CSE welcomes Delhi government decision on recycling of construction and demolition waste

September 01, 2015

  • Delhi has mandated recycled products from construction and demolition (C&D) waste in all future contracts for building works and road works to be taken up by the Delhi government and its agencies

  •  Next step should be a C&D waste policy on improved collection, segregation and handling of waste; decentralised collection and recycling centres; penalty for littering; lower taxes on recycled products and public awareness – says CSE  

  • Centre should finalise the provisions on dealing with C&D waste management in the draft Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2015

  • Notify BIS draft standards for recycled material and products and make use of current legal provisions to enable use of alternative material in the interim 

  • Make developers responsible and accountable for good construction practices, on-site segregation of waste, reuse and disposal; and impose waste tax to minimise waste generation

New Delhi, August 26, 2015:  Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has welcomed the recent decision of the Delhi government to mandate recycled products from C&D waste in all future contracts for building works and road works to be taken up by Delhi government and its agencies. Said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of CSE’s Sustainable Urbanisation team: “This is an important move forward as construction and demolition of buildings cause enormous waste -- about half of all materials used -- that degrades the land and environment.”

The Delhi government has issued an advisory on the use of products made out of recycled waste by the Public Works Department (PWD). It has acknowledged that processing of construction and demolition waste has great potential to save urban space, reduce negative environmental impacts, conserve natural resources and address the shortage of building materials. 

The advisory has asked for use of such products as a first choice in all construction works. All Delhi government agencies will be required to incorporate a clause in their tenders that mandates use of a minimum of 2 per cent recycled products from construction waste in all future contracts for building works and 10 per cent recycled products for road works. It expects the urban local bodies to mandate 5 per cent use of such products for non-structural applications, while examining and approving building plans. 

Says Roychowdhury: “We urge the Delhi government to take the next steps to announce a composite policy on C&D waste like other states for improved collection, segregation and handling of the waste. Organise more decentralised collection and recycling centres. Penalise wrongful disposal and littering and implement tax measures to lower the cost of recycled products to make them competitive. At the same time, take steps to build public awareness.”

The menace of C&D waste

Delhi is estimated to generate about 4,000-4,600 tonnes per day (TPD) of C&D waste. This waste is inert but bulky. It is either dumped in city landfills or in open spaces, water bodies and flood plains. . 

In Delhi, a pilot project has been developed in Burari by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and IL&FS Environmental Infrastructure & Services Ltd (IEISL) to demonstrate the potential of collection and recycling of C&D waste. This project has a capacity to recycle 500 TPD of C&D waste into aggregates, which are then converted to Ready Mix Concrete, pavement blocks, kerb stones and concrete bricks. The products have been tested and found to be suitable for specific purposes. But this plant is overwhelmed by the inflow of waste which is almost three times its capacity. This inflow has been happening from three designated zones -- Karol Bagh, Sadar Paharganj and City (Civil Lines). The MCD-East has built a new C&D waste recycling plant to cater to the waste being generated in its area – this is expected to become operational by next month. 

However, though the MCD has started ordering recycled C7D waste, the products manufactured by the recycling plant are finding very few takers due to lack of information and the absence of a C&D waste policy or standards. The latest advisory of the Delhi government, thus, becomes an important step forward. 

CSE’s review of the environmental concerns around C&D waste has highlighted the following:

• Building material crisis and environmental concern: Controversies over sand and earth mining have put the spotlight on the need to recycle, reuse and substitute naturally sourced building material to reduce demand for it. Indiscriminate sand mining has caused extensive damage to the environment, scarred rivers and made many areas susceptible to floods. In 2012, the Supreme Court asked state governments to amend the rules to regulate mining of minor minerals and to ensure environmental management. On August 5, 2013 the National Green Tribunal (NGT) declared sand mining without environmental clearance illegal. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation alerted the Rajya Sabha in 2012 about the shortage of building material, especially for aggregates and concrete owing to mining bans/restrictions on environmental grounds. The shortage is delaying several civic projects around the country. If mining of sand and other naturally sourced materials has to be restricted and regulated, other strategies like recycling are needed.  

• C&D waste not well quantified and grossly underestimated: There is no systematic database on C&D waste. In India, way back in 2001, the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) in its report on C&D waste had stated that the quantum of solid waste generation in India is about 48 million tonnes per annum -- of which, waste from the construction industry accounted for 25 per cent or 12-14 million tonnes per annum. Oddly, this estimate done in 2000 has not changed in the official documents. 

