Design for an Integral Waste System

As we live we generate products, our limited foresight can’t find any further use of most of them. These products have been christened as ‘Waste’ by our society.  These include worthwhile products which could otherwise be used for many purposes like fuel, luminaries, fillers, rugs, bags, decoration items, sculptures, manure etc. We are presently on the brim to reach a state of ‘resource-less-ness’; a state where we would be devoid of all the niceties we are enjoying and thereby wasting.

As said earlier, it’s the mindset of our society where waste is perceived as an unusable, unwanted, surplus material to be disposed of.  It is often seen as an eyesore ugly monstrosity all set to deteriorate our lives. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Waste’ as:

  • Verb – use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose
  • Noun – an act or instance of using or expending something carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose

Thus, carelessness and not uselessness is associated with waste. Anything connected with insensitivity and thoughtlessness derives toward waste. It was the continuous action of us humans where this led to the adjective form of waste, where it is meant as ‘eliminated or discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process.’  It’s this careless action and attitude of ours which has led waste to be really a waste. A great responsibility here is to be borne by the community of designers, architects and planners where they have completely missed out designing for better storage of unused surplus material which then owing to our unsympathetic actions becomes waste.

In a study of best of house design published in magazines and otherwise, there was no provision for dustbins and waste management system located. In fact, architects often miss locating ideal spots for the dustbins in their design, which is clearly reflected on the plan. Similarly, our layouts of schools, hotels, convention centres, mess, hostels, museums, public facilities and transportation hubs completely miss locating best spots for dustbins in designs. This leads to an unplanned distribution of so-called dustbins which are nothing but poorly looking containers generating a feeling of disgust and then untouchability. Thus, the material dumped in it will definitely be considered a waste.

Similarly, our Urban Designers and Town Planners don’t locate waste collection, segregation and management centres in their layouts. This is often an adjunct reaction which happens more as a necessary requirement. Thereby, these pockets in the cities our undesirable sickening places which people try to avoid. In fact, the present environmental approval structures also miss out waste management system where it is limited to the addition of STPs and coloured dustbins. There is a deafening cry of our mother earth which can no longer bear this weight of our careless disposal system and productsDustbin. We need to integrate the system of waste management into our planning and design and make it an intrinsic integral component of the same.

It is high time where we should start using leftover products as a resource and not let it become waste because of our careless action. At IIM Udaipur, we have started designing dustbins to collect leftovers and unworkable products where segregation could be done at the sIMG_20150115_125129ource level itself. These are a combined set where larger opening is for dry biodegradable stuff and a smaller opening proclaiming people to reduce the usage of non-biodegradables.

I am indebted to Neeraj sir, who guided, advised and mentored me for this post.


3 thoughts on “Design for an Integral Waste System

  1. Hi, Nice post. I am working on piloting a decentralized SLWM project in rural Odisha. We need to procure dustbins for distributing them to each household in the village. Yours seem promising. Can you please share cost and material used for the dustbins? you can mail me at


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