Have you always had ideas on how to revolutionise the way we work and live with plastics in a sustainable way?
Our IGCS-motan virtual workshop participants took this moto to our #SustainabilityChallenge: ‘Reduce | Re-Use | Recycle | Recover – Challenges and strategies in the handling of plastics’ in December of 2021. We heard many brilliant concepts, discussions and pitches that thrived to shape our common future with innovative and sustainable ideas. However, one group stood out the most and we asked them to summarize their winning ideas.
IGCS-motan Workshop’s working group no. 3 represented by Marwa Madarani (University of Stuttgart), Shakunthala Natarajan (IIT Madras), Rajkumar Sahoo (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Linus Uzoewulu (Kiel University) presented their idea titled ‘Alternatives to Single-use Plastics (SUP) – Using Plastics Properly.’ Here is an extract from their presentation:
Single use plastics (SUPs) are creating a menace to the environment. Among these, SUP bags are used to a large extent for a variety of day-to-day purposes. These bags eventually end up in the surrounding, clog waterways and lead to a large number of other environmental issues. Despite plastic bag bans, the use of SUP bags has not been curbed. India, and other countries like Lebanon, and Nigeria are still struggling from the spread of single-use plastic bags. Therefore to facilitate the mitigation of excessive consumption of plastic bags, the focus must be on creating awareness among humans about their responsibility to protect the environment. Banking upon the necessity to bring about this behavioural change in humans towards plastic use and disposal, we have come up with a solution, which will be detailed in the ensuing lines.
“Re-Plast” is an educational online game that aims to change the attitude of younger generations between 6-and 16 years old towered the single-use plastic bags through different missions with different levels. In each mission,” Re-Plast “focuses on spreading awareness step by step, starting from understanding the types of plastic bags; moving toward educating about reusing, reducing and recycling behaviours, and ending with replacing or encouraging single-use plastic bags alternatives. Further, the game will pop out, workshops and indirect questions to the children to assure the achievement of the mission’s goal and to collect data to understand adults’ behaviour toward plastic bags through the eyes of children respectively.
“Re-Plast” aims to swap two adjacent plastic bags “among several on each level board, as to make a row or column of at least 3 matching-plastic bags”. The game aims to earn coins within a certain number of plastic bags gathered to accomplish the missions.
‘Re-Plast’ game is just the first step of our solution. In our next step, we will develop the game to target different generations; in addition, we will conduct workshops at schools in collaboration with the eco-clubs there. After spreading awareness and knowledge about Sups, we will collaborate and share the collected data with the government to influence the governmental decisions concerning plastics. And to achieve our vision, which is moving toward Recycling, we will create an app called ”Circularis” Where Plastic consumers can register themselves in the app and notify us whenever they have got plastic wastes to dispose of. After the notification, our waste collectors will be dispatched to the consumer’s place to collect the plastic waste and monetarily incentivize the customer for the plastic waste deposited. Our waste collectors will transport the collected plastic wastes to recycling firms. Since we offset the transportation costs of recycling firms by bringing in our waste collectors, we could get the incentivization money from them in return for this favour. This along with the Re-Plast online game will create a better intervention for tackling the problem created by single-use plastics.
About IGCS-motan Partnership
The IGCS-motan collaborative efforts are dedicated to helping students from Indian and German academic institutions to develop and foster sustainable ideas. This workshop is a continuation of our joint vision: incorporate innovative and sustainable ideas generation in interdisciplinary research, teaching, training and exchange in the area of sustainable development. Together motan and IGCS would like to motivate and support students to conduct research in the area of plastics and the circular economy.
IGCS and motan are always looking for motivated students to carry out a research project or an industry internship supported. For more information about IGCS’ Grant opportunities click here. You can find more information on motan on their website here.
Graduate student Daniela and PhD student Katleen conducted research projects on the topic of waste management in India with support of IGCS. Of special interest were studies on the amount and composition of waste, as well as its recycling potential in Chennai and on Neil Island. Sadly, both of them had to end their exchange early due to the Corona virus. Nevertheless, they have achieved a lot during this time and let us take part in their journey, research interest and the implications the virus has on their projects!
Katleen, Berlin School of Economics and Law
Project: Baseline study on solid waste management generation and characterisation on Shaheed Dweep
At the IGCS Winter School in Chennai about Sustainable Waste Management in February 2019, I got inspired to continue research on waste issues as an IGCS research scholar. I was back at IIT Madras in October 2019 to start my research project under the guidance of Prof. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras. Two months later I started my field work on the Andaman islands.
Driving forces for my research were
acquiring knowledge on the amount of waste being produced by whom and what on the islands and
identifying recycling potential to lessen the burden of the waste’s impact on the islands.
Neil Island, now called Shaheed Dweep, in the South Andamans was research area. The island is dominated by the tourism industry now. The relation about waste generation from local vs. tourist activities is an important indicator about the impact of tourism on small islands.
