Waste segregation refers to the separation of dry and wet garbage, which paves the way for other concepts of waste management like composting, recycling and incineration.
Its end goal is to reduce waste from landfills and eventually, prevent land, water and air pollution.
Why Should You Segregate Waste?
India generates 62 million tonnes (MT) of waste every year, and only 43 MT is collected. Of the collected waste, close to 31 MT is dumped on landfill sites or water bodies and only11.9 MT is scientifically treated.
Consequently, our landfills are brimming with so much urban waste that according to a joint report by Assocham and accounting firm PwC, India is reportedly going to need a landfill that’s the size of New Delhi by 2050.
The first and most crucial step to change this alarming forecast is to segregate waste so that it can be treated scientifically at the source.
Here are 4 Ways To Segregate Waste in Apartments
1) Wet/Kitchen Waste
This comprises of items like fruit peels, leftovers, vegetable skins, uncooked food, coffee or tea powder, and garden waste like leaves and twigs.
Maintain a drum, container or a bin to deposit such waste, so that it can be converted into rich organic compost. You can choose your composting process. Examples include vermicomposting, aerobic and anaerobic composting.
2) Dry waste
Dry waste is divided into recyclable and non-recyclable waste. Items like used paper towels, hazardous chemical or food containers, foam materials, and dishware are some examples of dry waste that cannot be recycled or reused.
Dry recyclable waste includes pet bottles, plastic carry bags, newspapers, glass bottles, shoes, plastic cutlery, tires, cardboard, and so on.
If the recyclable waste is segregated further, it can fetch you money or goodies. From online kabadiwalas, local scrap dealers, recycling centres, raddiwalas to municipal corporations, there are several sources you can submit your dry waste to and get something in return.
Since dry waste only consists of 30-40% of the total household waste, maintain a recyclable bin and give it away every once or twice a week.
3) Sanitary Waste
Diapers (adults and babies), synthetic sanitary napkins, hygiene-related products, condoms, tampons, soiled napkins are classified as sanitary waste. Medical waste consists of linens, bedding, items contaminated with blood or body fluids, soiled plaster casts and other types of dressing.
Medical and sanitary waste has to be incinerated, microwaved or autoclaved to avoid the spread of diseases.
Since not every city or village in India is equipped with facilities to treat the waste scientifically, the best way to dispose of them is to wrap it in a newspaper and mark it with a red dot for easy identification.
There are three types of electronic waste you must be aware of:
- Bulky: Fridge, microwave or anything is that is difficult to carry around.
- Hazardous: Tubelights, light bulbs, toner cartridges, batteries, monitors and screens. Anything with a chemical component.
- Non-hazardous: Cables, chargers, microwaves, gadgets like laptops and phones.
Collect all the e-waste in a container, and you can follow a weekly, monthly or yearly disposal process.
Just like dry waste, there are several public e-waste drop off points, online collection services, recycling centres where you can donate or trade your electronic waste.
How to Segregate Waste At Work
Most of the offices follow a two-bin system—one for recyclable waste and one for wet garbage. But just like your home, the more you segregate, the better the waste management.
Here are four bins that every office should have:
- A bin for wet waste like leftover food, vegetable or fruit peels, tea bags, etc. in the canteen or cafeteria. If the volume of wet waste is vast, an office can also follow on-site composting.
- Dry waste should be further divided into plastic, metal, glass and paper. Send each type of garbage every week to recycling centres or services.
- Electronic waste like CDs, pen drives, bulbs, tube-lights, computer systems, electric cables, keyboards, batteries, motherboards etc. should be collected by the office and transported to e-waste collection centres.
- Bins should be placed in bathrooms for sanitary waste like pads. Some offices even install incinerators to treat it at the source.
“Before establishing infrastructure or facilities for waste segregation, a behaviour change is critical for its effective implementation. It is the responsibility of the government and people who are aware of segregation to educate others. Once segregation becomes a way of life, we can avert the biggest of the garbage crisis,” states Shefali Dudhbade, an environmental activist and founding member of Nagpur-based Swachh Association in a conversation with The Better India.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)