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Useful harvest

education Updated: Mar 07, 2012 13:03 IST

Hindustan Times
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The lowdown
Waste management experts are environmental engineers and postgraduates in environmental science who focus on innovative practices in disposing of/reuse of all kinds of waste. Students from other disciplines, such as chemical, civil, microbiology and biotechnology, are involved in different aspects of waste management. Some create new products out of waste, while others collect precious metals from the same. A lot of electronic waste – a cell phone for example – is being generated now and many tech-savvy professionals have made it their mission to harvest it. Organic waste is a much bigger business proposition – it constitutes 35% of all garbage generated in India. Water management, construction waste and debris (30 to 40%) and hazardous waste, including bio-medical waste, too, call for professional management. A lot of waste management work is being done by private and non-governmental organisations. The government is also taking a step towards professional garbage management

Clockwork
An average day of an environmental engineer working with a company converting waste into resources:
10am: Reach office. Ask team about the status of weekly/ biweekly projects. Meeting with my team, work on project proposals, collect details on competitors’ technology
1.30pm: Lunch
2pm: Back to work, more of the same thing, talk in or participate in the weekly TV show ‘masti ki paathshala’, internal lectures series on topics of professional interest
4pm: Visit the project or work site
6pm: Back home

Most of the days, I also work from home searching for new ideas, technologies and information about competitors

The payoff
About Rs 12,000 to 15,000 or more a month, depending on your aptitude, expertise, and place of employment

Skills/TRAITS
* Willingness to get your hands dirty
* Resourcefulness
* A constructive approach
* An interest in and concern for the environment
* An avid reader
* Should have studied the laws related to the environment

Getting there
Take up science in Class 12. After this, go for a bachelor’s in environmental, civil, chemical or mechanical engineering, microbiology, or even biotechnology. Admission to these is through competitive exams. You may pursue a master’s in environmental engineering as well. Else, you could also do a BSc programme and follow it up with a master’s (MA/MSc) in environmental studies. You can choose to work with an NGO working in this space and then with considerable experience start your own enterprise. Initiatives like Green the Gap (www.greenthegap.com) and Greenobin (www.greenobin.com) are doing some good work in this area

Institutes and URLs
* Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad
www.ismdhanbad.ac.in/
* Indian Institutes of Technology, multiple locations jee.iitd.ac.in
* University of Delhi
www.du.ac.in
* School of Environmental Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University
www.jnu.ac.in
* Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, New Delhi
www.ecology.edu
* Centre for Environment Education, multiple locations
www.ceeindia.org/cee/index.htm
* TERI, New Delhi
www.teriin.org

Pros and cons
* The waste management sector offers tremendous potential to those who are serious about working for a cause
* Technological job
* As compared to other professions, it is not a very well-paying job in the initial years of your career
* There is a stigma attached to working with waste. The society does not look up to those working in the sector. However, with increasing awareness, the perception is changing towards waste management professionals
* It is a niche area of work and specialisation
* It is a very satisfying profession

Waste disposal in urban areas is gaining a lot of attention with each passing day. Interestingly, E-waste is emerging as a one of the hot areas when it comes to waste managements Rajiv Seth, registrar Teri University, Delhi