#CivIL Waste Management Workshop: Accosting the Wicked Problem!

People from various sectors including technology, governance, policy-makers, activists as well as the users need to come together effectively to deal with the wicked problem of garbage! With that undertone, the workshop on waste and garbage management saw experts and activists advocating different ideology of waste management and debating on the most efficient way to deal with the hazard.

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The workshop started with participants introducing them and their expertise. Each expert was then asked to make a ten minute presentation, talking about their understanding of the problem and their contribution in rectifying it.

Here are a few excerpts from the expert presentations:

• We need to draw attention to the million tons of time and dead inventories that are considered trash and ignored.
• Sad state of the trash disposed by the various corporations.
• Propagate the theory of reusing over discarding. There is a use for everything, period.
• It is important to consider the dignity of people. Not everything should be reused (examples: undergarments, blood soaked clothes/ sanitary pads)
• Wake up to the idea of recycling urban furniture waste and selling it to rural consumers. There is a lot of demand and very less supply. Urban furniture is high end and has few takers in villages whereas basic furniture like table, chair, and cupboard has in huge demand.
• There is dearth of data on impact(consumption)
• There is an evident lack of a thought process.
• There is a lack of ‘trash consideration’
• Government lacks co-ordination and determination. Creating trust in people will lead to mind change.
• Considering people who deal with our waste, humanly is vital. Kiran Kaushal from Chintan, an NGO that closely works with waste pickers spoke about how her NGO is working towards the social and economic and legal upliftment of them.
• Will automation of the waste disposal process create a lack of job for the waste pickers who have no other form of livelihood? Or should training them with the machines be more humane and a better approach?
• Government does not want to deal with many people and agencies taking care of small areas instead they want a system wherein one agency is looking after one region (say the entire South Delhi) . This shows lack of consideration of the waste pickers.
• The three steps to waste management include- solution, implementation, and supervision. Ensuring the three steps will lead to a success.IMG_1416
• Saurav from GreenBandhu, spoke about how technology and innovation could play a better role in dealing with the problem and how there are economically viable solutions out there that can be used by the users to segregate and recycle their waste without any meddling by the policy makers. He opined that NGOs and Policy makers cannot solve the problem and it is better to introduce users to the solutions directly so that there is some change.
• The fact that there are no takers of innovative enterprises was also brought to the fore time and again.
• There is no market for composite because its main demand is not in the cities but in the villages.
• Nothing much can be done about the mounting landfills and black spots in the city as they are all under the mafia. The government has failed to take any action against them.
• A collaboration of people, technology and data can be a potential solution. Examples including The Ugly Indian Model, IChangeMyCity.com, Data Drive movement in Ranchi, See Click Fix, Fix My Street and Ushahindi were presented to support the notion.
• There are no dump yards for segregated waste.
• Our bureaucracy is not rated on its real outcomes which is responsible for the nonchalant attitude of the system. There are flaws in the tenders and contracts. Citizens need to start self reporting and demand activism. Government needs to take its role as an enabler seriously.
• People need to realize the importance of social audits and work towards prevention of corruption before it is done.
• Another hot topic of discussion during the workshop was that involving a heads-up between innovation driven enterprises and the policy makers. Why should we bother the system and not work on it on our own? Advocates of innovation opined that we have come a long way in terms of technology and that it is high time we use it, plus it is quite economical too. Other set of group said that the capital cost of set up for the innovation technology system was very high and that it is not an economically viable solution.
• It is time we take responsibility of our waste and not depend on policy makers and government that come and go.
• Data that is available around ecology of waste in the city is nothing but garbage. It cannot be used or used by any and everyone.

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