12 super creative waste recycling ideas from across the world

Musical instruments out of landfill waste, soda bottle vertical gardens, recycled furniture and more fab waste recycling ideas – from Paraguay to Australia.

Urban India generates 188,500 tonnes of waste per day and 68 million tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste per year, which is a 50% increase in waste generation since 2001. At this rate, urban India will generate  160.5 million tonnes per year by 2041.

An Institute of Customer Experience report on “Sustainable Futures: A Waste Management Perspective – India released on July 22, is a detailed look at global and local trends, patterns and more on how much waste and what kind of waste we are creating in India.

Not surprisingly, metros are the biggest contributors to the waste generated, forming 37% of the total waste the country creates.  90% of the collected waste is dumped in the landfills and 10-20% of such waste in landfills is openly burnt. In one city like Mumbai, the open burning of waste releases 22,000 tonnes of pollutants every year.

The only way to reduce waste is to reuse or recycle it. Here are 12 incredible ways put down by the report to showcase how waste has been decreased by a huge quantum by reducing and recycling it.

Bottle Bank Arcade, Sweden

A machine was developed to gamify the activity of collection of waste bottles, so that people are just not rewarded with a good conscience but also get a smile in return.

Plastic Gold, Cameroon

Constance Gubong Tangu was tired of seeing plastic waste and she decided to make jewellery out of it. She and four friends started the New Era Foundation in 2010. The organization oversees several environmental projects in Bamenda and trains women to produce jewellery from recycled paper and plastic.

The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra, Paraguay

Music out of trash – the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra, Paraguay: Favio Chavez came up with a project to create musical instruments using waste as raw material. Large landfills provide the waste material to make those instruments.

Goonj: Sanitary pads out of cloth waste, India

Waste cloth as a resource, India: Goonj uses vast quantities of underutilized or waste cloth from urban homes as a resource to cater to the clothing and other basic needs of the rural and poor community.

Vertical Garden from Soda Bottles, Brazil

Rosenbaum’s vertical garden is made out of hundreds of recycled soda bottles. The bottles are suspended on the wall of a walkway outside the home and contain edible plants like lettuce and herbs so the family can grow their own organic vegetables.

Pic courtesy- Maria Rose

Landscaping with printer cartridges, Australia

An Australian company “Close the Loop” came up with eWood. It looks and can be worked as hardwood but it is actually made from leftover bits of plastic from printer cartridges that is melted down and extruded into bars.


Pulau Semakau: Biodiversity hotspot grows out of waste, Singapore

The government implemented a recycling program that took care of around 54 percent of waste, and an incineration program for most of the remaining waste. This resulted in ash as the leftover. Pulau Semakau, a new island is built with sealed cells filled with incinerated rubbish. A careful waste management program has made this island a bio-diversity hotspot home to flourishing mangroves, rich coral reefs and a wealth of bird and marine life.

pic courtesy: fotopedia.com

Redistribution of medicines, US

Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine (SIRUM) is a social enterprise started by Standford University students to decrease the amount of medicines and medical supplies that go waste by redistributing unused and non-expired drugs to free and low cost medical clinics.

SIRUM helps to supply unused medicines to various parts of the country

Imperfect fruit: Reverse Logistics of Food, USA

As per a survey by NRDC in USA, 30% of the fruit produce does not reach customers because it is “visually incorrect for large retail entities”. FoodStar teamed up with the California grocery chain Andronico’s- customers were able to buy these fruits at hugely discounted prices. Instead of becoming cattle feed or garbage these fruits actually reached people.

TWOvital: Art out of Waste, USA

Founded by photographer and sculptor  Dwayne Bass, TWOvital strives to create awareness of environmental issues and sustainability through its art.

pic courtesy: twovital.com

RUUBLOX: furniture from waste, US

RUBBLOX is a furniture line created by Dwayne Bass. It is manufactured from recycled rubber in Georgia. They take rubber which is no more usable and have all the fibres, steel, belts, and impurities removed in order to work with the finest and cleanest shredded rubber. The recycled rubber is dyed and reused to mould in different shapes  to meet all design needs.

Recreate: Upcycled settees from old suitcases, South Africa

Designer Katie Thompson uses old and discarded items to make innovative home decor items. One such item was a whimsical chairs and settees made out of vintage suitcases.

pic courtesy: hometolife.com

Institute of Customer Experience is a not for profit organization works in the field of user experience research and future studies. The team works in various domains that deal with human-technology interfaces and come out with frequent research reports on the future scenarios which are interesting and thought provoking.

Contact ice@humanfactors.com for any further queries and feedback.

All pics: Institute of Customer Experience

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The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more


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The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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