Friday, October 03, 2008

Learn the Art of Separation

Slowly but surely we seem to be making a difference. In the past few weeks, we’ve had a few proactive citizens call us up and let us know that they are interested in putting a waste management system into place on their own. Proactive citizens such as a few residents of the Nagali Hills Colony at Taleigao have already started to recycle their dry waste generated from their households. All I had helped them do was link them to a recycler in that area that would take the recyclable fractions of their dry waste, and they took it forward from there. On the other side of the Zuari, I recently got 3 months of my stockpiled dry waste recycled by a recycler that actually came to my home in Benaulim, weighed each fraction and paid me Rs. 260 for it all.

When I was researching the aspect of financial recovery by recycling, I had come to the conclusion that an average Goan household of 4-5 persons would be able to generate roughly Rs. 100 per month by recycling their waste. Recycling your waste is simple, if you know how to do it, and know who takes it for reuse. Unfortunately, not all your recyclable waste is taken by the same recycler. Therefore it’s important to know recycling details about each type of waste fraction.

After Separation At Source (SAS) is done, you need to get rid of your dry waste by recycling. Classifying your recyclable waste into different categories such as plastic, metal and glass is known as separating by waste ‘fractions’. While the most simple methods of waste SAS would require one to separate one’s waste into just 2 waste fractions (such as dry & wet waste), most of Europe ask’s its citizens to separate their household waste into 6-10 different fractions, and in Japan, certain municipalities ask citizens to separate it into as much as 38 different fractions!

While it is true that having more waste fractions help in better financial recovery, having more fractions need not necessarily be better, as it can sometimes lead to confusion in the minds of the household members. Imagine a small middle class family in Goa with 38 different waste bins, all colour coded for each category!

In Goa, due to an absence in any official system, it’s possible to set your own number of fractions that you want to separate your dry waste into. However, it is usually better to work from the bottom-up approach. Speak to a recycler in your neighborhood and ask him about the fractions he accepts. Then, accordingly choose the number of fractions you would use in your own Waste Management System at home. You also need to consider the amount of space required for placing a number of bins at your home.

At my home, I find it best to separate my dry waste bin into the following categories:
Bin 1 – Newspapers
Bin 2 – Mixed Paper & Magazines
Bin 3 – Cardboard & Cartons
Bin 4 – TetraPak Cartons
Bin 5 – Soft Plastics (Plastic Carry Bags)
Bin 6 – P.E.T. Bottles
Bin 7 – Hard Plastics (All grades & varieties)
Bin 8 – Metal (All types & metals)
Bin 9 – White / Uncoloured Glass
Bin 10 – Coloured Glass
Bin 11 – Electronic Waste, Batteries & Inkjet Cartridges
Bin 12 – Non Recyclable Waste

Based on the above separations, its possible for my recycler to come by and take the waste from bins 1,2,3,6,7,8,9,&10. He pays me a fixed price per kilo per assigned category. I then take waste from bins 5 & 6 to the Pet Bottle collection centers (located at two locations in Goa at Colva and Below the Mandovi Bridge) where I get refunded for both fractions. Whenever I visit Panjim, I usually take waste from bin 4 to the TetraPak bailing center at St. Inez. This leaves me with waste from bin 11, that I hand over to consumer forums that are campaigning for roper management of hazardous waste and I dispose contents of bin 12 in the nearest municipal bin, as that’s the most responsible thing to do rather than throwing it into the environment.

At times, it can be difficult to know what waste ought to be put in what fraction bin. It could also be dangerous or hazardous to put items in the wrong fraction. This is when sorting lists become useful. Sorting lists can be made on your own by first doing a household waste inventory, and then simply classifying what waste goes into what fraction with the help of a recycler or a waste management expert. Many progressive municipalities around the world have now developed their own sorting lists for their citizens. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that certain municipalities in cities such as Stockholm, Toronto, Auckland have actually come out with picture and info filled booklets devoted to helping their citizens sort their own waste!! I’d be glad to share my own household waste sorting list next week, and perhaps my list will help you separate your own waste easily. Until next week, happy recycling!

Let's hear from you! Email or You can even post a letter to us at 'Goa Going Green' C/o Arati Das, Gomanatak Times, Gomantak Bhavan, St. Inez, Panjim, Goa

Photocredit: Clinton for 1 & 2. This is the 4th article in the eco-talk series that appears on a weekly column on Gomantak Times. This article appeared on GT, 3rd October, 2008 Pg. A10

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