Segregation of wastes at source refers to separating garbages into dry and wet wastes into green and blue bins respectively. Although this concept is quite effective and is followed strictly by many eastern and western countries but this practice in India is still limited to textbooks and some big metropolitan cities.
In small cities and even in densely -populated cites garbage is collected in municipality trucks but it is not directly taken to dumping yards, instead it is left to accumulate. Then comes the entry scene of rag pickers. They are the one who do the work left by municipality and segregate metals, plastics, papers-yet they do this for earning a day’s meal but segregation of waste at the source may have reduced this double labour.
The big companies which get a lot of admiration for using plastic and metal scrap and recycle it to make new objects actually have a dark side of which we blissfully are unaware of. These companies contact local leaders which employ minor children and poor women at very low wages to separate metal scraps, used bottles, papers and other recyclable material.
The heaps of garbage which municipality leaves to adorn the corners of street with odour and suffocation, also affect the common people residing nearby. There is greater risk of diseases to these people and the environment is polluted as a result.
It is pathetic to see children collecting scraps in areas where our noses get numb due to stinking smell and our hands automatically cover our nose.
This unsegregated garbage had also forced many families into their old occupation – the stigma through which they were trying to overcome – ‘Manual scavengers’. Our laws had already banned the old practice of ‘Maila Dhona’ i.e. Manual scavenging but these unsegregated wastes choke not only drains of cites but also the path of rehabilitation for these group of people. Their job is considered to be a dirty one as it involves going down in sewer without any protection, gloves or masks and cleaning the choked drains with basic tools.
This unsegregated waste can also affect the lives of people of a whole city. A recent example of this is the flood in Patna previous year. It rained heavily in almost all parts of Bihar that year but in Patna the streets were logged with water till neck. This was because all the drains in the city were clogged with plastic and immediately many people were employed to clean the drains. At first glance this problem might not appear to be related to garbage segregation but if one thinks insightfully he/she will directly be able to relate the two problems.
According to data from Google about seventy percent of India’s plastic could have been recycled but actually only thirty percent of it reaches the recycling factories. One of the main reasons is waste not being segregated at source. Also our valuable workforce is used to separate rags from garbage. The organic waste which could have been converted into compost, rots at corners of lanes spreading it’s pungent odour until someone comes to separate it out of plastics and scraps. Waste segregation at source can reduce transportation cost and emissions, and increase the life of landfills. Also segregated wastes reduces health and safety related risks to waste pickers and ecosystem around the waste treatment and disposal sites.
Government is now also concerned about this burning issue of waste separation at source and is making many policies and programmes to cope up with it. Our Prime Minister has also glorified the job of cleaning staff by naming them as ‘Swachchhagrahis’ and awarding them for their good deeds.
Also Corona Pandemic had arisen awareness in people for cleanliness and they are becoming more concerned about waste segregation.
Clean India, Green India.