The Union Ministry of Urban Development had estimated in 2000 that India produced 10-12 million tonnes of C&D waste annually. This has remained un-changed in the ministry’s report of 2015. However, in January 2014, the then minister of urban development told the Parliament that no estimates exist for C&D waste in the country. CSE experts says managing a problem of unknown magnitude will be even more challenging. 

CSE estimates that in 2013, the total C&D waste generated by buildings alone would have been 531 million tonnes, about 50 times higher than the existing official estimate. If C&D waste generated by infrastructure projects like roads, dams, etc is added, then India is already drowning in its C&D waste. 

There are bulk generators and small generators of waste which include demolished structures, renovations, as well as construction and repair of roads, flyovers, bridges, etc. In addition, enormous debris comes from disaster-related destruction as witnessed during the Uttarakhand floods or the Bhuj earthquake in the past. 

Need action at the national level

• Extremely weak national laws on C&D waste: Given the fact that two-thirds of the buildings that will stand in India in 2030 are yet to be built, the environmental cost will only compound with the anticipated construction boom unless immediate steps are taken to recycle and reuse construction waste and turn it into a resource. C&D waste finds a brief mention in the Schedule III of the rule for separate collection in the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) (MSWM) Rules, 2000. This is extremely inadequate and needs immediate amendment. Additionally, there is only a ‘‘Manual on Municipal Solid Waste Management’’ of the Union MoUD, 2015 that includes a chapter on C&D waste, that gives basic guidelines on its handling. However, a separate chapter on C&D waste has been included in the draft Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules of 2015 by the environment ministry, but these rules are yet to be notified.  

• Need legal framework for reuse of C&D waste: Though a number of innovative cost-effective recycled building materials, components and construction techniques have been developed, the Indian housing and building agencies have not adopted them in their construction practices because of policy hurdles. Lack of standardisation, not listing these techniques and material in Indian Standard Codes and/or Schedule of Rates, poor policy push and lack of awareness are the key barriers. 

• Current Indian laws permit use of only “naturally sourced” building materials: The IS: 323 Indian standard specification related to aggregates for concrete states that these should be from natural sources -- “naturally sourced”. Thus, only virgin materials (sand, aggregate) mined directly from nature can be used; the use of recycled or reused components is not allowed. The standard has now been in amendment procedure to recognise and allow partial use of recycled C&D waste as substitution in concrete mix, and is expected to be notified soon. 

• Need proactive municipal action in cities: There is enormous scope for state governments and municipalities to play a proactive role. For instance, the Solid Waste Management Cell of the government of Maharashtra has included C&D waste in its action plan. The plan has a provision on separate collection of debris and bulk waste. Under it, each city needs to have its own system for collection and disposal of waste from bulk waste producers and construction debris. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) came out with the Construction & Demolition & De-silting Waste (Management & Disposal) Rules 2006, one of its kind in India. Pune followed suit. But the state has failed to implement the policies; the sole C&D waste recycling unit in Navi Mumbai was shut down in 2009. Recent steps taken by the Delhi government and the MCD is setting a good precedent for governments and municipalities across the country. 

Though legal reform is taking a long time in India, several creative architects have taken steps to reuse waste in their buildings. A school building in Rajkot, designed by Ahmedabad-based architect Surya Kakani, has been built from the debris of the Bhuj earthquake. The Institute of Rural Research and Development (IRRAD) building in Gurgaon has innovatively recycled and utilised its own construction waste in the building. But these are limited steps.

Global best practices show the way

Globally, cities have employed the legal process to maximise reuse of C&D waste in construction. Singapore, a land-constrained country, recycles 98 per cent of its C&D waste. In the United Kingdom, the rules were amended in 2004 to allow use of recycled aggregates. Almost 280 million tonnes of aggregates are now used every year: this is 28 per cent of UK’s C&D waste. 

The way forward 

  • Notify Draft BIS code to legalise use of recycled material in concrete and enforce the standards.

  • Notify the draft Municipal Solid Waste and Management Rules of 2015 and ensure enforcement of C&D waste rules in all cities.

  • Delhi and all other cities to frame C&D waste policy to promote efficient construction management practices for minimising waste: The municipal rules need to push for optimised use of building space and materials, waste prevention, use of recycled content, on-site segregation, and decentralised collection and disposal system. 

  • Need tax policies for waste minimisation and for making recycled material competitive  

  • Set up systems and infrastructure for collection, disposal of C&D waste and recycling centres with appropriate technologies
     

 

 

 

For more on this, please contact Souparno Banerjee, souparno@cseindia.org / 9910864339.