Rubbish!

Bangalore is facing a changing environment for the disposal of waste. Waste can no longer be transported to Mandur, as this landfill has been recently closed on court orders. A new, decentralized plan for managing waste is being implemented by the municipal bodies of Bangalore. ₹ubbish! makes the players experience Bangalore’s waste crisis first hand, by dropping them in the middle of this situation. How will the players collectively tackle Bangalore’s waste crisis? And how will the players balance between economic and environmental constraints?

 

₹ubbish! challenges players to tackle the waste crisis in Bangalore, by playing the role of John, a DWCC manager. The players’ responsibilities include collection and disposal of dry waste and they need to ensure a clean city. Each player runs his own DWCCs, starting with one DWCC in one ward. Every round, waste is generated in all wards, however, the players can only collect the waste that is generated in the wards that have a DWCC. The remaining waste will be dumped in the landfill. Having a certain capacity, when this landfill overflows, all players lose. If the players manage to create a DWCC in every ward, they all win the game.

 Game phases

Every round is consists of four phases. In the first phase, players can choose to invest in buying a new DWCC. This will allow them to collect the waste generated in this ward (and consequently, keep it from being dumped in the landfill) and also provides them with more storage space to store their collected waste. Additionally, the player has the opportunity to work with a waste expert. These waste experts  have in-depth knowledge about waste segregation and allow the player therefore to segregate dry waste in order for them to add value to their waste. After having made these decisions, the players will collect the generated garbage in the ward they have a DWCC present.

 

Three types of garbage are generated every round. Mixed waste consists of dry waste mixed with wet waste, unfortunately this waste can not be recycled and therefore has to be sent to the landfill. Dry waste solely consists of dry waste and can be recycled, but has to be segregated (with the help of the  waste expert) before selling to recycling industries. Last, but not least, there is segregated waste. This is waste that is already segregated in different types of waste, for example PET bottles, carton boxes, milk covers etc. This waste does not require any segregation and can be sold immediately. The waste that is not collected at the end of this phase, is dumped in the landfill.

 

After collecting and segregating the waste, players can sell their waste to recycling industries. To complete one full round, each player takes a chance card. These cards depict an event that mirrors reality in a way that can either affect the individual player, or all players collectively in either a good way, or a bad way. For example:

 

Truck strike: Truck drivers are on strike because they didn’t receive their salaries from the contractors for the past 4 months. DWCCs don’t receive waste next round. Keep this card over the board until next Chance Phase”.

 

A more detailed introduction to the game can be found in the presentation below.

 

Next Bangalore

 

Playtests

We are in the process of user testing our third prototype of the game. Playing in the game with various experts of different backgrounds, resulted in some very unexpected and interesting observations. Until now, we have had three external game sessions. One with Lukas Schaefer, an urban environmental manager, one with Cisco and the MediaLab Amsterdam and one with visitors of Next Bangalore.

 

 

Given that we have had multiple playtests, we can now move away from testing the game mechanics and slowly move towards a focus on gameplay, used strategies and player interactions. Most players experienced during playing, that actually creating a DWCC in every ward, while keeping the landfill from overflowing, was very hard to do. Economic constraints have to be balanced with environmental constraint.

Interestingly, in the Cisco and MediaLab session, Gijs Gootjes (project manager MediaLab) commented on the other players when they kept money, instead of spending it to keep the landfill clean. Encouraging each other to buy more waste, even if this meant economic loss. Other players, did not really seem to mind the landfill,  and were less drawn to cooperation with waste expert. They only bought the already segregated waste, and dumped the rest in the landfill. Some other interesting quotes: “Can I make the landfill bigger?”; “We can’t afford to be nice”; “Can I upgrade my DWCC to deal with wet waste?”; “Can I suggest you maybe purchase a DWCC?”. We noticed that having a discussion about the waste management crisis after playing the game becomes an easy transition, as the game provides the players with insights that mirror reality.

 

 

 


The last step in our project now, will consist of playtesting a few more times, including one playtest with Hasirudala. Also, we will move away from the paper prototype and build the final prototype with a little more volume to it.

 


 

How we designed waste profiles in ₹ubbish!

In ₹ubbish! each ward in Bangalore has a specific waste profile, which means that each ward generates a different amount of waste every round. What also differs from ward to ward is the amount of waste that actually reaches the DWCC. This is a reality in the city of Bangalore, some wards have a higher population, therefore they generate more waste.

After searching for some data we got our hands on detailed information about the amount of waste a group of DWCCs receives daily. This data was given to us by Hasirudala, and it was extremely helpful since now it was possible to make assumptions that were faithful to reality. Hasirudala manages 33 DWCCs in Bangalore, and they maintain information about the incoming and outgoing of waste daily.

