Municipal Waste has been one of the most severe environmental problems of urban conglomerations. Cities, towns and of late villages with increasing population are generating million tons of municipal waste every year. Major portion of this waste is being dumped in the fringes, occupying water bodies, wetlands, forests, hills and rivers. Such dumping produces huge amount of methane from biodegradable waste, contributing towards green house gases. Such dumping also undermines recycling of dry waste and accelerates climate change. DISHA advocates Zero Waste and takes effort to implement the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. DISHA opposes incineration based technologies in the name of Waste to Energy which ultimately destroys social wealth, causes deadly pollution and global warming. DISHA advocates and tries to implement community based low cost waste management system depending upon source segregation, composting and bio-methanation of wet waste, recycling of dry waste and formal involvement of waste pickers in waste management system. DISHA’s involvement with the issue of municipal waste started since birth of DISHA in 1995.
With a view to cater to the health needs of a neglected group of people and learning the health and environmental impacts of solid waste recycling, DISHA conducted a clinic for waste pickers (rag pickers) for two years (1995-97) at Dhapa municipal solid waste (MSW) dumpsite of Kolkata.
Apart from providing health facilities, DISHA conducted studies on socio-economic and health status of the waste pickers. DISHA also conducted air and water quality monitoring of the Kolkata MSW dumpsite area. A Rapid Assessment Survey of the Health and Environmental Impacts of Solid Waste Recycling was published with the findings.
Another important survey was done in this period on the route of recyclable waste from generation to recycling industries and the price changes at different stages in the process. The study revealed that a large number of people absolutely depend on waste picking, collection, transmission and recycling. They provide a very important service to the society but their contribution is completely neglected.
DISHA conducted a survey in 2007 in 38 municipalities and 3 municipal corporations in Kolkata Metropolitan Area on compliance of Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.
DISHA has been associated with number of municipalities / corporation, e.g. Chandan Nagar, Kanchrapara, Chunchura, Bhadreswar, Kalyani, Bankura, Medinipur, Budge Budge etc. in facilitating municipal solid waste management in those areas.
DISHA conducted a project throughout West Bengal with all KMA and district town municipalities to evaluate the status of municipal solid waste management in West Bengal and developing awareness and concern among citizens and municipalities. The project Campaign for Environment Friendly, Community Based Municipal Solid Waste Management in West Bengal took effort to raise awareness among the common people regarding usefulness of source segregation, composting and recycling.
DISHA conducted a rapid assessment survey on Socio Economic Condition of Waste Pickers in Kolkata Municipal Area in January 2017 for Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Another survey was conducted in April 2017 to make Physical Assessment of Composition and Ratio of Contents in Municipal Waste in Kolkata Metropolitan Area.
DISHA is conducting a solid waste management project “Clean My Transport Terminal” in Dhulagarh Truck Terminal in Howrah District. Daily cleaning, source segregation of waste, arrangement of recycling of dry waste, preparation of compost and vermin-compost from wet waste, behavioral change among the truckers community etc. are the essential features of the project. see A Brief Note on Clean My Truck Terminal
DISHA is also involved in organizing waste pickers for waste management in big events. DISHA was in charge of waste management of Tata Steel Kolkata Marathon held on 17 December 2017.
DISHA provided training on municipal waste management at the vocational training sessions organized by All India Hygiene and Public Health Institute, where trainees from municipalities, urban bodies and pollution control boards form different states of India take part.
DISHA has also organised training sessions supported by Kolkata Urban Slum Improvement Project (KUSP) in Kanchrapara Municipality, Budge Budge Municipality etc.
DISHA assisted Bankura Municipality and Medinipur Municipality in implementing the directions of Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2000 by providing an efficient and low cost collection system.
DISHA offers to help local bodies and concerned citizens in setting up their Zero Waste facilities, based on the principles of waste reduction, reuse and recycling, composting of biodegradables and processing of recyclables through low cost, effective and incremental approach, utilising available knowledge, expertise and infrastructure.
The practical knowledge gathered in the process and continuous interactions with people engaged in sustainable management of waste led DISHA to advocate a zero waste society based on community based, eco-friendly and sustainable management of solid waste. DISHA opposes incineration of waste because (a) incineration destroys the wealth contained in waste, (b) incineration pollutes the environment and (c) it destroys all the good practices of waste minimization, reuse and recycle of dry waste, composting and bio-methanation of wet waste. See in this context DISHA’s initiatives.
DISHA is a founder member of Waste Not Asia,which later became a constituent of GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) .