A ready reckoner for recycling

Perhaps, it was the long months of working from home; or it was frustration over an ineffective system that turned into inspiration, or it was that ever-active friend nudging you in the right directio

Published: 06th April 2021 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th April 2021 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Perhaps, it was the long months of working from home; or it was frustration over an ineffective system that turned into inspiration, or it was that ever-active friend nudging you in the right direction. And now you find yourself tumbling into the world of waste management and there’s trouble right at the start — source segregation. Kannalmozhi Kabilan asks waste management wizards from Earth Recyclers and Trashman to offer help.

Categories within categories

While there is no need to separate waste by material (say, light bulbs and batteries), you might have to sort out items of the same material as per the list above (glass separate from light bulbs). Given that different kinds of plastic items are the most common waste generated in the house, it is important to separate plastic bags from plastic bottles and other solid plastic products, suggests Santharam, one of the five men behind Trashman.

Know your waste

The most common faux pas in the scheme of source segregation happens to be dumping all non-biodegradable waste together and calling it a day. While most often than not people are aware that e-wastes need to be processed differently from the rest, they still end up sending it all to one place. And it’s all downhill from there, naturally.

“Waste segregation and recycling in India has been operating through an informal chain — from ragpickers who sort through public garbage bins and roadside garbage piles to scrap dealers who purchase easily recyclable, high-value waste from rag pickers. Most of them are not formally trained and are not aware of the latest recycling technologies and opportunities available, thereby missing out on many low-value, recyclable materials such as thermocol, multi-layered plastic (MLP), foam, worn-out beds (mattresses), leather scrap, torn bags, etc., that would finally be dumped at landfills or incinerated. Used tissue papers, paper cups, Tetra Pak and more, if segregated, can be recycled into new products,” points out Mohammed Dawood, founder of Earth Recycler.

1.Recyclable material
Glass, bottles, cans, paper, metals, certain plastic, etc

2.Composite waste
Tetra Pak, plastic from toys, waste clothing

3.Composite waste
Tetra Pak, plastic from toys, waste clothing

4.Inert waste
Dirt, rocks, construction and demolition waste (C&D waste), debris.

5.Domestic hazardous and toxic waste
E-waste, bio-medical waste, light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, shoe polish, chemicals, paints, batteries, fertilizers and pesticide containers, spray cans, etc.

Get on board

Back to basics
If you’re all too overwhelmed with these categories or if your needs are much smaller, you can begin with the two bag system — one for plastics and one for paper.

Rinse it out
Items like pickle jars, food packaging, milk packets, toothpaste tubes, shampoo bottles and such should be cleaned of any food residue or organic matter before disposal. This is, naturally, to ensure that the recyclables are truly ‘dry’ waste.

Crush it not
In the case of quality paper, refrain from crumpling it up before you throw it in the recycling bin. The more intact the paper, the more its recycling value. While bottles, cans and tins eventually get crushed at the recycling factory, you don’t have to do it yourself. Let the machine take over.

Talk to an expert
When in doubt, refer to the information available on the Internet or talk to establishments that deal with waste management. This way, you’ll be able to find a solution that fits your needs.

Reuse where you can
The cost of recycling certain items like glassware can be quite high. But, given its durability and versatility, it only makes sense to make the most of what you have in hand. Meanwhile, some products cannot be recycled — like paper clips and steel sponges. These too would do for multiple uses.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp