Waste Management Law

Disposing of human and other garbage did not pose a significant challenge in past ages because of a low population and a large amount of land available for trash absorption. However, because incorrect disposal of solid waste results in major health, environmental, and aesthetic issues, it has become one of the key concerns of many municipal authorities and Urban Local Bodies with the duty of policing public health and sanitation. This is due to the fact that waste streams are expanding and diversifying as a result of overpopulation and rapid economic expansion.

In developing countries, the problem is more concerning, complex, and challenging to resolve because to poor finance and infrastructure, a lack of defined authority obligations, a lack of standards, a liberal legal framework, and lax enforcement. Public concern has been generated by India's unplanned, rapid urbanization and slum growth, as well as the worsening environmental and sanitary conditions as a result of both an undesirable population boom and a desirable quick industrialization.

What is the meaning of Waste Management?

Waste management law oversee the transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of various sorts of waste, including municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, and nuclear waste. Waste laws typically aim to reduce or completely prevent the uncontrolled release of waste materials into the environment in a way that could be harmful to the environment's ecology or biological systems. They also aim to encourage or require the recycling of waste. Identification and classification of waste kinds as well as requirements for transport, treatment, storage, and disposal techniques are all part of regulatory initiatives.

Institutional Framework and Waste Management System in India

In India, the entire waste creation, collection, resource recovery, recycling, transportation, processing, and disposal cycles are covered by the solid waste management system. Institutional frameworks for managing solid waste include:

At central level:

At State level:

Rules, Laws, and Legal Provisions Relating to India's Waste Management

The management of solid waste is one of the essential responsibilities assigned by various urban local bodies in India to maintain a clean urban environment. The population coverage is insufficient, the procedures are outdated, ineffective, and unscientific, and the poor are neglected. Two of the most significant regulations in the waste management business are the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules from 1989 and the Bio-Medical Waste Handling Rules from 1998.

The specifics of the roles and duties of waste management, as well as the procedure to be followed in municipal rubbish collection, segregation, processing, and disposal, were nevertheless lacking. As a result, urban cleaning standards were inadequate. It was observed that waste from surrounding cities was regularly dumped in low-lying regions at the borders of communities, which later developed into occupied slums and illegal colonies for collecting recyclable waste. The prevalence of biological, industrial, and electronic waste as well as the absence of waste separation constituted a serious threat to public health. After a public interest lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court in 1996 against the Government of India and local corporations in the matter of solid waste disposal, a committee was then established to investigate the matter. The committee's final report and recommendations were given in 1999. After that, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was given instructions to implement the suggestions and create the necessary regulations for the management of municipal solid waste.

Legislation for Waste Management in India

The main laws governing waste management in India are:

YearRules/Acts/Criminal LawsSalient feature
1860Indian Penal CodeChapter XIV relates to solid waste management which states: violations harming the public health, safety, convenience, decency, and morality. Solid trash has been classified as a "public nuisance" and is penalized since it can lead to a variety of illnesses and is harmful to the general population's health. But the issue of solid waste is not specifically addressed in the Code.
1973Criminal Procedure CodeDeals with "removal of nuisance" under Section 133 and gives the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or any executive Magistrate the authority to order the removal of the public nuisance and the cessation of carrying out any trade or enterprise that is producing public nuisance upon obtaining information.
1974The Waste Act (Prevention and Control of Pollution)The legislation was established to prevent against and manage water contamination nationwide. The national and state boards are given authority to oversee, preserve, and improve the water's quality, as well as to prevent and manage water contamination and impose sanctions on defaulters.
1989Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) RulesIt has given information on the 44 processes that produce hazardous waste as well as information on how to collect, receive, treat, store, transport, and dispose of hazardous trash.
1998The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) RulesThe hospitals had a duty under the law to make the process of handling hospital waste, including segregation, disposal, collection, and treatment, more efficient.
2000Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules
The country's local authorities were all ordered to handle solid trash in their various regions in accordance with the regulations. The MSW regulations include all area of solid waste, from trash disposal to waste collection.

