What is Refuse-derived fuel (RDF)? Can RDF be a solution to waste management in India? Are there any provisions regarding the same in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016? Elucidate.

Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) as the name suggests, is fuel obtained from various kinds of combustible non-biodegradable solid waste such as plastic, polythene, wood, commercial wastes and industrial wastes. It can be used to produce steam or electricity. It also finds its uses as an alternate fuel in industries such as cement.
Solid waste management in India has been troublesome on various levels. Educating people on the importance of segregation is the only way forward. The range of uses of Refuse derived Fuel in various industries should be propagated to encourage people to segregate the wet and dry waste.
Waste to energy conversion should be encouraged in the country and bolstered by various laws. The rules of 2016 are a step towards achieving better compliance for solid waste management.
Few of the several provisions that have been provided in the recent solid waste management rules 2016 vis-à-vis Refuse Derived Fuel are,

  • It made obligatory for the local bodies and municipalities to permit construction, operation and maintenance of facilities which convert waste into waste.
  • The rules state that, the industries located within 100 km from waste to energy conversion plants and RDF plants are bound to replace at least 5% of their fuel requirement with refuse derived fuel. This transformation is supposed to materialize in a period of 6 months.
  • The solid wastes which has a calorific value of more than 1500 K/cal/Kg are not qualified to be disposed of in a landfill, instead they are used for deriving energy.

Energy conversion is a better substitute to landfills and incarnation of the wastes collected. Refuse derived fuel finds its utility in many fields. Thus, RDF is a solution to some of the problems caused by poor waste management in the country.


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