I chose to conduct a baseline study on Shaheed Dweep for my research project. Realizing that there are no actual figures about waste generation on the island, data collection on the island’s waste generation and the characterization of waste became an important target of my research project. Streamlining the island’s waste becomes a necessity in order to identify recyclable materials which can be transported out of the island. A resource recovery process could take place in Port Blair or on mainland India. The big advantage would be to reducing the burden on the open dumping yard on the Shaheed Dweep, which is currently the prevailing method of waste disposal.
Having said this, the restrictions following the COVID-19 crisis hit me during my second sampling week in March which I conducted with many volunteers to measure and sort the waste from the local market. Tourists were restrained from traveling to the Andamans, water sport activities like diving had to stop and suddenly the petrol station closed overnight. The waste collector changed their collection plans or even stopped collecting. End of story: I was escorted from the Andamans on the following Monday and my second sampling week unfinished. I was leaving the islands in confusion and a state of shock.
What happened next? I stayed in Chennai to continue analyzing my data. My sampling of household data was completed successfully. The waste rate per capita per day has been calculated for the sampling group of merely 0,18 kg/per person/day. Now extrapolating it to the total island inhabitants counting 3.040 people (Gram Panchayat Shaheed Dweep, 2019), the daily waste generation of all registered islanders would be at approximately 550 kg/day. This is a very small share (29%), given the estimation of about 1,9 metric tons per day of mixed waste by the Andaman Public Work Department in 2015. When looking at the composition of waste it reflects the Indian high standard of wet waste or compostable share (65%), while the remaining waste is coming as plastics (11,2%), glass (6,8%), paper (6,6,%), textiles (5,2%), metal (2,1%), hazardous waste (1,7%), other/rubber (1%) and e-waste (0,3%). My goal is now to close the data gap and get the respective figures for the market, the hotels and beach areas, which are the remaining major sources of waste streams on Shaheed Dweep.
Besides that, I enjoyed my time on the island with a diverse range of activities related to a sustainable waste management approach and data collection. Together with local and visiting volunteers, we removed 3,8 tons of waste from the beaches and one private property within three months. Out of this, 36% could be sent to Port Blair to recycle glass and plastic bottles. Furthermore, I conducted a workshops with school children about waste categorization, a waste management stall for the local island festival, a waste mural piece from plastic caps and many beach clean ups.
Heading off to the Andamans with the ferry was not only a dream come true but also an adventure in itself. I wish to return later this year to continue what I had to leave suddenly overnight on Shaheed Dweep.
Source: Katleen Schneider
Daniela Strittmatter, University of Stuttgart
Research Project: Plastic waste management in coastal areas
Plastic is known as a material with a huge range of applications in nowadays life. Our economy wouldn’t be the same without this reliable and cheap material. But what happens with the increasing amount of plastic material after its life spam…?
That was the question that came to my mind many times within the last years and during my master studies. So I decided to deal with this fascinating topic in my master’s thesis. The main aim of my thesis was to examine, how to improve the plastic waste management system in beach areas of Chennai. I conducted my research together with Professor Dr. Ligy Philip from the Civil Engineering Department at IIT Madras in Chennai and Professor Dr. Martin Kranert from the University of Stuttgart.
The research area of my research project is Chennai, a city with around 8,7 million inhabitants in India’s southeast. Similar to many other cities, Chennai is facing increasing amounts of waste, generated by society and companies. Due to an insufficient waste management infrastructure and lacking numbers of waste treatment plants, around 94% of the waste mixture is either deposited on open dumpsites without proper treatment or thrown away illegally. Uncollected waste that reaches coastal areas is likely to enter the sea, leading to negative long-term effects on a sensitive ecosystem. This is especially of increasing concern as the amount of plastic debris in underwater environments continues to accumulate with expected long-term effects on animal and human well-being.
As there is a lack of literature about the current waste composition at beaches in Chennai, I started my research with a status-quo waste analysis at different beach areas. This was an important step in order to gain a first impression. The waste analysis included both the amount and composition of waste, with a focus on plastic. Especially the questions “What is the amount of plastic waste that can be recycled?” and “Which areas are prone for plastic accumulation and why?” were of high interest for me. Luckily, many helpful hands at IIT Madras helped me with my sampling collection as I found many kilograms of waste per sampling site.
One main challenge was the hot and humid weather in Chennai, especially during noon at the sampling sites. With the sun burning down on my helpers and me, it was often quite exhausting to collect and transport the samples at the beach for hours. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being outside and was proud seeing the clean beach areas in the evening. Unfortunately and with a heavy heart, I flew back to Germany with a heavy heart due to the unpredictable Corona-crisis. I wasn’t able to collect further samples anymore due to the lock-down in whole of India. Nevertheless, I am glad to have finished my basis data which I’ll continue to use in an adopted way for my project now that I am back in Germany.
