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Rethinking
Disposability:
Compound 13
Lab
Compound13 Lab: waste, work and survival in a
global South megacity
Prof Graham Jeffery (University of the West
of Scotland)
Dr Ben Parry (Bath Spa University)
Dr Vidya Sagar Pancholi (C13 Lab/UWS)
Laxmi Kamble (Acorn Foundation/Compound
13 Lab)
Prutha Jain (Compound 13 Lab)
13 Compounds:
key recycling
zone: one of 15
such centres in
Greater
Mumbai region
Ben Parry (2013)
Map of Mumbai, red
indicates Dharavi;
yellow, 13th
Compound; blue,
pipeline clearance
zone. Image: Google
Earth.
Spread over almost 13 acres of land
Estimated number of waste recycling
units – between 300-500
Estimated number of workers in
recycling – 4000-6,000
Quantity of waste dealt –500-800
tonnes/day
Source: Key informant interviews
DHARAVI
13th COMPOUND
Spread across almost 2.1 sq.
kms of area
Inhabit more than 1 million
people
Home to thousands of small
and micro enterprises
Mumbai
About 18-20 million people live in
Mumbai as of 2022
6900 MT per day (in 2019) of solid
waste handled by the civic body
2 functioning waste processing
and disposal sites (deonar, Kanjur)
46 dry waste collection centres
handling 188 tonnes/day of waste
Source: MCGM MSW report, 2019
5
redevelopment plan
• 'infrastructural
collisions – between
the formal, planned
urban spatial
interventions
and the ‘human
infrastructure’ (Amin,
2017) of the self-
organised economy
Infrastructural
collision (2)
• 'hotspot’ for global urban research – complex
knowledge politics and highly contested space
• nexus of formal/informal relations – survival,
speculation, accumulation – multilayered site
Key characteristics of IWR (1)
• vast majority of people engaged in subsistence activity – waste pickers, itinerant
buyer, workers in recycling workshops (c. 200,000 people across greater
Mumbai)
• waste recycling activities geographically concentrated in the form of clusters
• scarce capital and a strict upper bound on the final price of the recycled
commodities = very tight margins (typically 3 – 10 INR per kg)
• large number of intermediaries (traders) at different scales
• characterised by the following risks
• mode of payment (predominantly forward or delayed, rather than spot)
• Absence of access to formal financial market
• Price fluctuations/ seasonal volume fluctuations
• Trust in receipt of payment from physically distant traders
• Negative policy decisions (such as media hype around DRP)
• Fire / health / safety/ toxicity
11
Key characteristics of IWR (2)
• Profit margins depend upon:
• Trade contacts
• Tacit recycling knowledge
• High quality, plentiful supply
• Economies of scale
• vernacular language of valuation – linked to broader commodity market
movements
• value derived by keeping plastic moving through the value chain – little value in
storage unless in very large quantities
• permeated by social difference and highly unequal terms of trade between the
biggest and the most marginalised - internal hierarchy
• high degree of self-organisation (dispute resolution mechanisms , eg. business
associations)
• pan-Indian networks of trust: materials are mostly traded between trusted
partners
12
Acorn Foundation
“
“REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE RESPECT”
‘everything that the big city has thrown away, everything
it has lost, scorned, everything it has crushed underfoot he
catalogues and collects. He collates the annals of
intemperance, the capharnaum of waste’ (Walter
Benjamin, selected writings: 1938-40)
city as classroom
using digital and recent technologies – working with the materials
and resources of the neighbourhood
3D printing and
introducing new
technologies and
their implications
participatory
documentary
filmmaking with
community journalist
Amol Lalzare
these processes feed into fieldwork and data
collection, drawing on the expertise, knowledge
and experiences of local residents
discussion, conversation, questions
– lots of ‘hanging out’
Learning to make new things
using materials and processes
linked to repair and recycling
industry
Creative learning - imagining
and inventing alternative futures
Compound 13
Lab
• an alternative design and development lab.
• Inspired by the makerspace movement, the project
utilises materials and resources of the recycling industry
as the starting point for learning experiments involving
ecological design and living solutions.
