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Blog of Mathews Jacob

Household Waste Management

Posted on: November 15, 2020

We usually blame our local self-government bodies for the garbage getting piled up at roadsides and public place. Of course, it’s the prime responsibility of the local self-government bodies to devise a system to collect garbage and process systematically and to implement and monitor the system. And, most of them don’t do much on this matter. However, in my opinion, more than the LSG bodies, each one of us is to be blamed for the current situation. We have made it so complicated that no LSG body could resolve the issues in any way.

The Present Scenario

I am inclined to avoid two roads of my neighbourhood as a point on each of these roads is used as garbage dumping area. Though these two roads are shorter distance roads to town I normally take another protracted route which is about 200 meters longer. It’s because I don’t want to see the pathetic situation of the place I have been around since my childhood. Since the width of these roads is 6 meters, some of the garbage bags deposited at the roadside move towards the asphalt area within a few hours. Street dogs for whom this is the source of food become instrumental to bringing the bags to the middle of the road in a few hours. As a result, vehicles passing through the road run over the garbage bags and the contents are spilled all over the road literally. Larger component of this waste is diapers of babies and bed ridden adults. The diapers are not sealed properly and as such a bad odour prevails in the area.

Waste Dump on Road
Waste dumped near Illathupadi Transformer on Kannamkode-Holy Angels Road Adoor

We can see that along with diapers there are some other waste material too that could have recycled if they were not contaminated. But now who would undertake a segregation of that sort! And, without segregating this waste how anyone from Municipality can dispose it. Periodically, they come and landfill the waste at the roadside itself after a little bit of excavation.

How can anybody blame the Municipal authorities for this menace? Suppose large waste bins were kept at these points by Municipality to collect garbage. Will it help in any way if the garbage deposited in the bin is not segregated? This is the reason why I blame citizens rather than LSG authorities.

Waste is Gold. Yes, nothing is absolute waste. Many things we consider waste are reusable and recyclable that will have a value. Components of waste such as plastic, paper, metallic objects are reusable or recyclable. Anything that can be reused or recycled can be of some value. Wet kitchen waste may appear to be absolute waste and people may look at it as disgusting. That is because organic waste and food waste decay easily and in no time at all. But even that wet waste can be converted to something worthy and that process is Composting.

Everything Starts at Home; Not at Municipality

But, in my opinion the general public should be more blamed than the LSG bodies for the situation currently prevailing in Kerala. We, the public, is responsible for a proper waste handling system in our home, the source of garbage. There are certain responsibilities on the shoulders of those who generate waste. The person who is producing the waste has a responsibility to ensure that the waste is properly handled and disposed. No LSG person can come to each home and make us do it. Elected members will never do it fearing that next time we will not cast our votes to them if provoked in that manner. Unless we, every member of the public takes the responsibility of waste handling, no system can succeed.

The main mistake we commit is mixing up everything. We put the plastic, paper, glass bottles, kitchen waste, diapers of babies and diapers of our old bedridden grandparents and everything else into one bag and dispose it at the roadside or at a public place in the after hours of the day. The problem starts here. No LSG can do something to that waste other than transport it to some isolated place nearby and landfill. And, that process is the main reason for greenhouse gas and other sort of pollution to the environment.

Kitchen waste Bin
Waste Bin in a Kitchen Mixing Up Everything including Plastic With Wet Waste; a Wrong Practice

Instead, if we collect the waste in different containers at the source itself, our homes will become heaven on earth. There is no need of making such a home vasthu compliant as that home has already become a vasthu compliant and blessed home by merely handling the waste in a proper manner. So, the need for segregation of waste at source can’t be overemphasized and that is the key for solution to this problem.

Waste Dump at Backyard
Waste Dump at the Backyard of a House Where Mixup of All Categories of Waste is Visible; Another Wrong Practice

What’s the Way Out?

