Management of Waste Materials

Now-a-days the price of all materials be it food or petrol or cooking gas is going up and up. The government is not doing anything and they come out with some excuse or the other. Inflation continues to be at a higher level making the common man suffer and forego his normal style of living. Under these circumstances minimizing and conserving wastes and recycling them has become a must.

Waste Management (WM) has several dimensions – engineering, economic, geographic, and social management. Its basic purpose is to minimize the overall waste in a given system. Waste here refers to waste of all kinds of resources, but especially the materials resources which constitute a significant portion. Some waste is inevitable in any conversion process of inputs into outputs. To reduce waste, we have therefore to maximize the use of resources. Resources Management and Waste Management are thus supportive to each other.

Waste can be classified on the basis of:

  • Resources wasted
  • Origin
  • Property
  • Recoverability

Waste Resources: Material resources like solids, liquids, and gases can be wasted. Energy resources like physical, human and solar energy can be wasted. Time resource can be wasted. Capital in the form of capacity, equipment, machine hours and inventory can be wasted. Services like communication, transport, health etc can be wasted. Life or human resources data and information may also suffer wastages.

Origin of waste: It could be industrial, residential, commercial, office, municipal, construction and demolition, agriculture etc.

Property: materials wasted are either hazardous or non-hazardous

Recoverable: Wastes can be recovered into some useful resources, material waste recycled. Non- recoverable wastes are lost with time.

Waste exists in-myriad forms – non-workable components excess inventory machine downtime, re-work non-conformance, warranties. Any activity that does not add value is a waste, re-work is the biggest non-value added activity that a company performs. If we reduce the unnecessary activities or eliminate them, costs will come down drastically.

Measurement of waste:

  • Wastivity = Waste (W) / Input (I)
  • Gross Wastivity = Total Waste /Total Input
  • Net waste = Total Waste – Waste Recycled within the system
  • Net Wastivity = Net waste /Total Input

Wastivity and Productivity

Waste is an indirect measure of productivity. If Wastivity is checked, productivity will improve automatically.

Various causes are responsible for wastes. An illustrative list is given below. The highest waste causing factors are considered to be critical.

  1. Faulty planning and policies, systems and procedures
  2. Faulty organization structure
  3. Environmental pressures
  4. Tardiness
  5. Lack of accountability
  6. Unawareness of technological advances

Non-responsiveness to automation / computerization

  1. Wrong specifications, standard, codes
  2. Wrong raw materials
  3. Lack of inventory control
  4. Lack of proper storage, layout of facilities, handling lot material
  5. Communication gaps

Faulty work method

  1. Less emphasis on PPC

Lax supervision and control

  1. Wrong recruitment /selection policies

Lack of motivation / incentives

  1. Poor working conditions
  2. Unsafe practices
  3. Poor IR: Industrial Relations
  4. Maintenance failure
  5. Power failure

Distribution problems

  1. Less attention to waste segregation and collecti0on
  2. Technological obsolescence
  3. Miscellaneous causes

Systematic Approach to Waste Reduction

  1. First of all the total waste to the whole system is recognized
  2. Then the stages at which waste is generated are identified
  3. Then the sub-stages are identified in which above wastages can be put.
  4. Then waste reduction program is implemented at each stage by planning correcting action and eliminating the cause.

Waste Collection System:

Wastes affect the environment the organization, the public health. Waste collection consists of transporting the waste. It is a major cost element and if efficiently handled, may reduce the overall cost of WM. Waste collection consumes 80 pc of waste reduction program.

The following factors govern the waste collection:

Separate the waste at source. Make arrangement to collect it in suitable containers of the right materials and right size.

Depending upon the generation rate of waste, make arrangements to collect waste from time to time. Offer incentives to segregates waste at sources. Carry the waste to the salvage industry for ultimate reuse. Make suitable arrangements to collect both the organic and inorganic wastes.

Waste collection can be put to a number of uses both inside the factory or building. Of course it is recycled after giving a treatment. In Mumbai it is already in practice in quite a few office buildings and some residential ones. One such example is recycling waste water for inferior uses.


    It is interesting to look at this article as waste management in over all perspective. P.Natarajan, Executive Secretary, VETRI.