Turning reckless dumping into an useful system


 The 'fling bag' culture of disposing household garbage on roadsides exposes the inadequacy of waste management infrastructure, but if the system was tweaked to receive the same waste, it would ensure a cleaner road network and environment.
Garbage managers looking from the other end of the spectrum admit that the obnoxious practice of roadside dumping is tarnishing Goa's image as a tourism destination. But instead of blaming "irresponsible citizens", the unsafe disposal can be turned into a useful system to cater to litterers.
The dump site or a place near it can be converted into a waste collection centre for the 'fling bag' tribe. "The litterers are actually delivering the waste from their homes, and receiving it properly would make it easier for segregation," a garbage manager said. Sorting out waste at the source is considered the golden rule for the success of waste management.
"It will bring about a great improvement as motorists and others littering the roadside can be told to bring segregated garbage," K D Sadhale of Ponda-based NGO Nirmal Vishwa said.
The NGO had suggested to civic authorities in the town the setting up of collection centres in each ward in stead of door-to-door collection. "The person manning the centre can make sure that people don't give mixed garbage," Sadhale said.
A major chunk of garbage received at waste treatment plants in Goa is mixed garbage and often ends up being harmfully burnt, dumped or buried in landfills. Waste bins are brimming over with mixed refuse, which becomes difficult and unmanageable for labourers to sort out later.
Littering may also be out of a lack of options. But a regular practice can develop into a good habit and a functional system in any locality. "A woman from Mardol who had lived abroad would cycle from her home to Ponda once a week to deposit the garbage in a bin," Sadhale said.
Voluntary participation in the management system can bring benefits to society. "As an option, collection centres will be a good system because they will save manpower," Sadhale said.
Agrees Rekha Joshi, a Ponda-based housewife. "Instead of spending money on costly systems, simple methods can save public money. People can hand over their waste even once a fortnight while travelling," she said.
Disposing of non-biodegradable waste, which constitutes a larger chunk of the waste, is a greater problem then wet waste. Every household can compost wet refuse in their backyard or compound, though it may pose a problem in high rise buildings.
The systems to set up waste collection should be at both levels, urban and rural. "Certain villages have no systems and no access to disposal mechanisms," Clinton Vaz, a garbage management consultant, said.
Pradip Sarmokadam, a researcher and solution provider in waste management, has identified inadequacies in the system. His team carrying out door-to-door collection in a Bardez village has plans for a separate arrangement to allow residents to hand over their waste in each ward.
"After daily door-to-door collection around 9am, more waste may be generated in the household later in the day, which people would like to dispose of properly rather than keep it at home or dump it irresponsibly," he said. Sarmokadam sees advantages in handing over discards at a collection centre. "An old jacket can be used by somebody else, but if dumped in a bin, it becomes waste," he said.
An official agreed that lower-end systems like this help waste management, but an integrated system is needed to tie up the loose ends. "The government is identifying technology to find permanent solutions instead of just cosmetic changes," the official said. [TOI]