Market Overview of India Solid Waste: International Business and Trade organisation (IBTO)
Market Overview of India Solid Waste: International Business and Trade organisation (IBTO)

Due to rapid urbanization, economic growth and higher rates of urban consumption, India is among the world’s top 10 countries generating municipal solid waste (MSW). According to a report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India generates over 62 million tons (MT) of waste in a year. Only 43 MT of total waste generated gets collected, with 12 MT being treated before disposal, and the remaining 31 MT simply discarded in wasteyards. Most of the waste generated remains untreated and even unaccounted for. Inadequate waste collection, transport, treatment, and disposal have become major causes for environmental and public health concerns in the country.

A study featured in the Journal of Urban Management (December 2021) reports that the 62 MT of waste generated annually includes 7.9 MT of hazardous waste, 5.6 MT of plastic waste, 1.5 MT of e-waste, and 0.17 MT of biomedical waste. The Indian Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently projected that annual waste generation in India will increase to 165 MT by 2030. Hazardous, plastic, e-waste, and bio-medical waste generated is expected to increase proportionately, as well.

The market for solid waste management in India can be segmented into various categories, such as collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal. The collection and transportation segments account for the largest share of the market due to the lack of proper collection and transportation infrastructure. The treatment and disposal segments are expected to witness significant growth during the forecast period due to the increasing focus on sustainable waste management practices.

In India solid waste management (SWM) has been traditionally viewed as the responsibility of local municipal authorities or urban local bodies (ULBs). However, very few municipal authorities have set up proper waste processing centers, while even fewer have adequate waste disposal facilities in place. For reasons ranging from poor financial resources to lack of scientific and technical knowledge of waste management, municipal governments in most Indian cities struggle to manage the solid waste generated in their respective cities.

Over the past decade the government of India, in collaboration with state governments and union territories (UTs), has initiated projects such as the Swachh Bharat mission in 2014 and the development of 100 smart cities across the country, initiated in 2015. With the three basic principles of circular economy (i.e., reduce, reuse, and recycle) in mind, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change also amended India’s SWM rules in 2016. These initiatives, combined with strict enforcement of the updated SWM rules by the CPCB, encourage every ULB in India to develop integrated waste management systems, wet and dry segregation, source-specific collection, home composting/biomethanation, and material and energy recovery from waste.

However, there is substantial variation in technologies adopted for SWM across different states and UTs in India. For example, composting as a technology for solid waste processing has been adopted by all 28 states and 8 UTs, but waste-to-energy (W2E) plants have been set up in only 10 states/UTs and biomethanation can only be found in 22 states/UTs in the country.

The solid waste management sector in India is expected to witness significant growth in the coming years, driven by factors such as increasing urbanization, rising awareness of waste management, and growing investments in waste management infrastructure.

U.S. companies offering innovative technologies, equipment, and cost-efficient waste handling systems and solutions - especially for waste sorting; recycling of plastic, tire, e-waste, and batteries; construction waste management, landfill design and technologies; and solutions generating energy from waste - will find multiple opportunities in India.

For entry into the Indian market, U.S. companies are advised to identify quality partners who understand the market and are well-versed in procurement issues. Strategic planning, due diligence, and consistent follow-ups are required for doing business successfully in India.

U.S. companies may consider the following local trade shows to showcase their technologies and meet Indian business partners:

The experienced U.S. Commercial Service team in India can assist with market entry or expansion in the Indian subcontinent. U.S. businesses providing technologies and solutions in the sector and interested in the India market should contact their nearest U.S. domestic office or the environment technologies team at the U.S. Commercial Service in India.

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