately 700 ton of MSW were collected and stored in 8812E22.82N 88.20E. It has spread linearly along the
every day. Approximately 30% of the MSW generated is banks of the Hooghly River. The Kolkata Municipal
compostable wastes and yearly mean moisture content, Corporation has an area of 185 square kilometres. The city
organic matter content, C/N ratio and pH of these are 46%, is near sea level, with the average elevation being 17 feet.
31.81%, 21.6 and 8.07, respectively, and approximately 15% The whole area is in the Ganges Delta and is monotonously
of the MSW consists of recyclable materials. The plain. As Kolkata is near the sea, the city has uniform
recommended system deals with maximizing recycling and temperature throughout the year. The temperature ranges
minimizing landfilling of the MSW.
from 14-25C in the winter and 23-36C in the summer.
Keywords Physical and Chemical Characteristics, Annual rainfall is around 160 cm. Humidity level can be
quantities, recommended model, sources, waste analysis. very high in the summers. As a growing metropolitan city
in a developing country, Kolkata confronts substantial
I. INTRODUCTION urban pollution, traffic congestion, poverty,
overpopulation, and other logistic and socioeconomic
In most parts of the world today, solid wastes are problems.
disposed of either in open dumps or sanitary landfills, or by
incineration. As incineration and sanitary landfilling are
expensive, both in initial investment and throughout their
operation, their use is mostly confined to developed
countries, while open dumping is the method used in Kolkata province consists of three municipalities:
economically developing countries, mainly due to its Kolkata municipality corporation, Bidhan Nagar
simplicity and low cost. Indias tradition means of Municipality Corporation, Dum Dum Municipality
disposing of solid waste has been to dump it at these open Corporation. All operations of solid waste management
sites, which are 2020, or at sea. (SWM) in this area are performed under four heads
Solid waste management has become a considerable sweeping, collection, transportation and disposal and are
issue, in addition other environmental problems, especially shown schematically in Fig. 1
for densely populated cities in developing countries.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)
A. Sources and Quantities of M S W
Major sources of MSW in the KMC area are residential
areas, commercial/market areas, offices and institutions.
Field surveys were carried out by KEIP in 2005 and by
KMC in 2010 to assess the status of MSW generation in the
KMC area. Kolkata city generates approximately 5114.76
ton/d i.e., 1.10 kg/cap-d of MSW daily. KMC has estimated
the amount of MSW generated from various sources in the
city, shown in table I.

Month Garbage (Ton)

JAN'10 107144
FEB'10 106944
MARCH'10 138238
APRIL'10 135540
MAY'10 150301
JUNE'10 136890
JULLY'10 142532
AUG'10 146232
SEPT'10 140984
OCT'10 148157
Fig. 1 Schematic representation of solid waste management in NOV'10 134469
DEC'10 140453
In the city area, street cleaning and collection involves JAN'11 153443
collection of MSW from the streets (road sweeping) and Garbage weight in Ton
households in handcarts. Thereafter, the waste is dumped at
Figure 2 shows the percent distribution of solid waste
one of the 664 collection points (primary collection). MSW
from various sources such as maximum municipal solid
is then loaded into transportation vehicles (trucks)
waste generate from commercial and market areas around
(secondary collection), which transport the waste (transfer)
36.37%, minimum from institutions around 6.32%,
to disposal sites. In Kolkata province and its towns, open
household waste generate around 34.20% and from street
dumping is the only option that is presently used for the
sweeping 22.80% of municipal solid waste.
management of the MSW. The solid waste collection
method used in Kolkata is primary collection and
secondary collection method. Kolkatas municipal solid
waste generally consists of waste generated from
residential, commercial and institutional areas, parks and
streets, and is not sorted at the source, but stored in the
same waste containers. The dimensions and numbers of
containers vary according to the width of the street and the
quantity of the waste generated. The total number of waste
bins in Kolkata is 664. Solid wastes stored in waste bins are
collected and transported to the open dump area by vehicles
belonging to the municipality of Kolkata.