From this data, we noticed that just a few wards actually received high amounts of waste daily. From 33 DWCCs, only 2 receive an average higher than 500 kg/day. And more than 50% receive less the 250 kg/day. The rest stays between 250 kg/day and 500 kg/day.

We used this information to create a simplified version of Bangalore. From 198 wards in the city we narrowed down to 18. Since the goal of the game is to build a DWCC in every ward, if the game had 198 wards each session would last a lifetime. Below you can see the current map of the game.

Rubbish! MapRubbish! Simplified map of Bangalore

This table shows our model of the wards in Bangalore and how much waste each of them generates every round. We also added how much that would cost to the player each round. The proportion between mixed, dry and segregated waste is something we had to speculate, since none of the DWCC we contacted could provide us with such detailed information.

Needless to say, this was a design decision we took to model this extremely complex context. Everything we designed is based in reality, not an exact representation of it.

Below are some of the cards we made to represent the storage in a DWCC, their waste profile and how much it costs per round.

DWCC Storage Cards

DWCC storage cards

Concepting: Games!

This week we finally start a new phase in our project: concepting! After more than two months of doing extensive research we’re confident to create ideas for our final prototype. Like we said in earlier blogposts, our focus now is on Dry Waste Collection Centers (DWCCs) and their waste management processes.

Our project kicked off with thoughts of how to use open data in order to promote sustainable citizen engagement to improve the city of Bangalore. This commitment could be changing the city physically, like The Ugly Indian initiative, or by influencing planning and public policy.

We already gathered some bits and pieces of open data regarding DWCCs and Bangalore (the more the better! If you want to contribute in anyway, don’t hesitate in sharing with us ;). Now we’re aiming to generate some information and knowledge with this data. The question that remains is: how to promote some deep kind of engagement about such a complex topic?

Our final decision is this: we’re going to create a serious game about it! Yey! This is basically a game that doesn’t have just entertainment purposes but also can aid in learning and education, participatory planning and decision-making.

We conceived the city, together with the waste management situation, as a complex entity. A serious game is perfect for modeling its current obscure garbage condition, simultaneously providing an immersive way of engaging citizens.

So, we played some games ourselves to get some inspiration. We started with Settlers of Catan, an unusual type of board game, since the board can change in every game session. The main objective of the game is to manage different resources, like brick, wool, ore, grain and lumber, in order to build new roads, settlements and cities. This will lead the players to accumulate victory points, and the one who gets to 10 victory points first, wins.
Settlers of Catan!

Playing Settlers of Catan. Photo credits: Tanmayee Narendra

 

Another game we played is called Power Grid. The setup of this game is different from Settlers of Catan since the board has a fixed format. You role play a company that owns different kind of power plants, from coal to wind generated energy. Your goal is to own and power several cities across the country. In the board you see the country you play in (Germany), a market for the price of raw materials and how many cities each player owns.
Power Grid!

Power Grid! Photo credits: Tanmayee Narendra

 

I loved to play both games, it’s interesting how resource management happens on each of them and makes me think of possibilities for a “waste management” game.

After playing the games we created a preliminary system dynamics model about the DWCC. How the municipality, waste producers/collectors and recycling industries relate to each other and if they have positive or negative connections. This is an interactive process also, since we’re going to select the select a specific portion of this model to actually build a game around it.
SystemDynamicsV2

Preliminary System Dynamics Model of the DWCCs in Bangalore

 

We started with some brainstorming sessions about possible audiences for the game and the main objective of the game. Audience can be DWCC managers or children in school, and objective can be something like: experience the consequences of lack of segregation or create awareness about waste responsibility. Like I said, we just started brainstorming, so hopefully next week we’ll have some concrete concepts to share here (:

A Beautiful Encounter

Reading about phenomena often proves to be something fundamentally different than actually seeing something with your own eyes. Therefore, we decided that it was time for some field trips to experience how the new infrastructure provided by this new waste disposal law works in reality. We started at a place where garbage is generated: Madivala Market. Madivala is a traditional market where mostly fruit and vegetables are sold. Garbage is collected by two different trucks; one truck for wet waste, which is transported to the Karnataka Composting Development Corporation(or KCDC) and one for dry waste, which is suppose to be transported to Dry Waste Collection Centers (or DWCCs). We visited both the KCDC and a DWCC and made a short video about our field research, which can be found below.

Waste Wanderers from Fields of View on Vimeo.