Besides writing my master’s thesis one exciting experience was my participation at the Winter School about “Sustainability in the Peri-scene” at IIT Madras in February 2020, organized by IGCS. The main content of the Winter School was to give the participates a well-rounded understanding of the peri-urban development in Chennai by having lectures, panel discussions, exercises and project work. Apart from the gained content knowledge the Winter School gave great opportunities to build a network with people of the same interest background and I am happy to still be in contact with many of them. Another highlight of my stay was during a beach clean-up I did on my own. Suddenly, a local person appeared, showed interest in my project work and offered to help me without any requirements. It was great to see that people are aware of the waste problem and the negative environmental effects and are willing to do something against it if they get the chance.
All in all I really enjoyed my stay in India. It’s a diverse, colourful and lively country and there are many things to discover. During my travels I enjoyed beautiful landscapes with rice paddies, white sand beaches and tea plantations. I fell in love with the tasty exotic fruits and delicious spicy dishes. Luckily friends taught me how to prepare Indian food. Especially the friendliness and curiosity of Indians made it very easy to get integrated into the Indian way of living and to feel home in Chennai soon. In order to get an impression of all facets of India, it is important to be open-minded and be ready for new experiences because India is also a country of contrasts. In some areas the effects of poverty and luxury can be seen next to each other and this can be challenging to cope with sometimes. Although it is visible that there is effort to improve the waste management situation in the cities, there is still a long way to go and solutions to be found. In order to enhance sustainable systems and thinking, international cooperation bonds like IGCS are a great way to exchange relevant knowledge and experiences between India and Germany and to bring research further for both sides.
Hence, I am very thankful for the experiences I made during my 3,5 months stay in Chennai and would highly recommend the exchange program to interested students. I will definitely come back to visit my friends and to discover the beautiful western and northern parts of India.
Update August 2020: given the current safety precautions and travel restrictions due to the Corona virus SARS-CoV-2, we strongly recommend selected fellows / interested applicants from the 2020 batch to postpone / plan the exchange not before 2021.
IGCS is proud to announce the scholarship program for 2020. We are
inviting excellent researchers (Master and PhD students, Postdocs and
from German universities research institutions who plan to visit IGCS at IIT Madras in 2020. Update: Please note that IIT Madras has closed the campus for international students until the end of 2020 and will reopen in January 2021 at the earliest.
from Indian universities (IIT Madras, IIT Tirupati, IIT Palakkad, IIT Manid) who plan a research visit to a German university or research institution in 2020.
to apply for an IGCS scholarship. We collect applications until February 29 (winter call) and June 30 2020 (summer call). Spread the word!
Prospective deadlines for 2021 scholarships will be February 28 (winter call) and June 30 (summer call) 2021!
Please find all details in regard to funding, process and eligibility on our page “Grants”.
Exchange semester in India: Prepatory workshop for DAAD fellows
Cologne, June 28-30 2019, organized by DAAD IndiAlumni e.V.
The alumni association IndiAlumni e.V. invites DAAD fellows from Germany who plan an exchange to India to participate in the prepatory workshop. Interested candidates contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reveive more information.
Please find below their invitation (German only):
Liebe Stipendiatinnen und Stipendiaten,
herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Eurem bevorstehenden Indienaufenthalt!
Hiermit möchten wir Euch auf unseren DAAD IndiAlumni Netzwerk e.V. und insbesondere auch auf das für Euch konzipierte Vorbereitungsseminar aufmerksam machen.
Das Alumni- Netzwerk wurde am 12.04.2014 von ehemaligen Stipendiaten, mit dem Ziel den interkulturellen Austausch zwischen Indien und Deutschland zu fördern, gegründet.
Heute engagieren sich über 115 Vereinsmitglieder in unterschiedlichen Aktivitäten, wie z.B. das Jahrestreffen, Workshops zu wechselnden Themen, Stammtischen in einigen Großstädten und kulturelle Veranstaltungen.
Unsere Mitglieder kommen aus diversen Fachrichtungen, Regionen und sind durch unser Interesse an Indien vereint. Wir schätzen und leben Interdisziplinarität. Unser Verein bietet somit Raum für fächerübergreifenden Erfahrungsaustausch und gegenseitiges Lernen –- und das auch in Bezug auf: Was mache ich mit all meinen Indienerfahrungen zurück in Deutschland? Wie kann ich diese gekonnt für meinen akademischen oder beruflichen Weg nutzen?
Für uns ist Indien ein faszinierendes Land, insbesondere aufgrund der vielen Unterschiede und Gegensätze. Aber gerade diese Unterschiede und Gegensätze machen das Land für den einen oder anderen zu einer Herausforderung. Um Euch gut auf Euren Indienaufenthalt vorzubereiten, möchten wir Euch die Möglichkeit bieten, Euch mit ehemaligen DAAD Stipendiaten auszutauschen –- kurzum –- wir bieten ein Speeddating an. Das Vorbereitungsseminar findet vom 28.06.2019 – 30.06.2019 in Köln statt.
Bei Interesse meldet euch gerne unter email@example.com, wir melden uns dann bei Euch mit weiteren Informationen.
Achtung: Die Teilnehmerzahl ist limitiert, schnell sein lohnt sich!
Weitere Informationen zu uns IndiAlumnis findet ihr auf