Solid waste management has changed a lot from conventional collection techniques and disposal methods due to limited land availability and increasing environmental regulations. Another development nowadays is that unlike in the past no village or locality is ready to accept waste from a nearby town due to complex health reasons. It is found that on an average, municipal solid waste contains about 35% paper, 6% plastics and the rest dried leaves, wood etc. Among plastics, polyolefins (polythene, polyethylene etc.) constitute 75%, styrene polymers constitute 15% and PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) 10%.
Wrongly stored refuse attracts insects and rodents, creates fire hazard and produces odours, litter etc. Open dumping is very difficult these days due to objections from the public. Hence open dumping is now carried out in double-lined landfills with mechanisms for collecting leachate and to control emissions. Sanitary landfills are and will continue to be the principal method of solid waste disposal. It involves spreading the waste in thin layers, compacting it to the smallest practical volume and covering it with soil at periodic intervals. Sanitary landfills are designed for a minimum depth of solid waste of 6m and a minimum life of 10 years. Composting allows farmers to convert organic waste into soil amendments and it is the microbial activity which helps the process. Incineration, if properly done helps to burn away the combustible portion of the solid waste. But adequate care is needed to ensure proper combustion and to avoid harmful emissions.