Explained: What do three coloured dustbins mean and why India needs it urgently

There is a pressing need to educate people on how to separate domestic garbage

On September 1, a large portion of a garbage dump collapsed in Delhi’s Ghazipur killing two people and sweeping several others who were on a road nearby into a canal. Every type of waste – from solid urban domestic waste to sewage and industrial waste – is mismanaged and has become a mammoth problem on the face of rapid urbanization. Still, many toss garbage from their balconies or rooftops and dump the waste open in streets.

India’s urban population of 429 million citizens produce a whopping 62 million tonnes of garbage every year. Out of this, 5.6 million tonnes is the plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is the biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes is hazardous waste and 15 lakh tonnes is e-waste.

According to an estimate, 40% of municipal waste in the city is ‘wet’ waste, which can easily be composted and used as manure. Nearly 30% of the municipal waste comprises of plastic and metal, which can be sent to an authorised dealer for recycling, and about 20% of it is e-waste, from which precious metals can be taken apart and recycled. However, out of the total municipal waste collected, 94% is dumped on land and only 5% is composted.

PM Narendra Modi in his monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat had said that 4,000 towns were to see new litter bins for segregated waste on June 5, the World Environment Day. He also said that two types of waste bins will be made available in green and blue colour, for liquid and dry waste respectively.

However, citizens of Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Pune and Coimbatore, appealed to the Prime Minister to do away with this two-way segregation of waste, and adopt a three-way model instead. One of the major drawbacks of two coloured bin is that people dump sanitary napkins and diapers in the blue colour bin meant for dry waste and led to its contamination. It also undermines the dignity of labour and increases the efforts of rag pickers who have to undergo the menial task of segregating the wastes.

There is a pressing need to educate people on how to separate domestic garbage. It needs to be told that a fused bulb and leftover food cannot be thrown in the same bin. Also, it’s equally important to separate wet waste from dry filth. We all need to take responsibility for our own waste and recycle as much as we possibly can.

Here is the information you need to determine which kind of waste goes to which colour-coded bin:

1. Green Bin

The green coloured bin is used to dump biodegradable waste. This bin could be used to dispose off wet/organic material including cooked food/leftover food, vegetable/fruit peels, egg shell, rotten eggs, chicken/fish bones, tea bags/coffee grinds, coconut shells and garden waste including fallen leaves/twigs or the puja flowers/garlands will all go into the green bin.

2. Blue bin

The blue coloured bin is used for segregating dry or recyclable left over. This category includes waste like plastic covers, bottles, boxes, cups, toffee wrappers, soap or chocolate wrapper and paper waste including magazines, newspapers, tetra packs, cardboard cartons, pizza boxes or paper cups/plates will have to be thrown into the white bin. Metallic items like tins/cans foil paper and containers and even the dry waste including cosmetics, hair, rubber/thermocol (polystyrene), old mops/dusters/sponges.

3. Black bin

Black bin, make up for the third category, which is used for domestic hazardous waste like sanitary napkins, diapers, blades, bandages, CFL, tube light, printer cartridges, broken thermometer, batteries, button cells, expired medicine etc.