In the previous issue, we featured the “Waste-Free Community” Project, where everyone in the community, from residents, temples, schools, waste banks, and the municipal office, worked together to sort waste at source. For this issue, we are featuring KoomKah, a mobile application that helps waste banks systematically and conveniently organize their data and makes waste management easier for both buyers and sellers.
Chalermpol Hoonpongsimanont, Circular Economy Business Director of Chemicals Business, SCG, said that KoomKah was invented out of SCG’s determination to leverage its expertise on innovation and digital technology to enhance waste management in Thailand and meet the needs of those involved in the process.
“Waste management is the cornerstone of any efforts to realize a circular economy in Thailand because over 70% of the waste currently sent to landfills is recyclable. In a developed country, that number is below 20%. As a result, valuable resources become contaminated with organic waste and thus unrecyclable. If we can nip this in the bud by educating people about proper waste sorting, we will be able to recover various types of waste.”
When tasked with developing a tool that would promote better waste management, SCG’s team approached this task by going on site to study the actual waste buying process and talk to the buyers and sellers. During this process, the team found that they were still using paper records, which is not only more prone to errors but is also difficult in data retrieval. In addition, the team also inquired both the waste bank staff and members about their needs, information which was later used to develop the features on the application. The end product was KoomKah, a user-friendly mobile application with five key functions for waste banks:
- Buy: Record the amount of waste purchased and calculate the amount of payment
- Membership Management: Store member information and record the number of points stored and redeemed
- Sell: Record the amount of waste sold and calculate income and profits
- Inventory Management: Sort data on different waste types, capitals, and points earned from purchases, which can enhance the planning of buying-selling strategies
- Report: Produce reports of any specific period as a downloadable Excel file.
The complete array of key functions not only help streamline the waste buying process and makes it faster and more convenient but also allows users to obtain real-time data that is accurate and traceable from both the buyer and vendor sides.
Phatchet Vittayanulak, Digital Analyst on the KoomKah team, said that the feedback has been positive, with users saying that the application is easy to use and enables them to conveniently view their payment and points on their phones, eliminating the need for them to call or travel to the waste bank and then wait while their data is being processed – a common issue faced by waste banks with a massive amount of data and documents.
“The technology has also made waste sorting more appealing to Gen Y and younger generations and enabled us to expand our user base. In addition, because older people often ask their children for assistance with the application, KoomKah has helped enhance bonds in families and engage everyone in environmental conservation.”
Chemicals Business, SCG has developed KoomKah in collaboration with various waste banks and piloted it in different organizations. Among these is Bang Bua Thong Subdistrict Administration Organization, helmed by Dr. Vichien Charoennonthasit, President, who stresses the importance of waste sorting in communities and has made efforts to promote the practice and make local residents see its value.
“Bang Bua Thong is a large semi-urban community. Today, we collect about 50 tons of garbage per day. It is one of our major problems, we have implemented a waste reduction policy since 2014, in which we promote waste sorting and educate our community about different waste types and how to make liquid organic fertilizers. However, because our community is semi-urban, it is challenging to convince office workers to adopt the practice in their home and see the same successful results as in many other communities in other provinces.”
To address these challenges and create a strong community where its members can generate income and improve standard of living, the Waste Sorting for Life Insurance Program was initiated. Enabled by KoomKah, the program seeks to extract value from waste and enhance the quality of life in the community.
“What will help waste banks grow is transparency. The waste bank of Bang Bua Thong Subdistrict Administration Organization now has over 5,000 members. KoomKah has really helped save time and reduce calculation errors. Buyers and sellers can now check their data on their devices instead of having to travel to the waste bank. The application has also reduced repetitive tasks and paper records. Thanks to greater transparency, the operation is more efficient and effective, making it easier for waste banks to acquire more waste sellers.”
The success of the household waste sorting initiative has also led to a campaign to foster eco-consciousness in students through waste separation banks in schools. “Today, we are pushing forward a campaign on quality of life and the environment because the future of our children is in our hands. We have to start with ourselves and then work towards strengthening the community. We appreciate SCG for their environmental commitment, and we will continue to collaborate with every sector to advance this initiative.”
With enabling technologies, we can all sort household waste, and in the process, make the recovering of useful resources from waste more efficient, and ultimately contribute to making a circular economy a reality.
Waste banks that are interested in using KoomKah can request more information via LINE @koomKah or firstname.lastname@example.org