German-Indian ideas competition

"From Waste to Resource – Turning Garbage into Gold"

Cityscape view of Bucaramanga, Colombia

Whether it´s Mumbai, New Delhi or Bangalore: India’s cities are growing rapidly, and so are the mountains of waste. The piling heaps of refuse are further stressing the cities´ resources and infrastructures, harming people´s health, the environment and the climate. Beyond that, the trash still contains valuable recyclables that the cities can´t afford to lose.

Smart ideas to break the cycle in Indian cities and turn garbage into gold were invited by a German-Indian ideas competition, run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the initiative "Germany - Land of Ideas". The ideas competition marked the start of Germany´s international campaign "City of Tomorrow" dedicated to innovative urban development and smart city solutions.

Poonam Bir Kasturi convinces jury

Daily Dump

Out of 83 ideas for sustainable waste disposal in Indian cities competing on the open innovation platform, Poonam Bir Kasturi won over the top class jury with her convincing idea of a “Community Composter”.

The Indian designer and entrepreneur´s composter converts organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer in Indian residential units. Its appealing design is both aesthetic and ergonomic, thereby promoting its acceptance by Indian citizens as a practical solution for disposing of and recycling organic waste. Until now, garbage in India has suffered from a bad image, hindering a break-through in communal waste recycling. It is hoped that innovative ideas like Poonam´s Community Composter will bring about a change in awareness. The jury was impressed not only by Poonam´s innovative approach, but also by her plans to widen the scope of her project by supplying the compost to organic farmers in India.

Prize ceremony in New Delhi


Poonam Bir Kasturi received her award on September 29, 2016 during a prize ceremony held at the CityScapes conference of the German House for Research and Innovation in New Delhi. The prize includes a trip to visit research institutions in Germany.