Make socially conscious career choices
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India produces around 62 million tons of waste every day. With COVID-19, the challenges of combating biomedical waste such as PPE kits, masks or gloves have also increased. Waste management professionals need to address these challenges and ensure environmental health, says Deeksha Dave, assistant professor at the IGNOU’s School of Interdisciplinary and Trans-Discinary Studies.

The institute recently launched a certificate course on waste disposal to aid the cause. “The course is one step higher than awareness and is attended by civil servants and workers in urban areas to recyclers or individuals investing in the good of the environment.

Lack of special programs


As there are no dedicated waste management courses, short term certificate courses are important to provide information on new industry practices and regulations. “Millennials and Gen Z are undoubtedly more environmentally conscious and want to take classes in environmental sciences to start careers that will also help them save the ecosystem. Currently, waste management is taught as a major part of environmental (ES) and engineering degrees, ”says Dave.

Suman Mor, chairman of Panjab University’s Department of Environment Studies, points out that there are only a handful of institutes that even offer an ES degree for undergraduate students. It is for this reason that most aspirants take up the discipline at the Masters or PhD level. “Waste management is an extensive topic that introduces students to various facets, including bio-waste, electronic waste, industrial waste, construction and demolition waste. Special courses are the order of the day, especially as the country is focused on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, ”she added.

The discipline requires special courses because there is a whole “economy of waste” and it is at the interface of health, management and social sciences.

“If you want to make a career in waste management, you have to plan early. Most of the time, engineering, science, or geography students with a bachelor’s degree can do environmental sciences at the postgraduate level, ”she says. Panjab University does not offer a bachelor’s degree in ES, but it does have an MSc and PhD program.


Employment prospects

Numerous exciting career roles are being created as most companies try to reduce their carbon footprint. “We have all heard the recent craze for green weddings. Employees hire consultants to help them manage waste at these events. Ecommerce websites hire professionals to handle packaging and waste needs. Several industrial and manufacturing units, as well as multinational companies, employ waste managers, plumbing officers or inspectors to help them comply with government waste regulations, ”says Dave. These are just a few examples of the types of roles available. There is also a lack of entrepreneurs in the field who can offer innovative waste management solutions on a large scale.

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