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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Municipal solid waste management in India: Development of a better performance ranking system for cities and a review of the effect of current waste management policies on the informal sector

Municipal solid waste management is a critical issue for India. It is associated with negative environmental impacts like pollution and loss of resources along with detrimental social impacts on the people working in the informal sector. Over the years municipal solid waste generation has increased, with rise in population and urbanization, exacerbating the problems of mismanagement.

Recently, the government of India took interventions to improve municipal waste management by establishing a performance ranking system for cities and updating the national waste management policy. These changes created a healthy competition between the urban local bodies and promoted them to strive for excellence. However, an analysis of this ranking system reflects on the existence of some drawbacks and limitations. The policy review also suggests continued lack of inclusion of informal sector workers.

The current work is an endeavour to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of the paradigm shifting interventions taken by the government of India in 2016 to effectively manage municipal solid waste. The work also aims to highlight some key drawbacks of the current ranking system to propose a better rating scheme which promotes holistic improvement in municipal solid waste management. Moreover, the research dwells into the impact of the policy revision on the informal sector and attempts to provide recommendations for inclusion of informal sector.

Gap analysis of the current municipal solid waste management performance ranking system for cities was undertaken to devise a new system post peer review of existing indicators. New indicators include year-on-year waste reduction, identification of informal sector workers and their on-boarding among others. Revised indicator weightages were developed using the process of multi-criteria decision making. Critical review of literature and case studies of Indian cities helped identify potential barriers for inclusion of the informal sector in the formal organization for environmental and social benefits. The key recommendations suggest activities should be carried out promote social acceptance of informal workers along with national policy reforms.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.