MIT Students Reach Out, Reduce Waste

August 24, 2012

Anna Gross, Kevin Kung, Dietmar Offenhuber and David Lee, four graduate students, have been working towards a similar goal in the past year. Each has been working on projects internationally to help deal with health and environmental problems caused by waste. Anna Gross of Urban Studies and Planning has been working with Stree Mukti Sanghatana, a women’s organization in Mumbai, to use anaerobic biodigestion to process urban waste. This decomposition in the absence of oxygen produces methane gas that can then be captured and used as fuel. Kevin Kung of Biological Engineering has been working in Kibera, outside of Nairobi, to engage local waste-management cooperatives to mobilize slums to turn in their waste. The organic waste can then be turned into coal, a valuable local fuel of great scarcity. Dietmar Offenhuber and David Lee of Urban Studies and Planning have been working alongside catadores, people who collect 90% of recoverable materials near São Paulo, Brazil, to develop a better recycling cooperative and develop recycling infrastructure. All of these students are bettering the strategies used to deal with waste in growing cities, transforming the way waste is handled by putting it to better use.

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