• Also a site for co-produced research and investigation
of the ‘smart city from below’ within Dharavi’s waste
management industry – key to this is very long term
engagement
Artist residency programme
C13 Lab: Activities
’SMART CITIES’ NEED
‘SMART CITIZENS’
ACCESS TO
RESOURCES/IDEAS/TOOLS
FOR CITIZENS WHO WOULD
NOT USUALLY HAVE
ACCESS TO THEM
SERIES OF
RESIDENCIES/WORKSHOPS
WITH
ARTISTS/DESIGNERS/ENGIN
EERS
DEVELOPING A DESIGN
CURRICULUM FOR THE LAB
INCUBATING PRACTICAL
IDEAS TO IMPROVE
PROCESSES AND IMAGINE
FUTURES DIFFERENTLY
SHARED ENQUIRY – A BASE
FROM WHICH TO FIND
THINGS OUT AND
COLLABORATE WITH
COMMUNITY MEMBERS
INFRASTRUCTURAL
COLLISIONS – TOP
DOWN/BOTTOM UP
ART AND DESIGN BASED
METHODS ALONGSIDE
MORE FAMILIAR MODES OF
ENQUIRY
Plastic waste recycling: an overview
Use
Plastic
waste
collection
Sorting/
dismantling
Further
Sorting (L1,
L2, L3)
Shredding
and
cleaning
Compoundi
ng
Extrusion
Manufactu
ring of new
products
Wholesalers
Recycling
factories
Market Market
Dealers
Itinerant
waste
buyers
Recyclables: Plastic, paper, glass, metal
Waste
pickers
Institutions Industries Households
Uncollected
waste
Subsidised market
Recycling
factories
Disposal sites
Transfer station
Collection
points Compost
sites
Informal system
(4.4 million tonnes of plastic)
Formal system (0.2
million tonnes of plastic)
recyclables
Source: Adapted from Gill (2019, p. 456);
tonnage numbers from WBCSD (2016)
Source: Authors’ observations
Dry waste
sorting centres
W to E
plants
dealing/trading/brokerage
separation/sorting
– different grades
of material –
depends on
availability of space
dis-assembly/sorting line
tools for sorting
Massive variety of material inputs – requires
intensive ‘citizen science’ knowledge of polymer
characteristics
• Washing/separation by density
drying
Separating value from waste of waste
waste of the waste (also recovered)
Waste of the
waste of the
waste: sold for
incineration (2
INR/kg)
crushing/grinding
Extruding (Vasai / Nala Sopara)
Extruding (Nylon process)
Trading; dealing ;
wholesale markets
for recycled pellets
Pellet producers/ plastic manufacturers
Wholesale scrap dealers (homogeneous waste)
Quality segregators (cleaning, Shredding,
washing)
Scrap dealers
Small godown owners (mainly
sorting and segregating)
Waste pickers;
mobile hawkers;
waste workers
The hierarchy of margins and
added value in IWR
Data issues
• Waste work is largely invisibilised
• Approx 180 metric tonnes of plastic per day processed through Dharavi
• Per week: 800 - 1200; per year: 52,800 m3 (1100 x 48 weeks)
• 14 other major centres beyond Dharavi, have to be careful not to double count
• Speculatively, 80 m3 per day /centre = 423,360 m3 per year
• Possible volume of plastic waste being recycled in greater Mumbai region: 476,160 m3
per year
• Makes sense if Mumbai produces c.7000 tonnes of domestic waste per day
• Data needs refinement and accurate data is hard to come by
• The complexities of disassembly chains are not widely mapped/understood
• Need much more research to understand the full economic contribution of the industry
• Regional (and national/international) waste flows/markets largely unmapped
Household waste Road waste Company waste Industrial waste
Mobile hawkers/
cart pullers
Scrap dealers
The structural heuristics of plastic recycling networks
Agents
Big/wholesale Scrap dealers
Recyclers of all different types of plastics (such as PVC, PP…)
Pellet manufacturers
Industries using recycled plastic
Compounding, extrusion
Sorting, shredding &
cleaning, and further sorting
dismantling, compacting
Collection, sorting, storage
Rag pickers
Agents
Agents
Agents
From mid-20th century
From 2005 onwards
From the late 70s early 80s
Waste
recycling
clusters
in
and
around
Mumbai
A spreading out of waste work
from what used to be a
marginalised site to other
marginalised sites in the periphery
of Mumbai (which itself keeps
expanding)
Dharavi
Kurla
Sakinaka
Goregaon
Mulund Kalyan Shil-phata
Bhiwandi
Vasai-Virar
Nalla-Sopara
Palghar
Company and
Industrial waste
from within the
MMR
Industrial waste from
outside MMR
Mumbra
Cutting/ granule
Industrial waste from
Southern India
Bandra
Santacruz
Andheri
South Mumbai
70 to 90% of recycled waste
from C13 goes to places
such as Nalla Sopra,
Vasai/Virar
Rest goes to places such as
Bhandup (Industrial area),
Goregaon, Malad (parties
that deal with quality)
Prior to 2005, C13 used to
be hotspot of waste
recycling
Currently, Nalla-Sopra/
Vasai-Virar deal with 5-6
times of what used to be
dealt by C13.
