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Wholistic view of the waste management system in Ahmedabad, India. Story of how small plastic items get inseparably mixed with other waste.

Photo of Shivani Chakrachhattri
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We went to study the waste collection process as a whole.

Collection / Transportation / segregation / incineration is what we follow, which is a bit different from the text-book method of waste management which is 

Collection/ Transportation / Treatment / Disposal

 We studied the collection of waste from the roadside area. First the roads the swept with a broomstick, large collectable items are picked up and are kept in multi-bin hand-movable garbage container. And with leftovers a small heaps of garbage is made at the side of the road. The heap contains small plastic packages, bottle caps, dry leaves, broken branches, from near by trees, dust particle etc.  Two plates made of iron/aluminium (Called ‘patra’ in local language) in combination are used to manually pick the heap of waste form road and put into metal hand-movable container. The manually picking is very inefficient and even after 2-3 attempts of picking the heap around 10-15% of material get unpicked.

The leftovers mostly sooner and later move into the drainage system and are the one of the reason for drainage clogging.

All the collected waste is shifted into the community bin, which are kept along roadside. The process is to unload the garbage in hand moveable container on a piece of cloth and then two people pick it up and unload the waste in the big container. This process is also very ineffective and results into spilling of small items. 

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

This research tires to unearth the systemic reason behind these plastic items ending up outside the cleaning process, even when constant efforts are made to clean those up.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

We have observed that in the current system, collection of waste items from residential areas and roadside is done in multiple steps resulting in a lot of waste as "unaccountable". For instance, if 10% waste is left while filling up, and there are 4 steps in the whole process, imagine the amount of waste left out during this process. This phenomenon has to be addressed.

Tell us about yourself

I am product designer. My partner is a supply chain consultant. We hope to give more power to this initiative.


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Hi Shiva!

There are 3 days left in the ideas phase of the circular design challenge! It would be great to see your ideas there, submit your idea via -

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