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With the increasing population, the problem of waste management is increasing. The waste produced is not only damaging the landscape but is seriously affecting human health. Transmission of diseases through microbes and pollution are common problems associated with the improper handling of waste.

Flies, mosquitoes breed over these sites and cause diseases like malaria, dengue, and feco-oral diseases. In order to combat the problem of waste, we have to start with the roots, the reduction in generation of waste through recycling, reusing the materials. The solid waste consists of unwanted and useless solid material generated from human activity in different sectors like residential, industrial, commercial, healthcare.

Depending on the source, solid waste can be categorized into industrial, biomedical and municipal solid waste. The industrial waste includes the toxic, hazardous waste which could be inflammable and cause a serious threat to the environment if left untreated.

Biomedical waste includes the waste generated from hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, veterinary hospitals, etc., which include human anatomical waste, animal waste, soiled waste of plasters, waste sharps, discarded medicines, toxic chemicals, etc. The waste generated from households, communities comes under municipal waste.

To solve the problem of waste in India, some measures have been taken by the Government, like the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan by Prime Minister, NarendraModi. Segregation of waste at source, door-to-door collection, transportation, pre-treatment of the infectious waste and final disposal are some of the major points to be focused on in the proper disposal of solid waste.

The segregation of waste into categories of biodegradable, non-biodegradable, hazardous, infectious at source by the person generating it can help reduce the number of persons coming in contact with the waste. The waste should be transported to incinerators, compost pits and landfills by covering the waste in different colored bags. The incinerators and landfills should be located far away from the residential areas as it can cause damage to the people living nearby.

The landfills should not be left uncovered, as it can cause flies, mosquitoes in the surrounding area which can be the cause of the spread of various diseases. It is also important that the landfills should not contain toxic and hazardous chemicals as they can enter the ground water table through seepage of rainwater.

The municipal waste can be disposed off in the communal pits which are located nearby, as it mostly consists of organic waste. Vermicomposting can also be an alternative method for the treatment of organic waste. It provides manure which can be used by farmers. Organic waste convertors, which are self-sustainable, are readily available in the market of various quantities which has numerous benefits like manure production, gas production which can be used for cooking purpose.

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Biotechnology has given rise to biofuel. The use of limited resources has forced us to think about the optimum utility of renewable resources for human consumption across the globe. Biodiesel is one such fuel that illustrates the importance of a renewable source of energy. Biodiesel is an alternative renewable fuel that is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, spent frying oils and microbial oils.  Greases and Jatropha are also sources of biodiesel and constitute non-edible sources.

A major challenge in using non-edible sources, however, props up in the form of utilization of large scale land, which can cause scarcity of agricultural land for edible crops. To circumvent this problem, microalgae have been used to create biodiesel. Microalgae have high photosynthetic efficiency and can grow in diverse environmental conditions that include high salinity, toxic metal content, presence of toxicants and high CO2 concentration.

Moreover, microalgae can grow in non-arable lands like sea coasts and deserts. The growth of microalgae in water is controllable and non-potable water can also be used. Most microalgae like Scenedesmus and Chlorella have short life cycles, usually less than 24 hours and they have high oil productivity per hectare. Many species of microalgae have been identified to be sources of renewable fuel. Groups from diverse parts have engaged in the development of renewable fuel.

It has been seen that the addition of iron to growth medium under nitrate limitation was found to enhance the crude lipid content of Chlorella to 56.6%. Biodiesel is produced by the synthesis of fatty acid methyl esters – FAME, that involves a transesterification reaction between fatty acid and alcohol.

This step is known to be economical but generates industrial waste that is a hazard.  In this method, pre-extraction is carried out of the oil from the raw material. Nowadays, In situ transesterification has been developed as in this method the pre-extraction and esterification are combined in a single step. The production of industrial waste is countered in this method. Thus, with research and innovation in biotechnology, humans are better equipped to face the challenges of the future.