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Non-biodegradable components segregated from garbage are converted into WoW boards, which are a direct replacement for plywood.

The rapid increase in urbanisation and per capita income in India has significantly led to an increase in municipal solid waste generation in the country. Urban Indians generate 68 million tonnes of garbage annually, it’s also predicted that the volume will increase to 165 million tonnes by 2030. A huge portion of the solid waste is untreated and unsegregated.

So even though the dry waste collection centre is supposed to manage only dry waste it has turned into a temporary dumping ground for mixed waste. It’s temporary because the mixed waste that is loaded onto the truck will be transported to a landfill about 10 miles away on the outskirts of towns or cities, causing groundwater contamination and air pollution. There is, thus, a growing need to detect blind spots in the collection, segregation and transportation of waste so that the operation can be made more efficient.

India is now overflowing with trash and pollution thanks to decades of improper waste management.Source

Many cities in India only segregate 40%  of mixed waste. Nivedha RM, a resident of Bengaluru identified this problem and decided to make a change in 2016 when she was just a third-year chemical engineering student. She started by making a small prototype that could process only 1kg of waste by detecting the moisture content. Nivedha R.M. and Saurabh Jain then went on to start a company, TrashCon that could commercially segregate trash on a larger scale. This led to the innovation of the TrashBot, the first of its kind semi-automatic machine that sorts all kinds of mixed waste into biodegradable and non-biodegradable components.

The waste segregator is currently available in four capacities—500 kg, two tonnes, five tonnes, ten tonnes and 200 tonnes. TrashCon, a pioneering zero waste solution, is driven by the aim of converting any trace of waste into monetizable value. TrashCon has addressed the entire waste cycle by developing technologies that facilitate efficient waste segregation.Waste is separated at 99% efficiency ensuring there is no waste remaining, thus establishing a self-nurturing circular economy.

The biodegradable components are used for generating biogas or producing manure or compost. When it came to the non-biodegradable waste recyclers asked for specific kinds of materials. Waste consisting of non-recyclable plastics and cardboard can be used to generate RDF, which can be used as fuel in cement kilns. However, Trashcon  wanted  to be true to its principle of sustainability and invented a proprietary process to convert the non-biodegradable waste into composite sheets.

While most authorities have been complacent to come up with solutions that tackle waste management, Nivedha’s initiative shows how every individual can make a difference. Source

WoW (wealth out of waste) boards are a result of the proprietary process that sterilises, recycle and compresses plastics, polymers, aluminium foil and other non-biodegradable components. The device used to make the sheets are zero-emission technology. There are no chemical binders in the making of the sheets, which means they can be recycled again.

The WoW boards will help bring dignified income to the waste pickers and will have applications particularly in replacing wood-based sheets in construction and design.  These boards have zero VOC emissions, are water-resistant and are 30% cheaper than green plywood. They come in shades of grey(uncoloured), red, blue , green and yellow as a standard. These colors can be customized and developed for a bulk order. The nature of these boards is organic depending on the waste going into them, making each sheet unique.

The uncoloured sheets are slightly undulated compared to the coloured ones which have a smooth finish. The material and the edges are more flexible as compared to plywood and would require extra support when being installed. These boards can be finished in the same way as plywood, with laminate, veneer etc. The sheets are manufactured in 2 sizes: 

  • Type 1: 4 feet X 2 feet, with a thickness of 5mm, 8mm, 12mm and 16mm.
  • Type 2: 4 feet X 8 feet, with a thickness of 8mm, 12mm and 16mm 

The price of the product ranges from Rs 50 – Rs 69 with 100% payable on placing the order. To make the transition from traditional materials to WoW boards, the carpenter does not require any additional skills when using the WoW Boards in place of wood. In case the Installation process requires an electric blade, a finer grade is needed for the longevity of the product. The carpenter may require some time to get oriented to new material and there may be initial resistance to new material. However, TrashCon is always available to assist with the installation process.

The unique design and texture of wow boards are a result of diverse waste found in our country.Source

These boards are currently being used as an alternative to aluminium shuttering in construction and to make products available on the TrashCon website that ranges from office furniture, home decor and even school infrastructure. In 2021 Mondelez India announced a grant to Hasiru Dala to recycle multi-layered plastic waste and create furniture boards using TrashCons technology.

This collaboration aims to convert 600 tonnes of MLP waste annually into boards that can be used for construction. The lockdown gave the company the perfect opportunity to collaborate with the Belakoo Trust. WoW boards were used to create micro libraries which were placed on the footpaths across Bengaluru. This initiative helped many children who lost access to books during the pandemic.

Some of the products made from the WoW boards include planters for home decor. Source

The below trust joined hands with TrashCon to build tiny storages that would act as microlibraries , across Bengaluru. Source

It’s always important to know as designers how we can sensitively design keeping our planet and country in mind. TrashCon has certainly come a long way and as designers the least we can do is support initiatives that help contribute to the environment.


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