Waste management is an area that is underdeveloped in many developing countries. Centralized, government run systems are often inadequate, and initiatives such as recycling usually do not have a formal system in place. Because of this fact, many informal trash and recycling cooperatives have organically formed, whose members seek to gain income from collecting recyclable materials in the city and selling it bulk to industry. However, there still lacks coordination and a sense of trust between the different stakeholders. Residents, businesses, and building managers believe these informal systems to be unreliable, which prevents it from being fully integrated into the waste management system of the city. Moreover, the lack of coordination between recycling cooperatives present issues such as congestion and miscommunication, which can result in wasted trips and missed opportunities.
The Forage Tracking project addresses this issue by creating an integrated, cloud-based communication and mapping platform for informal recyclers. A location-detecting system is used to analyze how the informal recyclers find and collect material – then the data is used to optimize routes and identify new partnerships and collaborations within the community.
The participatory platform helps to organize activities of the cooperatives, and connect them to the citizens or businesses that require their service. This system increases the transparency and understanding of the service that the informal recyclers may provide to the system, fostering trust between community members. Moreover, this platform helps to streamline documentation of the material flows to the local governments, which could be used for other applications, such as infrastructure planning.
- Informal waste and recycling cooperatives
- Invite more informal recycling cooperatives to use the technology – as the more participants there are contributing to the web-based platform, the more representative the dataset will be
- Educate and invite more residents, local businesses and building operators to use the system, to foster a greater demand for the service
- Government to use the material flow data for future waste infrastructure planning, and integrate the system with the centralized waste management system