A major proportion (80-85) of
Mumbai’s road waste and
household waste gets
recycled at the 13th
Compound, Dharavi
Policy environment:
generally hostile to the
informal sector
• Since 2000s, increasing emphasis on universal service provision
and privatisation of MSW sector (“world-class” city making)
• Misappropriation of key global standard terms: ‘recovery’ and
’recycling’ deliberately elided
• despite its significant contribution (out of total plastic waste in
India i.e. 7.5 million tonnes, around 60% is recycled primarily by
the informal sector) in recycling waste, the informal sector has
remained invisblised and reduced to waste pickers/ ‘parasites’
(Gill, 2010; 2019; WBSCB report, 2016)
• Environmental regulations/licensing arrangements applied in
haphazard ways – eg many premises GST registered/with power
supply/ambiguities in licensing processes
49
Visibility/invisibility – issues and
problems
• Waste workers in the crosshairs of new environmental regulation –
associated with disposability and marginality
• The sector’s significant contribution to carbon reduction and plastic waste
reduction is hugely underestimated
• Complex disassembly chains/sophistication of markets not recognised
(‘smart city from below’)
• No subsidies, no incentives, no carbon credits – much of this work is
criminalized and misunderstood – ‘scavengers’/ ‘parasites’ etc
• Taboo of waste and cleanliness/complex politics of caste and class
• New paradigms of circular economy bring new opportunities and problems
• To function economically this work requires access to low cost land/space –
hence its association with marginal sites/urban peripheries
contacts
• www.compound13.org
• twitter.com/Compound13Lab
Graham.Jeffery@uws.ac.uk
pancholi.vidyasagar@yahoo.co.uk
prutha.compound13@gmail.com
b.parry@bathspa.ac.uk

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Dharavi-IIT.pdf

  • 2. Compound13 Lab: waste, work and survival in a global South megacity Prof Graham Jeffery (University of the West of Scotland) Dr Ben Parry (Bath Spa University) Dr Vidya Sagar Pancholi (C13 Lab/UWS) Laxmi Kamble (Acorn Foundation/Compound 13 Lab) Prutha Jain (Compound 13 Lab)
  • 3.
  • 4. 13 Compounds: key recycling zone: one of 15 such centres in Greater Mumbai region Ben Parry (2013) Map of Mumbai, red indicates Dharavi; yellow, 13th Compound; blue, pipeline clearance zone. Image: Google Earth.
  • 5. Spread over almost 13 acres of land Estimated number of waste recycling units – between 300-500 Estimated number of workers in recycling – 4000-6,000 Quantity of waste dealt –500-800 tonnes/day Source: Key informant interviews DHARAVI 13th COMPOUND Spread across almost 2.1 sq. kms of area Inhabit more than 1 million people Home to thousands of small and micro enterprises Mumbai About 18-20 million people live in Mumbai as of 2022 6900 MT per day (in 2019) of solid waste handled by the civic body 2 functioning waste processing and disposal sites (deonar, Kanjur) 46 dry waste collection centres handling 188 tonnes/day of waste Source: MCGM MSW report, 2019 5
  • 7. • 'infrastructural collisions – between the formal, planned urban spatial interventions and the ‘human infrastructure’ (Amin, 2017) of the self- organised economy
  • 9. • 'hotspot’ for global urban research – complex knowledge politics and highly contested space • nexus of formal/informal relations – survival, speculation, accumulation – multilayered site
  • 10.
