Do you ever wonder what happens to the plastic waste you give to a recycler? WasteWOW is turning plastic waste collected from individuals into everyday products that you can use.
Plastic is everywhere. While we are producing a lot of it every day, we are not finding equally compelling solutions for the end of its life cycle. As a result, a lot of plastic remains in the environment and contributing to the big plastic waste problem. Fortunately, we came across an organisations that took upon this problem and find a solution.
WasteWOW: The beginnings
Dalip Kumar was struggling to find ways to manage his plastic waste. He started monitoring his plastic consumption and was successful in reducing it. Seeing how reducing your consumption made some difference, he started door to door campaigns to encourage others to do the same. But he realised while it is essential to reduce individual consumption, one also needs to look at the other side of the coin. Learning what happens to the plastic waste we discard is also necessary.
Working with waste pickers and municipalities, he was shocked to see how little plastic waste is segregated and recycled. Our waste management system was not processing the waste it receives and merely dumping them in landfills.
Dalip was already on a quest to find answers for reducing his plastic consumption, so he decided to add another dimension. Find ways to process plastic waste and learn how this waste can be utilised. That is how WasteWOW was born.
WasteWOW is an organisation that collects plastic waste from individual households and processes it to make lifestyle and accessory products. We got in touch with Dalip to know more about the brand and how individuals can contribute to the cause and benefit from it.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Q. How did the brand WasteWOW come into being? What was the inspiration?
The main aim for WasteWOW was to reduce the plastic waste that ends up in the landfill. We all know that plastic takes a lot of time to decompose. Recycling plastic is a good solution but not all plastic waste collected is recycled in India.
We initially tried to get in touch with waste pickers and authorities to collect plastic waste and process it to make products. But we faced some challenges on that front. We then decided to collect plastic waste right at the source and started our individual collection campaign.
Our process was designed keeping individuals in mind. We wanted to create a better system of plastic waste collection that does not discard it in landfills. We collect plastic waste from individual doorsteps located in the Delhi-NCR region. The collection is free of cost and people can schedule a pickup from our website.
Q. How does WasteWOW transform plastic waste into beautiful, usable objects and products?
Once we bring back the waste collected to our centre, we manually segregate the plastic waste into soft and hard plastic. This waste is then cleaned and made ready to be processed by machines.
The next step is to shred the plastic or cut it into thin strips. For fashion products like sling bags, t-shirt, plastic waste needs to be in thin strips to act as yarn style raw material. Lifestyle products like plant holders require shredded pieces of soft plastic. The hard plastic goes through the extrusion machine which is further processed in a mould and takes the shape of the mould.
Our product design choices aim to add value to the people. Hence, lifestyle products and accessories like plant pot hanger, chair, table are big hits. Plus these products are also cost effective- require comparatively less monetary investment from our end and are cheap to buy.
Q. Does all the plastic consumers send get used in making products? If not, what happens to the remaining?
Unfortunately, the plastic strips and turning it into a fashion accessory process often leaves some residue of plastic waste. Thus, we focus more on products made using the extrusion machine and moulding method.
However, any waste that we generate in our product making cycle either gets used up to create other products or gets send to the recycle centre for processing. Similarly if we get any aluminium or glass bottles, we send those items to the local kabadiwalla.
Q. What type of plastics doe WasteWOW accept?
- Soft plastics include plastic wrappers of all kinds, milk pouches and single-use plastic bags.
- Hard plastics like shampoo or soft drink bottles and bottle caps are also accepted by us.
- We collected plastic types number 1 & 2 which is basically PET, HDPE and some LDPE (number 4) type of plastic.
- We however don’t collect certain single-use plastic items like straws, cigarette butts or plastic cutlery items like spoons, forks or cups made from styorfoam.
Q. What are some things people should keep in mind when collecting plastic for recycling?
Yes, we always advise individuals to keep the following things in mind when collecting plastic waste to share with us:
- Segregate the plastic waste we accept from other waste items.
- Make sure you have washed and sun-dried the plastic wrapper or bottle so that there is no residue inside.
- There is no food waste or wet waste mixed with plastic waste. This hampers the recycling process.
Q. How do people send waste collected? Do you also have a society or corporate collection system?
We offer door to door collection system for individual households. Currently, we do not have any corporate tie-ups for waste collection. However, we are collecting plastic waste from a society in Sarita Vihar, Delhi and also an upcoming collaboration with a society in Noida.
Since the society segregates and sends us a lot of plastic waste, we do give them a few of our products in return.
Q. Where can we buy the products made by WasteWOW from plastic waste?
There are three ways you can buy our products:
- Consumers can directly purchase our products from our website’s shop section.
- Some of the products like our handbag, stool and plastic pot hanger are also available to shop on Amazon.
- Finally, you can contact us via our social media channels like Facebook or Instagram and place the order directly.
Any final thoughts?
Yes, I would like to encourage people to shop local. When people shop from sustainable small businesses, it encourages us brands and organisations to continue doing the work we do. Shopping local also reduces the carbon footprint and lets all of us lead a sustainable lifestyle.
You can head to WasteWOW website to learn more about them, schedule a pickup or shop their products.
Sanjoli is currently working as a Content Strategist and has a Master’s degree in Fashion Journalism. She has contributed to publications like MensXP, Mindless Mag and Sustain: The Mag in the past. Conscious Charcha is her way of learning more about sustainability and spreading the word about a sustainable lifestyle.