The belief that the magic wand is with Corporation/Municipality/Panchayath is a misconception. On the other hand, every citizen should comprehend the fact that all over the world, people who create the waste is responsible for disposing it properly. To facilitate this, some changes should happen in the attitude and behaviour of every citizen.
• Citizens should accept the fact that the more waste she/he creates the more responsible she/he becomes. Therefore, waste generated by a person should be bare minimum. In other words, reduce the waste.
• The person should take the ultimate responsibility to dispose the waste she/he creates in a responsible manner.
• Reusing/Recycling of most things we consider as Waste is possible. If we can’t do this, at least we should collect those items and hand over to persons/agencies who can do it.
• Reusing/Recycling will bring down the quantity of waste to be disposed and render the disposal method more effective
• Waste should be segregated based on its type, reusability or recyclability. Segregated waste should be stored in different bins to avoid cross contamination.

What is segregation of waste and how it’s to be done?

Segregation of waste involves storing the waste in different waste bins for different methods of processing or handling. Basically, waste must be categorised as below.

Categorization of Waste for Segregation

1. Dry Waste

(a) Recyclable:

Newspapers, plastic bags, glass bottles, tires, cutlery, shoes, chappals etc are dry waste of recyclable nature.

(b) Non-Recyclable:

Used paper towels, containers of hazardous chemical, wreckage of dishes and glass bottles are examples of dry waste that are not recyclable.

2. E-Waste:

E-Waste can be further categorised into the following:
Bulky: Refrigerators, Microwave Ovens, Washing Machines, Large TV Sets etc things that are heavy to move around.
Hazardous: Fluorescent Lamps/Tube lights, light bulbs, toner cartridges, batteries, monitor/screens etc that have chemical components.
Non-hazardous: Chargers, cables, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, CDs, pen drives etc.

3. Sanitary and Medical Waste:

Diapers of adults as well as babies, sanitary napkins, condoms, tampons, medical waste such as linens and bedding contaminated with blood or body fluids, used plaster/bandages, used razors etc. are Sanitary and Medical waste. This waste is to be incinerated. If it’s a community living, there should be a common incinerator for this purpose. Always bear in mind that diapers for adults is a latest innovation and its intention is to make the old age care easier. At the end of the day, it should not be a weapon to punish the public of the neighbourhood. We should not throw diapers with its contents in a public place. The contents should go to our toilet and reach the septic tank. The emptied diapers should be incinerated in a controlled manner ensuring very less inconvenience to the neighbours.

4. Wet Waste/Kitchen Waste:

This is the waste produced in kitchen like vegetable/fruit peels and food leftovers. Dry leaves from plants and trees also fall into this category. Disposal of this category of waste should be either through bio-gas plants or composting.

Composting of Wet/Kitchen waste helps reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) and support greening of the entire community. It will also provide natural and harmless fertilizer for farming and gardening. Compost as an organic material has the power to revitalise the soil making it suitable for cultivation/gardening.

Disposal Methods

Each category of waste should be collected in separate containers and processed following different methodologies.

Methods of disposal can be tabulated as given below.

Sl Type of Garbage Disposal Method
1 Dry Waste Recyclable Centralized Collection Agencies
2 Dry Waste Non-Recyclable- Paper Incinerate at Home or Community Incinerator
3 Dry Waste Non-Recyclable- Other Centralized Collection Agencies
4 E-Waste Centralized Collection Agencies
5 Sanitary and Medical Waste Incinerate at Home or Community Incinerator
6 Wet Waste/Kitchen Waste Bio-Gas Plants or Compost


The centralized collection is the only thing local self-government bodies can undertake at present. However, they may organize extensive campaigns continuously at ward level to raise awareness about segregation of waste at source and methods of disposal of each category of waste. The state should pass laws if necessary, to make the producer of waste responsible for segregating the waste at source and render mix up of different categories of waste and irresponsible disposal of waste punishable offences. Also, the novel idea of composting at each home should be encouraged and supported.

The public should be aware of the danger of mixing up the waste of different categories. If everything is collected in one bin, the Sanitary/Medical Waste and Wet/Kitchen Waste will certainly contaminate the recyclable waste and hence defeat the very concept of recycling.