“Use the bin and keep your surroundings clean!” While this has been common knowledge, in today’s world it is just not enough to throw waste into a bin
It is now a practise in most apartment complexes to have garbage bins on every floor and in some cases even garbage chutes. However, Saahas when working with some residential apartments in the city found that the presence of bins and chutes in fact hindered the implementation of the waste management process.
The process of waste management begins with segregation at source. However to ensure that every household segregates, it is essential to have an effective waste collection system in place.
While garbage chutes and bins may make it easy for residents to dispose their garbage, it can make the process of segregation meaningless even if some residents do not follow the rules.
“People are so used to the convenience of a garbage chute that they were not open to any other system of garbage disposal, but we finally got the chutes closed” says volunteer from Divyashree Elan, an apartment complex on Sarjapur road. Similarly a volunteer from Balaji Pristine at Whitefield also mentions that they had to remove all the bins provided in the complex. In both cases, the door to door system of waste collection was established.
Let us take the case of an apartment complex with 8 houses on a floor. These 8 households are provided 3 bins to dispose their wet, dry and reject wastes respectively. There may be a scenario where 1 household does not follow segregation and merely dumps their mixed waste into the bin meant for wet waste. This could render the segregated wet waste deposited unfit for composting and the entire bin would have to be rejected. Besides it would also be difficult to identify which of the households was not segregating.
There are other issues too. Even segregated waste when kept for too long in stairways or corridors can raise a stench. There have been instances of garbage bins being knocked down by stray animals or children playing resulting in garbage being strewn around.
In the case of door to door collection of waste, residents are informed that their waste will be collected at a given time and are asked to keep their bins out only at that time. In this process it can be ensured that only segregated waste is accepted and also helps identify the households that do not segregate. Households having problems with the segregation process are provided necessary guidance and support. The segregated waste that is collected is accordingly treated, the wet waste composted, the dry waste sent for recycling and the rejects sent to landfills.
Implementing a waste management programme in a residential complex is no mean task. As a volunteer at Balaji Pristine suggests, “sometimes the only option we have is to allow people no choice at all.”