The Invisible Life of Waste: Development of an Ethnography-based Solution for Waste Management in Households

applied project
Basic Info


The main goal of the project is to develop an innovative IT solution that will help detect and visualise the production of waste in households as well as promote waste reduction. The development of the solution is based on people-centred and ethnography-based approaches and will begin with an analysis of waste management practices in six cities: Ljubljana (Slovenia), Graz (Austria), Trieste (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia), Oslo (Norway), and Dubai (UAE). The study provides insights into the lifestyles of “invisible” actors, e.g. sanitation workers, labourers at landfills, and people working in recycling facilities, while also accounting for local attitudes to waste. In addition, the study investigates waste as a relevant actor in global networks of production and consumption.

Project steps

Phase 1: Preparation

m. 1–6: kick-off meeting; purchase of equipment; overview of existing studies; integration of methodology; project website

Phase 2: Research & Development

m. 7–12: research in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Trieste, Graz

m. 13–18: research in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Trieste, Graz (continued); recommendations for developers; development of the IT solution (smart trash can, smart waste containers)

m. 19–24: research in Oslo, Dubai; development and integration of the IT solution (smartphone app, online community)

Phase 3: Usability Testing

m. 25–30: testing and adaptation of user interface; additional research in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Trieste, Graz; functional prototype

Phase 4: Conclusion

m. 31–36: public presentation of the IT solution in Ljubljana; international conference; edited volume Invisible Life of Waste

human-technology interaction
people-centred development approach
socio-cultural factors
environmental awareness
waste management