'Though residents’ response to waste segregation has improved over the past 11 years, it is still tepid’

“Segregation at source is the key to managing any kind of waste produced,” says Meenakshi Bharat, an environmentalist. “Why do you arrange files, clothes, books or even domestic provisions separately? To ensure easier accessibility and management. It is the same with garbage too. Waste that is not segregated is difficult to recycle.”

Among various attempts to reduce and recycle waste produced, its segregation into dry and wet waste is perhaps the easiest; yet, it is difficult to achieve.

Ejipura has set out to become a model waste management locality with two units of waste segregation and treatment to its credit.

“The city generates about 4,500 tonnes of waste every day and most of it is recyclable. There is no reason for garbage to lie on the streets,” says Wilma Rodrigues, founder of Saahas, which set up its first unit of waste segregation, ‘Kasa Rasa’, at Ejipura in 2011.

Reuse and recycle

Located on 300-sq. ft premises granted by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the centre converts waste materials such as paper, plastic, glass and packaging material into reusable resources. Organic waste is turned into manure, and sold. “The unit has a capacity to convert seven tonnes of dry waste a day, but is presently receiving only about 1.5 tonnes,” says Wilma.

The organisation has also recently begun an electronic waste collection drive that is picking up pace. “Selling off unwanted, used electronic gadgets such as monitors or CDs might fetch some small amount of money, but then the amount of toxic waste that will be generated if it is not properly disposed of is what one needs to consider,” she says.

While she admits that the response of residents has improved over the past 11 years they have been working, she still describes their attitude as tepid.

“Waste management is a much neglected household duty mainly because of lack of enforcement, but blaming authorities will not solve the problem,” she says. “We, as residents, have a responsibility to ourselves to keep our locality clean.”

The Kasa Rasa unit is open on all days of the week for people to come and drop off their waste. They also have a door-to-door collection system. “At least 20 houses in an area need to have segregated their waste for us to come and collect it. The van is sent every day for organic waste and thrice a week for dry waste. A nominal monthly fee is charged for transport,” explains Wilma.

Signs of hope

Convener of the Ejipura Residents Welfare Association S.J. Alcanther sees the Kasa Rasa unit as a hopeful sign for a cleaner neighbourhood. “About 400 houses of our neighbourhood have taken up segregation.”

In easy reach

According to Wilma, composting and segregation need not be difficult today with the kind of technology and services available.

“Composting can be done in a small corner of your own balcony and waste can be disposed of responsibly, even without stepping out of the house. Organic waste converters and leaf shredders can be installed in apartment complexes at costs that fall well within a resident’s budget,” she says. “Only, people need to become more aware.”

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