Garbage segregation: the basics

Garbage disposal  

Wet: Biodegradable kitchen waste like fruit/vegetable peels, tea leaves, coffee powder, egg shells, meat and bones, food scraps; also leaves and flowers. Can be composted.

Dry: Paper, plastic, metal, glass. Can be recycled. (Paper can also be composted.)

80% : of our garbage falls into these two categories.

Reject: Broadly, anything that isn’t biodegradable or can’t be recycled. Includes diapers (human waste contains bacteria and pathogens; composters don’t generate enough heat to break those down), sanitary pads (most brands will have a combination of natural and synthetic material), bulbs (toxic coatings), and e-waste.

Segregating waste

1 bin for wet waste. Don’t use plastic bin liners. If you can’t get compostable bin liners, use newspaper.

1 bag for dry. Important: rinse biodegradable matter off dry waste — eg.: takeaway food containers — otherwise it becomes difficult to recycle and will be rejected by recyclers. Wrap sharp items like broken glass in newspaper or a box before discarding, or it can cause injury to you, your house help, garbage collectors or rag-pickers.

1 bin for reject.

Label your dustbins clearly, so that it’s easy for family, guests and house help to remember what goes where.

Disposing of waste


You can turn wet waste into compost in less than 30 days. Mix nitrogen-rich kitchen waste with carbon-rich materials such as paper, dry leaves or cocopeat. You could use a large bin or buy a composter. Prices start at around ₹1,500. Some brand names: Daily Dump, Smartbin Air, Orbin and D-ERT. Smaller ones can be placed in a balcony or window grill. Smartbin Air can be kept in the kitchen if space is available. Most composters come with a composting agent, a powder which usually contains cocopeat with good bacteria and enzymes that speed up the breakdown of the wet waste. When compost is ready, it looks like soil and has an earthy smell. If the compost smells bad, it means the nitrogen content is high; simply add more agent or carbon-rich matter to balance it out.

If you don’t have space within your home to compost, your housing society or neighbourhood can allocate space in open common areas for all residents to use.


Hand over your recyclable items to a local recycler or waste management NGOs such as Stree Mukti Sanghatana.

Information courtesy Divya Ravichandran of, a provider of waste management solutions to offices and events in Mumbai.


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 5:25:38 PM |

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