Living in Bengaluru? An idiot’s guide to sorting out waste according to High Court directions

Here's the logic of which item goes where, and a list of examples
Living in Bengaluru? An idiot’s guide to sorting out waste according to High Court directions
Living in Bengaluru? An idiot’s guide to sorting out waste according to High Court directions
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That Bengaluru’s garbage crisis is of epic proportions is no exaggeration. According to 2014 estimates, Karnataka’s capital generates waste of around 5,000 tonnes every day.

All over the world, people are trying to reduce the waste they generate, because zero waste generation is impossible to achieve. However, the idea is to ensure that waste is either reused or converted into another useful product. The real target then, is to ensure that the amount of waste that ultimately makes it to a landfill is reduced as much as possible.

Earlier this week, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order in a PIL filed by the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT). The High Court has not just asked city-dwellers to segregate waste at source, but has also directed the BBMP to ensure that waste is also transported separately. Myriam Shankar Krafft of the round table says that both aspects are crucial to ensuring that Bengaluru reduces its waste generation. The roundle table has worked with diverse groups of the city's residents - people living in independent houses, in apartment complexes to slums - and have found that this model is the easiest to follow.

What you need to know

So according to the order, waste must be segregated at source by following the colour-coded two bins and one bag formula, and is to be handed over to waste collectors. Certain types of waste are to be directly collected in green bins, other types in red bins and dry waste is to be collected in a reusable bag and handed over to sanitation workers. Sanitation workers would then send waste directly for composting, recycling or to a landfill, depending on the type. (More details to follow.) Plastic bags are not to be used while segregating waste at source.

However, the last time Bengaluru was supposed to adopt a waste segregation at source practice, it was the wet-waste-dry-waste model and there was terrible confusion over what was wet and what is dry. Is a soggy tissue wet waste or is it dry? What happens to a shaving blade? Or a plastic of milk, which is technically plastic, but it has food residue. Where does all this go?

Here’s how the system works:

SWMRT has compiled fairly detailed guides to disposing of the various types of waste generated in a house, school, garden, office, place of worship and more. There’s a simple logic to it.

You use the green bin for household waste which can be composted, meaning turned into manure. Do not use plastic in the bin to collect this waste, because soiled plastic bags cannot be recycled.

The red bin is for waste that is to be permanently disposed of in a landfill. The world over, the ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of garbage that will go in a landfill, because it is there to stay – it cannot be recycled, reused or turned into manure.

The bag is for dry waste made of material can be reused.

Besides this everyday waste, construction waste and e-waste must handed over separately.

Fore frequently asked questions, see here. For a detailed itemised list of what to put where, continue reading. Some of the categorization is surprising.

Green bin

The green bin is meant for compostable kitchen waste or garden waste. Now this is a bit tricky, the guide can help.

Tea bags, coffee power, vegetable / fruit / meat / bones / egg shells, areca leaf plates, all go here. For your information, if you’ve used a tissue paper to wipe milk off the floor, then it goes here, in the green bag. Coconut shells however, don’t go here. Read further to find out.

As far as garden waste is considered, small quantities of flowers, grass, twigs, weeds are placed here. Dried up flowers placed before the gods, turmeric, incense sticks and its ash, camphor, chandan, leftover oil from lamps, too are included in this category.

Red bin

This includes – sanitary waste such as issues with blood etc, bandages, cut finger nails, hair, medicines past their expiry dates, the dust you sweep out of your house / office every day, all goes in here. Earthen lamps, candles too go here.

Things like diapers and sanitary napkins must be wrapped in paper before disposal.

Sharp objects such as blades, or razors, needles, syringes, also go here, but be sure to wrap them in newspaper and inform the waste collector. Too many waste collectors are injured by such sharp objects.

Reusable bag

Make a mental list of materials that you can reuse – paper, plastic, glass, for starters. But there’s a lot more to it.

A lot of food packing goes in here, but since it contains food residue, it needs to be rinsed before disposal. Remember your mum or grandmum washing out plastic milk packets to give to the raddiwala at the end of the month? Well, you do the same with take away food, tetra packs, plastic cups, foil wrapping, soft drink or beer cans, pizza boxes, etc.

Soiled plastic cannot be recycled, so make sure you rinse these containers before disposal otherwise, the purpose would be defeated.

Other items on this list are unbroken glass, coconut shells, hair, cosmetics, rubber or thermocol items, old mops, dusters, they all go here.

E-waste / Electronic waste

Electronic products are often made of chemicals and other toxic substances which harm not just the environment, but impact on human health too. Lead, for instance, which is present in batteries.

Batteries, CDs, tapes, thermometers, bulbs, tubelights, wires, mobile phones, old chargers, printer cartridges, computer parts such as mouse, keyboards, monitors, electromic toys and gadgets all need to be handed over separately to waste collectors so that they can be disposed of appropriately.

Construction waste

Same goes for construction waste. Cement powder, paints, broken glass, bricks, flower pots, go here. In small quantities of course, need to be given to sanitation workers separately.

(This list is based on guides prepared by the Solid Waste Management Round Table)

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