The management of municipal waste (especially plastic) remains a major environmental and public health challenge in many developing countries — crippling the implementation of a circular economy.
Developing countries are the current dominant centres of production and the future centres of consumption in the global economy. However, respondents to a Chatham House
UNIDO survey (May 2019) indicate that the major expected challenges around implementing circular economy policies would be a lack of institutional capacity and access to finance. This is exacerbated by the fact that effective waste management, based on models implemented in cities in the developed world are expensive, with a World Bank study estimating that it can cost a municipality upto half its yearly budget. Integrating informal actors and their infrastructure into the formal waste management system offers an exciting opportunity for the developing world to manage their waste-streams much more inclusively and efficiently. Moreover, the decentralised nature of informal waste supply-chain offers a unique perspective into how the developing world can 'leapfrog' developed countries in circular economy innovation — to deliver the infrastructure and services needed to support their growing economies and populations.
Kabadiwalla Connect has piloted a novel decentralised waste collection solution in Chennai, India, that leverages existing informal waste infrastructure to deliver inclusive, and cost-efficient waste collection solutions for local residents in Mylapore.