Waste Management

At IGCS, the focus of sustainable Waste Management is on advancing the development of management strategies and technological processes, in the frame of transdisciplinary research that considers the circular economy, reuse approaches, recycling, energy recovery, socio-economic aspects, ecosystems / resource protection and climate change. Technologies on organic and inorganic waste are its focus, as both are of relevance in Indian cities and the global context. Research topics are the potential of organic wastes, waste separation, aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (biogas production) processes, thermochemical processes, and the valorization of products from these treatments. Research also includes assessing the impacts of plastic waste in coastal areas in urban regions, and management approaches to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic material. In addition to biochemical, microbiological and process-oriented questions, networking for integrated waste management with relevant stakeholders and IGCS areas on water, energy and land use plays an important role to design innovative solutions. Projects are implemented at various scales, from laboratory to technical scale, and to provide recommendations for decision-makers. Capacity building, exchanges, trainings and teaching at IIT Madras are dedicated to enhance human capital. An essential aspect is to deepen Indian-German scientific and academic cooperation and to intensify the link between theory and practice.

Current research projects

Current research include the evaluation of plastic waste in coastal areas in Chennai, India, and management approaches to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics in the context of a circular economy and environmental protection. Evaluations of plastic waste materials and their conversion into valuable resources using thermochemical technologies are be conducted with a variety of innovative analytical methods and pilot-scale reactors at the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Madras.

The Waste Management Area is collaborating in projects on Peri-urban areas and land management of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras, by providing knowledge and expertise on sustainable waste management to develop strategies at local level.

On the topic of Bioeconomy, preliminary evaluations are being conducted to promote cooperations between Germany and India, with a publication being in preparation. One challenge is the adaptation of solutions to the prevailing situation in India and the widely differing socio-economic structure between rural and urban areas. Building collaborations with other IGCS Areas for the introduction of these concepts is a relevant task for project development.

The focus of training and teaching activities is on integrated waste management in the context of the circular economy and climate change with the aim of supporting innovative thinking for research, project implementations and social transformation for a sustainable waste and resource management. Presentations, lectures, and knowledge exchanges in these fields have been held for various target groups in seminars, conferences and winter/summer schools.

Research activities on waste topics in coastal urban areas in Chennai are also being addressed in the frame of the DST project (Indian Department of Science and Technology) at IIT Madras Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Infrastructure and Adaptation Strategies.