India generates an enormous amount of waste, including municipal solid waste (MSW), industrial waste, hazardous waste, and biological waste. According to the State of India's Environment 2023 report, MSW generation in India is estimated to be around 150,000 tonne per day (TPD). To harness the energy potential of this waste and reduce reliance on landfills, waste-to-energy (WTE) processes are being explored across India. The process involves converting garbage into heat and electricity, thereby providing renewable energy (RE). As on November 2022, India had 12 operational and 8 non-operational WTE plants in 10 states. In most WTE plants, MSW is burned to generate steam, which powers electric generators. India has the potential to generate 5,690 MW of power from industrial waste and MSW. However, as on May 2023, the installed capacity stood at 556 MW, indicating the untapped potential of WTE.
Rejuvenating India's WTE sector offers several compelling benefits, such as reduced reliance on fossil fuels, a diversified energy mix, and enhanced energy security. Further, WTE plants effectively manage solid waste by alleviating strain on limited landfill space and addressing the growing waste generation challenge. Such plants also create job opportunities, supporting the local economy and livelihoods. By harnessing untapped waste resources, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, alleviating health risks, and combating climate change, WTE aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and promotes a circular economy.