Ideas and Action for a Better India
Why are (most) European cities clean? Because they segregate waste and recycle most of it – whereas Indian cities love to create mountains of hazardous garbage.
The recent news that Sweden recycles 99% of its waste must have seemed unbelievable to most urban Indians, who are used to seeing their municipalities create mountains of landfills – wastelands in a country that does not know, and does not care to know, how to manage waste.
European Union has mandated a target of recycling 50 % of household and similar waste by 2020. About 40 % of municipal waste is recycled in Europe in 2014, a significant improvement on 23 % in 2001.
Austria, where I came four days ago, has already exceeded the EU-mandated target – it recycles 65 % of its waste.
Vienna is a very clean city. One main reason for this is that waste segregation here is compulsory. (See the photos I took of bins in streets for different kinds of waste – wet waste, cans, glass, etc.)
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given a commendable call for making India clean by 2019 – as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who was the greatest champion of inner and outer cleanliness, on his 150th birth anniversary five years from now. But MISSION 2019 can succeed only if his government mandates segregation of municipal waste and its maximum recycling in a scientific way.