  • 11. Key characteristics of IWR (1) • vast majority of people engaged in subsistence activity – waste pickers, itinerant buyer, workers in recycling workshops (c. 200,000 people across greater Mumbai) • waste recycling activities geographically concentrated in the form of clusters • scarce capital and a strict upper bound on the final price of the recycled commodities = very tight margins (typically 3 – 10 INR per kg) • large number of intermediaries (traders) at different scales • characterised by the following risks • mode of payment (predominantly forward or delayed, rather than spot) • Absence of access to formal financial market • Price fluctuations/ seasonal volume fluctuations • Trust in receipt of payment from physically distant traders • Negative policy decisions (such as media hype around DRP) • Fire / health / safety/ toxicity 11
  • 12. Key characteristics of IWR (2) • Profit margins depend upon: • Trade contacts • Tacit recycling knowledge • High quality, plentiful supply • Economies of scale • vernacular language of valuation – linked to broader commodity market movements • value derived by keeping plastic moving through the value chain – little value in storage unless in very large quantities • permeated by social difference and highly unequal terms of trade between the biggest and the most marginalised - internal hierarchy • high degree of self-organisation (dispute resolution mechanisms , eg. business associations) • pan-Indian networks of trust: materials are mostly traded between trusted partners 12
  • 13. Acorn Foundation “ “REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE RESPECT” ‘everything that the big city has thrown away, everything it has lost, scorned, everything it has crushed underfoot he catalogues and collects. He collates the annals of intemperance, the capharnaum of waste’ (Walter Benjamin, selected writings: 1938-40)
  • 15. using digital and recent technologies – working with the materials and resources of the neighbourhood
  • 16. 3D printing and introducing new technologies and their implications
  • 18. these processes feed into fieldwork and data collection, drawing on the expertise, knowledge and experiences of local residents
  • 19. discussion, conversation, questions – lots of ‘hanging out’
  • 20. Learning to make new things using materials and processes linked to repair and recycling industry Creative learning - imagining and inventing alternative futures
  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23.
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26. Compound 13 Lab • an alternative design and development lab. • Inspired by the makerspace movement, the project utilises materials and resources of the recycling industry as the starting point for learning experiments involving ecological design and living solutions. • Also a site for co-produced research and investigation of the ‘smart city from below’ within Dharavi’s waste management industry – key to this is very long term engagement
  • 28. C13 Lab: Activities ’SMART CITIES’ NEED ‘SMART CITIZENS’ ACCESS TO RESOURCES/IDEAS/TOOLS FOR CITIZENS WHO WOULD NOT USUALLY HAVE ACCESS TO THEM SERIES OF RESIDENCIES/WORKSHOPS WITH ARTISTS/DESIGNERS/ENGIN EERS DEVELOPING A DESIGN CURRICULUM FOR THE LAB INCUBATING PRACTICAL IDEAS TO IMPROVE PROCESSES AND IMAGINE FUTURES DIFFERENTLY SHARED ENQUIRY – A BASE FROM WHICH TO FIND THINGS OUT AND COLLABORATE WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS INFRASTRUCTURAL COLLISIONS – TOP DOWN/BOTTOM UP ART AND DESIGN BASED METHODS ALONGSIDE MORE FAMILIAR MODES OF ENQUIRY
  • 29. Plastic waste recycling: an overview Use Plastic waste collection Sorting/ dismantling Further Sorting (L1, L2, L3) Shredding and cleaning Compoundi ng Extrusion Manufactu ring of new products Wholesalers Recycling factories Market Market Dealers Itinerant waste buyers Recyclables: Plastic, paper, glass, metal Waste pickers Institutions Industries Households Uncollected waste Subsidised market Recycling factories Disposal sites Transfer station Collection points Compost sites Informal system (4.4 million tonnes of plastic) Formal system (0.2 million tonnes of plastic) recyclables Source: Adapted from Gill (2019, p. 456); tonnage numbers from WBCSD (2016) Source: Authors’ observations Dry waste sorting centres W to E plants
  • 31. separation/sorting – different grades of material – depends on availability of space
