Segregation: A Primer

Photo credit: 2 Bin 1 Bag

The city of Bangalore has been a pioneer in building ideas around solid waste management (SWM). This has largely been due to its tremendously active citizens who have been campaigning for improved waste management in the city. One of the successes of this campaign has been the 2 BIN 1 BAG method. This method simplifies the process of segregation so that it can be easily undertaken by anyone without too much of a hassle. This method has been so successful that not only has the Karnataka High Court given it a thumping seal of approval, but many people outside of Bangalore have also begun using this method as a guide to segregate and reduce waste!

The 2 BIN 1 BAG method is really simple. Like its name suggests, it involves using 2 BINS – one GREEN and one RED; and, 1 BAG.

GREEN BIN: This is for your organic waste which is usually about 60% of your waste. Organic waste is biodegradable matter that can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, methane or simple organic molecules by micro-organisms and other living things by composting or similar processes. Examples

  • Kitchen waste
  • Garden waste

Remember: Keep the GREEN BIN in a convenient spot in your kitchen so that you can easily collect your waste there. Ensure that you do not use a plastic liner for this bin. Instead use a bin with a cover so that flies don’t enter your home. You wash the bin the way you wash your other food vessels, once its been emptied. Your organic waste can either be given to the local waste collector  or an even better option is to compost it yourself!

WHITE BAG: This is for your recyclable waste. This means waste which can be reused as raw materials to make new products. This saves energy and reduces pollution. Recyclables include items made of:

  • Plastic
  • Paper
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Other items: ceramics, wooden chips, coconut shells etc.
  • E-waste, batteries, CDs, bulbs: You need to separate these out and inform the collector as e-waste is a bit more complicated and will require further segregation and care.

Remember: Keep the items in this section clean and dry. Dirty or soiled items do not have value as recyclables plus you also ensure that people who handle your waste ahead can do it in a hygenic manner. 

RED BIN: This bin is for ‘rejects’. All the items that do not fit in the above two categories, is put into the red bin. Red bin items may include:

  • Sanitary waste: like diapers, pads, bandages, medicines, swept dust
  • Some soiled mixed waste that cannot be included in the previous sections.
  • Sharp items: Razors, syringes, blades, glass.
  • Construction material: leftover paints, chemicals, broken pots, bricks, silt etc. 

Remember: Items in this section may include those that maybe be toxic or dangerouns to handle. Ensure that any broken sharp items are carefully wrapped in newspaper and then handed over. In the case of toxic materials, ensure that you inform the waste collector about these items and hand them over separately. It is also important to note that some of these items can only be given in small quantities. If you have a lot of construction debris then you will have to organise a specialised collector to come and collect those materials from your home. 

If all our waste is unsegregated, then most of it will end up in landfills and incinerators. If we segregate as per the 2 BIN 1 BAG method – then only 5-10% of your waste i.e. the RED BIN items will go to landfills and incinerators. This means reducing your waste footprint on your city waste landfills by a massive 90-95%! 

Replace your plastic bag in the bin with a newspaper bin-liner. Click here to see how you can make it.

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For further details on the 2 BIN 1 BAG method, do visit their website. It is full of wonderfully useful tools and ideas for individuals and communities to shift to better waste management methods.