Fig.2 Percent Distribution of solid waste

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)
B. Physical and Chemical Characteristics of City Refuse TABLE III
Refuse characteristics vary not only from city to city but KOLKATA (NEERI, 2010)
even within the same city, as it depends on factors such as
the nature of local activities, food habits, cultural traditions, Parameters 1995 2010
socio-economic factors, climatic conditions, and seasons. Moisture 61.57 46
Ph 6.33 0.38.07
The physical and chemical characteristics aid in deciding
Loss on ignition 46.78 38.53
the desired frequency of collection, precautions to be taken Carbon 25.98 22.35
during transportation, and methods of processing and Nitrogen as N 0.88 0.76
disposal. Variation of physical composition and chemical Phosphorous as P2O5 0.58 0.77
characteristics of MSW in Kolkata during 1995, and 2010 Potassium as K2O 0.93 0.52
are presented in Table II and Table III, respectively. C/N ratio 29.53 31.81
Calorific value kJ kg1 2717 5028
MSW COMPOSITION IN KOLKATA DURING 1995 & 2010 All values are in percent by dry weight basis except pH, C/N ratio and
(NEERI, 2010) calorific value.
Parameters 1995 2010 C. Leachate Quality
Biodegradables 44.29 50.56
Green coconut shells 8.51 4.5 TABLE IV
Paper 4.64 6.07
Plastics 3.22 4.88 Parameter Concentration
Metals 0.43 0.19 pH 7.488.0
Glass & Crockery 1.72 0.34 Alkalinity 29003590
Coal 3.10 Total solids 1005114727
Inert 26.82 29.6 Total organic solids 27507000
Others 7.27 3.86 Total inorganic solids 75437785
All values are in percent by wet weight. BOD5 20 C 20757000
*Bio-resistant and synthetic material. COD 342716000
Chloride 12343408
Table II shows an increasing trend for the biodegradable Nitrate 2. 163.31
fraction, and also shows an increase in the day-to-day use Arsenic 0.0050.009
of plastic and paper. A decrease in the coal fraction is Mercury 0.0020.009
reflected due to an increase in the utilization of domestic Lead 0.070.08
gas. The amount of paper and plastics, including materials Cadmium 0.040.05
such as food containers and wrapping materials, is noted to Total chromium 0.430.85
be much lower than in developed countries such as the Copper 0.060.28
Zinc 0.160.85
USA (65%) and Western Europe (48%) (IGES, 2001).
Nickel 0.600.73
Waste in developing cities generally has a high organic Fluoride 0.360.86
content (more than 50%) and a low energy value (around
All concentrations are expressed in mg /L, except pH.
3,3504,200 kJ kg1) (CPHEEO, 2000). Biological
treatment processes such as composting and biogasification The quality of natural leachate, sampled from the
are thus well suited (IGES, 2001) for such wastes. existing MSW disposal site at Dhapa, shows that
The chemical characteristics listed in Table III show an concentrations of solids, BOD, COD, and chloride are
increasing trend in moisture content. This is most likely much higher than those allowed for discharge into inland
due to the presence of a higher proportion of fresh and surface water (Mandal, 2007). The concentration of toxic
unprocessed vegetable waste. Although the calorific value elements such as As, Hg, Pb, Cd, Cr, Cu, Zn, Ni, and
of waste has risen substantially in the year 2010, it is still fluoride are reported to be lower than those allowed for
not in the range suitable for incineration. The calorific discharge in inland surface water. The quality of
value reported is on the higher side for the type of waste wastewater in the canal at the Dhapa area shows that
composition reported and should be further analyzed. The concentrations of TS, BOD, COD, and Cr are high.
carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio is within the ideal range (26
31) for composting (CPHEEO, 2000).
International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)
Similarly, large water bodies in the Dhapa area also have Wastes from slaughter houses, meat and fish markets,
high BOD and COD (KEIP, 2007). The major parameters fruits and vegetable markets, which are biodegradable in
of leachate quality are shown in table IV. nature, shall be managed to make use of such wastes.
Collected waste from residential and other areas shall be
D. Subsurface lithology
transferred to community bin by hand-driven containerized
The soil strata can be grouped into two horizons. The carts or other small vehicles. The municipal authority shall
first horizon in the Dhapa landfill area is characterized by notify waste collection schedule and the likely method to
soft and gray clay having a lower N value (standard be adopted for public benefit in a city or town.
penetration value). The upper part of the second horizon is
characterized by stiff and brownish clay with a higher N
value and also by the presence of gravel. However, the
permeability values of clay layers in these two horizons do
not distinctly change and lie in the range of 1 106 to
1 108 cm s1. The lower part of the second horizon is
represented by the first sand layer, which occurs at a depth
of about 2230 m. It has an N value greater than 50, and
permeability is in the range of 1 103 to 1 105 cm s1.
An analysis of clays present within 25 m of drilling clearly
reveals a clear decreasing trend in concentrations of heavy
metals (Ni, Cr, and Pb) and cations (K +, Ca2+, and Mg2+)
from shallow to deeper levels, i.e., from 5 to 20 m depth.
However, anions such as Cl, SO42-, and NO3- and the
cation Na+ show an initial decreasing trend with depth (10
15 m) but their concentrations increase at greater depths.
The concentration of Fe varies independently of depth, and
the pH of the soil becomes more alkaline at greater depths
(KEIP, 2007).


