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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XX No. 22, March 1-15, 2011
Bins of cruelty
(By U. Thirunavukkarasu)

Clean cities and surroundings are what people always want. We dream of clean beaches, clean roads, clean shops and clean homes. The Governmental framework ­provides legal provisions and machinery to manage ‘Waste’. The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 guides the ‘municipal authority’ and ‘generator of wastes’ through Schedules I to III on various aspects of managing municipal solid wastes.

Schedule II of the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 ­focusses on collection, segregation, storage, transportation and ­disposal of municipal solid wastes.

In Schedule II, Collection of Municipal Solid Wastes (1), VIII, it is specified that “Stray animals shall not be allowed to move around waste storage facilities or at any other in the city or town and shall be managed in accordance with the State Laws”.

In the same schedule II, Clause 1, sub-clause 3 empha­sises that “It shall be the responsibility of generator of wastes to avoid littering and ensure delivery of wastes in accordance with the collection and segregation system…”

Clause 3 - Storage of Municipal Solid Wastes, sub clause (iii) says that “Storage facilities or ‘bins’ shall have ‘easy to operate’ design for handling, transfer and transportation of wastes.”

It further elaborates on colour coding of ‘Bins for storage’: “Biodegradable wastes shall be painted green, bins for recyclable wastes shall be painted white, and those for storage of other wastes shall be painted black”.

The rule does not elaborate much on size and dimensions of the bins except for giving some specifications for transportation.

Schedule II, Clause 4 on Transportation of municipal solid wastes, sub clause I, says that “The storage facilities set up by municipal authorities shall be daily attended for clearing of wastes. The bins or containers wherever placed shall be cleared before they start overflowing.”

Take a walk. Look around the streets of the city. Have a cup of tea in a ‘Fast Food’ restaurant and try to dispose of the disposable cup in a bin. You will be surprised to find that nothing the law advises or requires is fulfilled. Bins are in a riot of colours, some in many shapes and sizes, and are overflowing. Still worse, you may find a monkey embracing the garbage bin.

It is horrifying to note that garbage bins are designed like many scheduled animals. Bear, monkey, rabbit, fox, pelican, tree stump, swan and even penguin ... the list is endless. ‘Animal Garbage Bins’ open their mouths to swallow the garbage. Most of the bins are also labelled ‘Use me’ and ‘Garbage/dust bin’.

What are we trying to convey by modelling garbage bins after wild animals? Is it to attract the ‘generator of garbage’ to them? If so, it should not be at the cost of violating the law and creating a negative attitude towards animals. In fact, in the act of attracting the ‘generator of garbage’ to throw the garbage into a bin, we are also violating the very law which advocates management of municipal solid waste.

Think of conservation education. For example, a child in a park tries to throw garbage in an animal-shaped bin (a monkey with an open chest with a sign saying ‘use me’). The child throws the garbage in the bin, probably thinking that monkeys can receive garbage. In the future, if the same child sees an unfortunate live monkey nearby, there is every possibility that he may throw garbage at it.

The same is the case with other animal-shaped garbage bins and the negative attitudes created by them. Many of us have had the unfortunate privilege of hearing parents yelling out to their children, “Throw the chocolate paper in the penguin bin”.

Let us not assume that the phenomenon is happening only in shops and hotels. It is unfortunate to see beautiful penguins and monkeys sitting as garbage bins in railway stations, public utilities, zoological gardens, conserved areas and also even in children’s parks.

The bins may, in the long run, develop negative attitudes in the minds of young children. We may have to end up swallowing our own garbage in future.

Instead, let there be

• Uniform colour coding of garbage bins at every stage of municipal solid waste management.

• A ban on animal garbage bins.

• Uniform shapes (not size) for garbage storage and disposal.

• Streamlining of nomenclature for garbage segregation along with colour coding.

• Care taken in designing signages and utilities. (Courtesy: ECO News)


In this issue

Secrets of Tamil Nadu's Archives
No photographs, please, this is Chennai
Bins of cruelty
New uses for old buildings
A Home for ­Music
Masters of 20th Century Madras science
Why does Tamil Nadu keep failing?
Other stories

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Short 'N' Snappy
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