OUR UTOPIA

We know we have a long way to go. But, based on everything we’ve researched, read and understood, we have a utopia we want to strive towards, fully aware that it will evolve as we learn more.

Our utopia would consist of decentralised “material cradles” or recycling centres at the sub-district level across India that upcycle all types of municipal solid waste, formalize and incorporate the informal sector, and are financially sustainable, mini-manufacturing units. These would be supported by centralised “research cradles” that would be research and development centres focused on increasing the value of waste.

We imagine that these material cradles:

  • Process all types of municipal solid waste and convert it into a high-margin resource including collection, segregation, processing and redistribution.

  • Align with the principles of Cradle to Cradle, which treats waste as nutrients for further use.

  • Are themselves regenerative and thriving physical structures.

  • Formalize and incorporate the informal sector, focused heavily on their overall well-being.

  • Adapt to local culture and local waste profiles, while ensuring that no waste goes to landfills.

  • Embody a vibrant and positive work environment where people from all castes, creeds and income levels work together.
  • Are mini-manufacturing units that 3D print or manufacture high-margin products made out of recycled plastics, metals and inert matter (sand).

  • Use margins from high-value waste to cross-subsidize the recycling and processing of low-value waste.

  • Have a dedicated monetization team that works on extracting as much economic margin from the Material Cradle as possible.

There is potential for synergies and emergence across cradles. And this utopia will evolve as we learn and grow.

Lastly, we obviously don’t think we can do this alone. We hope to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders across the waste landscape to try and come at least close to this utopia.

WHY WE LOVE 3D PRINTING

We believe that 3D printing gives us nimbleness. Besides many types of plastics, 3D printers today can also print various metals and types of sand / silica. This flexibility reduces dependency on traditional one-dimensional waste-to-value cycles.

Nonetheless, 3D printing is hard and slow. And printing with recycled material is that much harder because of impurities and moisture, which is less of an issue with virgin feedstock. So while 3D printing is exciting and the future, there is still a long way to go.

If you have any pointers, opinions or other ideas, don’t hesitate to email us. We especially love those who can lovingly find holes in our work that we haven’t already found.