Graduation

Creating awareness for plastic recycling in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

For my graduation I combined an internship at Precious Plastic with joining DELTAP, a inter faculty research group of the TU Delft.
Summarizing, I designed water and hygiene related products which can be locally made and used in the Karail slum with the Precious Plastic machines.

The graduation was scheduled in three phases: analysis, field research and product development

ANALYSIS

The analysis phase consisted two different topics: (recycled) plastic and Bangladesh: waste, water and hygiene.
Out of the analysis phase the next assignment was formed:

Design one or more products from recycled plastic, for water and hygiene use in the Karail slum to create awareness and acceptance of recycled plastic.
The products should be easy to make to enable local DIY production, in this case with the Precious Plastic techniques.

 RESEARCH

For the research, I visited Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, for three weeks.
Together with EPRC, a local research center, different inhabitants of the Karail slum were invited to participate in different activities: semi-structured interviews, material experience sessions and focus group sessions.

The researches were focusing on understanding the daily live in Karail slum, perception on (recycled) plastic and water and hygiene related product directions.

Research results

Daily live
During the interviews and the focus group sessions it came clear that child’s future, family and community are important factors in life.

Perception on waste
It came clear that the slum dwellers do have a certain awareness about pollution of the environment. However, due to other difficulties in live in the slum, people do not bother about the environment because other problems are more important.

Water and hygiene related products
It came clear that different inhabitants have different ways of using and storing the water. Different interesting topics were:

  • Soap storing and usage
  • Latrine usage of kids
  • Water storage
  • Water filtering

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

After creating product ideas, two products were chosen. The other product ideas were less suitable for DELTAP but can still be used in other projects.

Lid for water pots
The slum inhabitants use aluminium water pots to store their water. The majority boils their water before drinking. Although they know that they need to store the boiled water hygienically, the water is stored in pots without proper coverage. The lack of proper coverage is taken as a product opportunity. The lid is created with one of the Precious Plastic machines and the mold production only requires widely available tools (welder and angle grinder).

Water filter
Although boiling kills the most hazardous contents, the water can still be full of dirt. Some of the slum inhabitants used sari cloth to filter but this process was most of the times a bit clumsy. For this reason a simple water filter was designed. This design used the sari cloth as filter. In research was found that sari is a perfect water filter and, due to the fine structure even able to filter cholera and other bacteria.

 

Validation

After quick prototyping, the products were validated by a student research group while they visited Bangladesh for their research.

The products were received positively and some insights on colour and shape preference was collected.

Product system

After the final design of the products, different product systems were created. These systems were based on different research findings. Since it is not sure if the implementation of the product system is going to happen, and also not clear who is ging the implement, there was not one system selected. Depending on the future project partner, the optimal product system can be different.