A big win for Bangalore’s green activists at HC; 2Bin1Bag, waste-pickers rule the roost


(L to R) Ex-cricketer Rahul Dravid joins the 2Bin1Bag campaign, saying, “it makes the job of segregation easy”. This is how full of smiles all the waste-pickers were at Hasiru Dala today.

The Year 2015 couldn’t have ended better!

In what can be termed a holistic and humane judgment, the Karnataka High Court today directed the city of Bangalore to adopt a three-tier, colour-coded segregation and gave the first right to recyclables to waste-pickers. The segregation at source rule applies to all—individual homes, bulk generators, commercial establishments, government offices, Railway, Defence, etc.

This much-awaited ruling in a city bogged down by garbage dumps and landfill issues over a public interest litigation ushered in a moment of celebration for all those who fought for ensuring holistic destination for all streams of waste. This entire battle was fought relentlessly by well-known activist Almitra Patel and members of the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT)—a forum of independent activists who have been working towards decentralising SWM in Bangalore since 2009.

2Bin1Bag concept upheld

The HC gave a thumbs-up to 2Bin1Bag—a three-way colour-coded concept that advocates segregating waste into as many categories: green for wet/organic, red for hazardous rejects and white for recyclable dry waste. This concept, championed by the SWMRT members, is already implemented in over 1,00,000 homes in the city and has been gaining traction beyond the state borders, too.

Waste-pickers heard

More importantly, even as the threat of hazardous waste-to-energy (WtE) technology-driven mega projects hovered over the embattled zone, both Almitra Patel and the bunch of activists from SWMRT whose members also include Hasiru Dala, Saahas, 2Bin1Bag and a few others, insisted on protecting the interests of the waste-pickers who act as the human interface between waste and waste-generators. As humane as it could get, the HC mandated that the right to recyclables went to the waste-pickers first.

Powerful ripple effects

The activists are hopeful that the HC ruling will have powerful ripple effects and for once, all for a positive change! Three-way segregation in itself means all streams of waste will reach proper destinations thereby mitigating its ill-effects on the environment. Further, this will encourage innovation of sustainable local solutions to treat the waste instead of encouraging dumping in landfills and roadsides.

The second important point in the ruling—upholding of the waste-pickers’ right to livelihood—means adopting a “no burn and no bury” policy.

Citizens’ support crucial

Although the 2012 BBMP legislation mandated segregation at source, implementation suffered due to lack of infrastructure to handle segregated waste at macro levels. However, there has been a significant change in the scene in just three years and we are now inching—slowly but surely—towards managing the city’s waste in the most responsible ways possible. There will still be a lot of hurdles to cross before the city frees itself from landfills, but a beginning had to be made. Today’s judgment actually puts the onus of protecting the city’s environment not just on the government, service-providers and other stake-holders, but also the citizens who have to do their bit to save their own living environment from going to ruins.

Let’s do our bit

It takes not more than 10 minutes of your attention a day to segregate waste into three categories. Let’s remember that it took each one of us to bring the city to this sordid state. It will take each one of us to bring it back to its past glory.


Well-known senior activist Almitra Patel endorses 2Bin1Bag concept advocating three-way segregation at source.

Please visit http://www.2bin1bag.in to know more about the colour-coded segregation.

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