  • 34. Massive variety of material inputs – requires intensive ‘citizen science’ knowledge of polymer characteristics
  • 37. Separating value from waste of waste
  • 38. waste of the waste (also recovered)
  • 39. Waste of the waste of the waste: sold for incineration (2 INR/kg)
  • 41. Extruding (Vasai / Nala Sopara)
  • 43. Trading; dealing ; wholesale markets for recycled pellets
  • 44. Pellet producers/ plastic manufacturers Wholesale scrap dealers (homogeneous waste) Quality segregators (cleaning, Shredding, washing) Scrap dealers Small godown owners (mainly sorting and segregating) Waste pickers; mobile hawkers; waste workers The hierarchy of margins and added value in IWR
  • 45. Data issues • Waste work is largely invisibilised • Approx 180 metric tonnes of plastic per day processed through Dharavi • Per week: 800 - 1200; per year: 52,800 m3 (1100 x 48 weeks) • 14 other major centres beyond Dharavi, have to be careful not to double count • Speculatively, 80 m3 per day /centre = 423,360 m3 per year • Possible volume of plastic waste being recycled in greater Mumbai region: 476,160 m3 per year • Makes sense if Mumbai produces c.7000 tonnes of domestic waste per day • Data needs refinement and accurate data is hard to come by • The complexities of disassembly chains are not widely mapped/understood • Need much more research to understand the full economic contribution of the industry • Regional (and national/international) waste flows/markets largely unmapped
  • 46. Household waste Road waste Company waste Industrial waste Mobile hawkers/ cart pullers Scrap dealers The structural heuristics of plastic recycling networks Agents Big/wholesale Scrap dealers Recyclers of all different types of plastics (such as PVC, PP…) Pellet manufacturers Industries using recycled plastic Compounding, extrusion Sorting, shredding & cleaning, and further sorting dismantling, compacting Collection, sorting, storage Rag pickers Agents Agents Agents
  • 47. From mid-20th century From 2005 onwards From the late 70s early 80s Waste recycling clusters in and around Mumbai A spreading out of waste work from what used to be a marginalised site to other marginalised sites in the periphery of Mumbai (which itself keeps expanding)
  • 48. Dharavi Kurla Sakinaka Goregaon Mulund Kalyan Shil-phata Bhiwandi Vasai-Virar Nalla-Sopara Palghar Company and Industrial waste from within the MMR Industrial waste from outside MMR Mumbra Cutting/ granule Industrial waste from Southern India Bandra Santacruz Andheri South Mumbai 70 to 90% of recycled waste from C13 goes to places such as Nalla Sopra, Vasai/Virar Rest goes to places such as Bhandup (Industrial area), Goregaon, Malad (parties that deal with quality) Prior to 2005, C13 used to be hotspot of waste recycling Currently, Nalla-Sopra/ Vasai-Virar deal with 5-6 times of what used to be dealt by C13. A major proportion (80-85) of Mumbai’s road waste and household waste gets recycled at the 13th Compound, Dharavi
  • 49. Policy environment: generally hostile to the informal sector • Since 2000s, increasing emphasis on universal service provision and privatisation of MSW sector (“world-class” city making) • Misappropriation of key global standard terms: ‘recovery’ and ’recycling’ deliberately elided • despite its significant contribution (out of total plastic waste in India i.e. 7.5 million tonnes, around 60% is recycled primarily by the informal sector) in recycling waste, the informal sector has remained invisblised and reduced to waste pickers/ ‘parasites’ (Gill, 2010; 2019; WBSCB report, 2016) • Environmental regulations/licensing arrangements applied in haphazard ways – eg many premises GST registered/with power supply/ambiguities in licensing processes 49
  • 50. Visibility/invisibility – issues and problems • Waste workers in the crosshairs of new environmental regulation – associated with disposability and marginality • The sector’s significant contribution to carbon reduction and plastic waste reduction is hugely underestimated • Complex disassembly chains/sophistication of markets not recognised (‘smart city from below’) • No subsidies, no incentives, no carbon credits – much of this work is criminalized and misunderstood – ‘scavengers’/ ‘parasites’ etc • Taboo of waste and cleanliness/complex politics of caste and class • New paradigms of circular economy bring new opportunities and problems • To function economically this work requires access to low cost land/space – hence its association with marginal sites/urban peripheries