A. Recommended handling system
One of the main components of this management system
Fig.3 proposed model for MSWM
is recycling and to make it feasible, it is important to plan a
better handling system. Different steps are shown in fig. 3 C. Recommended Segregation system
for recommended solid waste management for Kolkata Segregation of recyclable waste at source is thus not
province. As such, the following handling system is seriously practiced by households and establishments, who
proposed. throw such waste on the streets or in the municipal bins
B. Recommended Collection system unsegregated. At least 15% of the total waste can
conveniently be segregated at source for recycling, which is
Organizing house-to-house collection of municipal solid
being thrown on the streets in absence of the practice of
wastes through any of the methods, like community bin
segregation of waste at source. Part of this waste is picked
collection (central bin), house-to-house collection,
up by rag-pickers in a soiled condition and sold to middle
collection on regular pre-informed timings and scheduling
men at a low price, who in turn pass on the material to the
by using bell ringing of musical vehicle (without exceeding
recycling industry at a higher price after cleaning or
permissible noise levels).Devising collection of waste from
segregation and the waste that remains uncollected finds its
slums and quarter areas or localities including hotels,
way to the dumping grounds. Figure 4 shows the types of
restaurants, office complexes and commercial areas.
materials we can segregated from the sources.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)
The most common consumer products recycled include
aluminum such as beverage cans, copper such as wire, steel
food and aerosol cans, old steel furnishings or equipment ,
polyethylene and PET bottles, glass bottles and jars,
paperboard cartons, newspapers, magazines and light
paper, and corrugated fiberboard boxes.
G. Recommended Disposal system
Land filling shall be restricted to non-biodegradable,
inert waste and other waste that are not suitable either for
recycling or for biological processing. Land filling shall
also be carried out for residues of waste processing
facilities as well as pre-processing rejects from waste
processing facilities. Land filling of mixed waste shall be
avoided unless the same is found unsuitable for waste

Sample from the open dumping area in Dhapa landfield
Fig.4 Schematic of solid waste segregation at source site were collected weekly over a one year period (January
2010 to January 2011), the current uncontrolled disposal
D. Recommended Transportation system activity was evaluated, and the composition and
Vehicles used for transportation of wastes shall be characteristics of the MSW were determined.
covered. Waste should not be visible to public, nor exposed The present disposal method, open dumping, must be
to open environment preventing their scattering. The immediately abandoned. The present sorting process is not
storage facilities set up by municipal authorities shall be effective. Ideally, all of the valuable materials should be
daily attended for clearing of wastes. The bins or containers collected separately at the source and transported to the
wherever placed shall be cleaned before they start recycling/recovery centre in order to increase the economic
overflowing. Transportation vehicles shall be so designed benefit. Educational programs, which will be hopeful to
that multiple handling of wastes, prior to final disposal, is decrease the waste loads for solid waste collection,
avoided. separation and recycling may be conducted.
The municipal corporation certain modifications and
E. Recommended Treatment system
improvements to solid waste management services have
Municipal authorities shall adopt suitable technology or been done, this is still not sufficient to mitigate the present
combination of such technologies to make use of wastes so and future problems of solid waste management in Kolkata.
as to minimize burden on landfill. The biodegradable To achieve a target of 100% collection, transportation,
wastes shall be processed by composting, treatment, and disposal, Municipal Corporation would first
vermicomposting, anaerobic digestion or any other need to prepare a macro plan which would identify the
appropriate biological processing for stabilization of quantity of waste generated in the municipality and the
wastes. Mixed waste containing recoverable resources shall broad strategy to be adopted to manage the system. This
follow the route of recycling. should be followed by a micro or locality-based plan,
F. Recommended Recycling system which would provide details as to routes, timing,
equipment, and manpower deployment.
Recycling refers to the collection and reuse of waste
materials such as empty beverage containers. The materials Acknowledgement
from which the items are made can be reprocessed into new We would like to thank the management and staff of
products. Material for recycling may be collected Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Bidhan Nagar Municipal
separately from general waste using dedicated bins and Corporation and Dum Dum Municipal Corporation for
collection vehicles, or sorted directly from mixed waste providing the data used to undertake the research outlined
streams. in this article.

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering
Website: (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013)
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