Collection: The municipal agency must do a door-to-door collection.

2001The Batteries (Management and Handling) RulesIn order to control and guarantee the environmentally safe disposal of used batteries, it shall apply to every manufacturer, importer, reconditioner, assembler, dealer, auctioneer, consumer, and bulk consumer involved in the manufacture, processing, sale, purchase, and use of batteries or components.
2011Plastic Waste Rules In contrast to the Plastics Rules from 1999, which stipulated a minimum thickness of 20 microns for plastic bags, these rules specify a minimum thickness of 40 microns. These regulations forbid providing complimentary carry bags to customers or co-retailers. These regulations forbid the use of recycled or biodegradable plastics for food storage, transportation, or packing.
2011E - Waste RulesIn particular, authorization, bulk consumer, historical e-waste, ecologically sound management, e-waste, electrical and electronic equipment, recycler, etc. are all defined in the rules. According to the extended producer responsibility concept, it is the responsibility of the producer to carry out recycling, disposal, and collection of the e-waste produced at the "end of life" of their goods.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 2000 were replaced with the Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2016 by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in 2000, and they were updated in 2016. The term "municipal" has been dropped because the rules' jurisdiction has been expanded beyond municipal boundaries to include outgrowths in urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, air bases, ports, and harbors, defense establishments, special economic zones, state and central government organizations, and places of pilgrimage, religious, and historical significance. These regulations' key components include:

  • Responsibilities of waste generators and source segregation of waste;

  • Introduction of the Swachh Bharat partnership concept: In Swachh Bharat, the idea of collaboration has been introduced. Direct responsibility for sorting and segregating the garbage has been placed on institutional and bulk generators, market organizations, event planners, hotels, and restaurants. These entities manage in collaboration with local bodies;

  • Collection and disposal of sanitary waste;

  • Gather all non-biodegradable packaging materials that can be used in a system to collect the packaging trash that is produced during production;

  • Promotion of marketing and utilization of compost;

  • Promotion of waste to energy;

  • Criteria and standards for waste treatment facility and pollution control; and

  • Establishment of a central monitoring committee: To oversee the general application of the regulations, the government has also established a Central Monitoring Committee, which is headed by the Secretary.


Finally, it becomes clear that the regulations do not offer incentives and inflict harsh penalties in the event of improper application. The rules have supported centralized treatment of garbage, such as waste to energy, rather than pushing for decentralized waste management, which is not beneficial for the nation at the moment. It will take some time before India's waste management systems start to shift dramatically. However, there is little question that these regulations will increase trash utilization and segregation, resulting in less garbage or only inert waste being sent to landfills. Other waste management and utilization options include organic waste for composting, high calorific waste for energy recovery, etc.


Q1. What are the rules for waste management?

Ans. The SWM Rules, 2016, require that all local governments with a population of at least 1 lakh establish solid waste processing facilities within two years. Within three years, census towns and local governments with a population of less than 1 lakh must establish a shared or standalone sanitary landfill.

Q2. What is waste environmental law?

Ans. Waste laws often aim to decrease or completely prevent the uncontrolled release of garbage materials into the environment in a way that might be harmful to the ecosystem's ecology or biological systems. They also aim to encourage or require the recycling of waste.

Q3. What are the golden rules of waste management?

Ans. The golden rules are:

  • Prevent: avoid producing waste in the first place.

  • Reduce: minimize the amount of waste you produce.

  • Reuse: Use items as many as possible

Q4. What is the hazardous waste law?

Ans. Hazardous Waste Management Rules are made known in order to ensure the safe generation, handling, treatment, packaging, storage, transportation, use of reprocessing, collection, conversion, and sale of hazardous waste, as well as its destruction and disposal.

Updated on: 01-Feb-2023


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