2 October 2012

Segregating waste - Help the BBMP Bangalore

Rarely do I see a bulletin from the powers that be on an issue that I feel deeply about: Garbage.

From Oct 1 onwards, only segregated waste will be accepted by BBMP. There's talk about how large apartment complexes will have to manage their own wet waste. I am not sure what rules apply to us. Anyway, we got a flyer talking about the six types of waste and when they would be picked up in our ward.

I made a half-hearted attempt few months ago with my apartment association about segregating waste; with the legal impetus, we now have common purpose. While there are a number of critiques about the proposed plan - the most difficult being a rushed deadline to comply rather than a gradual introduction - it's a decent start, and we must support it. 

Newspapers have carried detailed information about how to segregate your waste. But the # 1 question for me has been - how will it go from my apartment, to a pourkarmika/ garbage pick up contractor? With dry waste, storage issues are more about space; with wet though, the stink would be an issue. 

We plan in our building to have two bins assigned to each home. Dry and wet. It's the owner's responsibility to rinse out the bins. I still worry though that collecting this stuff, sans a plastic cover (prohibited by the law), will be a feast for rodents. Even a single day that it remains piled up will attract pests.

Just for the record though, this is how we manage our waste:

1. Wet waste
All organic kitchen stuff including spoiled sambhar, crisped-up rotis go into the compost. In the kitchen we have a container where this stuff is collected. Receipts, miscellaneous paper cut into strips is used as the dry matter. If you maintain a good ratio between the dry and wet, this mixture does not smell! Every 2 - 3 days, these contents are put into the Khamba. The waste compresses tremendously as it composts; the bottom pit of this khamba held about 6-8 months of our daily vegetable waste. Once matured, this compost is put away to be used in the garden, or can be spread about near the trees or gardens in the neighbourhood. 

2. Dry waste: We have a system for this:

Anything that makes money, my maid takes away. The incentive is that she gets to keep the money she makes from it. P, our maid, tells me she makes about a hundred rupees a month from the stuff she sells from our home. She sells: newspapers, plastic bottles, beer bottles (unfortunately, only kingfisher is worth much), milk plastic bags.

Newspapers we store indoors, so they don't get damp.

Milk packets are given a quick rinse, dried on the clothes line and then put into a separate bag.

Receipts, confidential letters, get into a bag to be used as dry waste in the compost.

Plastic bags, juice cartons, cardboard cereal boxes are put away in a bag. Everything is rinsed with hot water, or cold and then stored. Otherwise it attracts ants. The rinse-water is used for the plants.

Garden waste is put back into the compost.

With the BBMP's new system, we have a home for the dry waste that P can't sell - like wine bottles, miscellaneous plastic etc. Also, we never practiced safe methods with sanitary waste, which I am happy to put into practice (we hand it over in a paper bag marked with a big red cross)

All this may sound overwhelming to someone who has not lived in a system where recycling works, and thinks that as long as garbage is not in their house, it's not their problem. Waste segregation requires commitment, self-awareness and discipline. But with time, it becomes a habit.

Cultivate your habit Bangalore.