05/06/2015 1:42 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

World Environment Day: Recycling Your Phone Should Be Done Differently From Your Pizza Box

I didn't go in.

Kamal Meattle was told decades ago that Delhi’s air was killing his lung capacity. But he decided to stay on and improve the odds. Meattle ended up establishing one of Delhi’s greenest building, Paharpur Business Centre, which uses plants to manufacture its "mountain-fresh" quality air.

For World Environment Day, Meattle joined SunSource Energy's co-founder Adarsh Das, a prominent solar power activist, in an interview with HuffPost India to discuss a few basic recycling tips that every Indian could use.

“Indians don’t recycle in the modern era,” said Das. “But historically, as a civilisation, we have been great recyclers: In eastern India, a tradition still exists of throwing food trash into pukurs or little ponds that contained fish so it would be sustainably consumed.”

Meattle said that composting and backyard gardens have always been a part of Indian homes traditionally. “Did you know that pizza boxes and juice boxes cannot be recycled,” he said. “The grease and food waste soaked up by the cardboard can ruin the entire recycled cardboard batch, while juice boxes are coated with too much plastic to be recycled.”

On the other hand, newspapers, glass bottles, old wooden furniture, metal scrap and plastic, according to Das and Meattle, should be handed over to your kabadiwalla. Clothes, Das said, are not for the kabadiwalla, and it’s best to give them away to others who need them more.

Here are the carbon footprint-fighting duo’s tips on the basic do’s and don’ts of recycling:


1. Recycle daily to ensure that you make it a habit that lasts for life.

2. Segregate at source into three categories: Recyclables, non-recyclables, and sell or give away to kabadiwallas or reselling websites.

3. Get family, friends and colleagues on board – recycling alone is enough.

4. Try to manage organic and food waste by vermin composting them. The manure produced can be used for growing plants in your own home or sold in the market.

5. Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74 percent of the energy used to produce them. Recycle aluminium cans.


1. Don’t keep plastic caps of bottles on when recycling – it might cause safety hazards for the workforce who will be in the recycling unit.

2. Don’t recycle plastic-coated papers, food and candy wrappers, and wax-coated cups.

3. Don’t recycle ceramic dishes –up cycle them – use an old coffee mug as a planter.

(Or to store your cat).

4. Don’t abandon your electronics. Instead see if you can find a neighbourhood shop or Internet buyer.

5. Don’t use your recycle bin for food residue. (Just eat the entire thing instead.)

Contact HuffPost India