The garbage generated in Madivala Market led us to some amazing people. One of the people we met in the DWCC in the Jayanagar Division, was John. John has been dealing with garbage his whole life. John’s father was a informal waste picker and worked for very low wages by doing heavy work in unhealthy environments.  John was most likely to end up working under the same bare circumstances as his dad. However, since the implementation of the new law in 2012, John was able to join a NGO which helps informal workers to formalize. Here, John was educated in recycling techniques as well as in management skills. At the end of the training, he received a certificate and identity card that establishes him as a formal scrap dealer. John now runs a DWCC in the Jayanagar Division in Bangalore, receiving between 400 to 500 kg of garbage a day. John weighs the garbage that comes in, documents it, pays the waste pickers and truck drivers, oversees the segregation of waste and sells the segregated waste to either wholesalers or recycling industries.

John manager of the DWCC in the jayanagar Division

John – manager DWCC Jayanagar Division

Even though John is very happy about his newly gained status and his now healthy working environment, he also pointed out a few problem concerning these DWWCs. First of all, he explained that Bangalore consists of 198 wards and ideally, there should be one DWCC for every ward. Although the BBMP has 204 DWCCs planned, only 147 are constructed and only 70 of these are functional. As a result, John’s DWCC has to cater to 3 wards instead of the proposed one. Although we speak about quantitative numbers here, we should note that these are highly estimated numbers, as there is a big lack of data about DWCCs in Bangalore. For instance, it is very difficult to find out their locations, the number of people working there, the amount of waste that it can process, the price offeredfor waste, where segregated waste is being sold to, etc.

 

A second problem John pointed out to us is the fact that the garbage that comes in to the DWCCs is often not segregated. Although the law now clearly states that every garbage generator has to segregate at source, for some reason this is still not happening. As they receive large quantities of waste, it is difficult for the workers at the DWCC to segregate it themselves. Although there are laws to penalize these bulk waste generators, BBMP doesn’t enforce them as the infrastructure for disposal is not yet in place. So although our initial research showed us that the legal framework for waste disposal is now in place, the reality of the situation is the fact that these laws are not yet fully enforced in society.

 

After meeting John we realized that these DWCCs have the potential to create more formalized informal workers, and thus, more John’s. We sincerely believe that this approach to waste disposal creates new jobs, helps the informal sector and will be responsible for a sustainable waste management in the future. But before this beautiful dream can come true, a lot should happen. Therefore, we formulated a new research question, which is as follows:


How can we aid in strengthening the infrastructure of solid waste management, which deemed a priority of the High Court, by focussing on the DWCCs which embrace a bottom-up approach and see the informal sector as legitimate?

Dry Waste Collection Centers, CISCO and further research

For the past five weeks we did quite some research regarding waste management in Bangalore. Last week we talked about the enlightening encounter we had with John, manager of one of the many Dry Waste Collection Centers (DWCCs) in Bangalore. This meeting was a deciding moment for our research. We noticed that a DWCC represents exactly what we  proposed in our first problem statement: a bottom-up approach to waste management in the city and also strengthens the legitimacy of the informal sector.

This week we made more decisions and presented them to CISCO on our second meeting. Another great encounter with them, we got interesting feedback and some tips of how to proceed with our research.

 

Dry Waste Collection Centers

 

 

Our next step is to get deeper in the DWCCs. After talking to representatives of Hasiru Dala, we found out that they give training for scrap dealers.  The curriculum involves financial aspects of running a scrap business, account maintenance, customer service among other important management skills. As a result, the trainee can become a service provider or even a micro-entrepreneur of waste management. After concluding the training they receive an official certificate and an ID card issued by the BBMP itself.

 

We’re also interested in the processes of DWCCs. Waste collection, waste segregation and waste disposal. How do they deal with waste that is not segregated? Does every DWCC also segregate or they just receive segregated waste? What happens with the waste after it leaves the DWCC? Who buys it? How many people work in each DWCC? These are just a few of the questions we hope to get answered in the next weeks.

 

One of the most difficult things to get our hands on is data. And when I say data, I mean good, clean data. Not information in a PDF format or some pictures of tables. We’re interested in data like: where are these DWCCs? How much garbage does each of them handle per day/month? How much they pay for each kilo of different materials? Which DWCC receives the largest amount of segregated waste? And which receives the smallest and why? Who manages each DWCC? Who should I contact if I want more information about the DWCC in my ward?

 

Lots and lots and lots of questions. We hope that if we engage these three points (training, processes and data), we’ll have a better overview of the DWCCs in Bangalore and what’s their real impact when it comes to waste management in the city.