SWM: Not 1, not 2, only the power of 3 bins works

One bin won’t work

First off, let’s see what happens if we throw all the waste into one bin: kitchen waste that includes liquids like curd and sambar, stale and spoiled food; plastic, paper, rubber, fabric, cosmetic containers and tubes, sanitary napkins, diapers, needles, syringes, condoms, hair and nail clippings; e-waste like bulbs and batteries, metal waste, construction debris and all other hazardous waste laden with harmful chemicals.

Here’s a question to segregation sceptics or denialists: How will you segregate this waste and send it to respective destinations? Even if you did so, what about all the contamination that will render the wet waste useless; in fact, hazardous?

Unfortunately, this is what has been happening and the only destination this mixed and heavily contaminated waste is being sent to is landfills. Some amount of contaminated wet waste is separated from this lot using power-driven tumblers and ‘composted’. Just think of its impact on the soil and the food that grows on it?





Two bins won’t work

Unfortunately, in many places, collection of waste happens in two bins: one for all biodegradable wet waste and another for all other including sanitary/bio-medical waste.

While it’s a notch above the one-bin trick, what’s unacceptable is the way all recyclable dry waste (plastic, paper, glass, e-waste, metal, fabric, rubber, glass, etc) is dumped along with contaminated sanitary/bio-medical waste. It’s a double whammy: It renders recyclable items un-recyclable and causes harm to the pourakarmikas and housekeepers. I have seen how our housekeepers suffer whenever people throw sanitary napkins and diapers into dry waste bin. Bringing in humanistic approach to how we dispose our waste is as important as yearning for clean surroundings.

Only the power of 3 bins works

From two bins, move on to three bins and put sanitary-biomedical waste into the third. No contamination and no loss of resources. Compost the wet waste, recycle the dry waste and send the hazardous waste for incineration. Efficient, isn’t it?

There are people who use more than three bins. It’s praiseworthy but unnecessary. Dry waste, if it’s clean, is easy to separate into various categories. Moreover, anything above three bins can be a hassle. It will tire people out and may force them back to one-bin trick. Three is sufficient.

Here’s the bottom line: When we are out to do something, we could as well do it right.

9 thoughts on “SWM: Not 1, not 2, only the power of 3 bins works

  1. I have observed cheap mattress makers who use cotton for filling – they buy used sanitary napkins, remove whatever is blood soaked and use the rest – sometimes ragpickers themselves do this business of separating dirtied up cotton from used sanitary napkins. This is indeed a very dangerous situation where hazardous waste gets into mainstream business and fooling people.

    We need a solution ASAP – it IS already getting out of hand


  2. Where does the 3rd bin go? I have seen hospitals and NGOs who work with medical patients have some organizations pick up the medical waste (like used syringe, bandages etc) but are you advising to mix this with used diaper and sanitary pads together with this? Will they pick up? What about other NGOs who don’t have medical waste but have lot of diaper and pads …. where does that go from 3rd bin? i have not seen any BBMP drives to pick these up unfortunately. Segregation is way to solution, but where is the solution 🙂 ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Amar, thanks for reading the post.

      All the waste that I said can be put into the 3rd bin must be sent for incineration. So there is no need to separate pads and diapers from needles/syringes. Semb-Ramky, the firm authorised to pick up incinerable waste from North Bangalore, does clearly specify how to store needles/syringes without pricking the non-chlorinated plastic bag meant for collecting this waste so that leakage doesn’t occur. That means there are dos and don’ts when it comes to storing these items separately. But not when it comes to incinerating them. Hospital waste also includes use-and-throw bedsheets which get picked up for incineration. I have visited Semb-Ramky’s incineration facility where all these items go into the firepit. I did not see any discrimination there.
      There are two incineration facilities in the city currently: Semb and Maridi, which have split their area of operation into north and south, etc. Please check which one caters to your area and sign up with them. Yelahanka is covered by Semb and our apartment signed up with them last June.
      Hope it helps.


      • Thank you for your response. Is there cost involved? This for an NGO Liza’s Home, taking care of mentally challenged and physically challenged women. Quantity wise may not be much. Currently I built them a fire pit. Long term solution would be any compost-able or biodegradable materials for diaper and pads, which I haven’t found success in locating 😦 Appreciate any pointers for this. God Bless

        Liked by 1 person

        • Amar, Yes, there is cost involved. Please check with them for specifics. Hope they agree to give you some discount since it’s for an NGO helping the special people. If you find the cost high, then please try to tie up with a nearby govt hospital and ask them to help you out. They may, given the cause and the small quantities (as you say). You could even seek corporator’s help or anyone who can help you with this.

          However, burning this waste in a firepit can be dangerous. Burning doesn’t mean incineration. Unless the waste is burned at a very high temperature like 1000 deg.C, it produces harmful gases including cancer-causing dioxins. At Semb-Ramky, I saw the hospital and other contaminated waste being incinerated at 800-1200 deg.C. So please give it a thought before using it for burning especially plastic (all diapers/pads contain various types plastic). When burned at low temperatures, plastic produces dioxins which are extremely harmful. These, plus other equally harmful gases, are the main reason why even developed countries (especially Germany) are saying no incinerators although their facilities are much more advanced with a lot of attention-to-detail gone in.

          Small fires that break out in landfills also release dioxins. We ignore thinking that it’s at least getting reduced to ashes. But the methane that builds up inside keeps burning the hazardous waste at low temperatures polluting the air. Dioxins are capable of finding their way into soil, food and water.

          There are eco-friendly pads being designed at Auroville, please Google for more details. Secondly, (I am not sure if this will be helpful), there are menstrual cups which are becoming popular. They are harmless and far more cost-effective involving no frequent disposal. Simply put, no comparison to the regular sanitary pads (shecup.com). Have not come across any compostable diapers though.


          • Thank you, yes am aware of fire pit issues, but had to build one – since they were just burning it on open ground which was dangerous. Am reluctant to build them a proper incinerator though and was looking for greener alternatives. Let me contact and get them to try alternatives for pads for now which should reduce the waste and towards more green. But I wonder about the masses in the cities where does all the urban children’s diaper go now? – Whats BBMP waste segregation say about this?. Rural children recycle/compost their waste thankfully even though unknowingly.

            Liked by 1 person

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