Our mission

Samudra is an international organisation dedicated to improving waste management systems globally. Our goals are to reduce climate impact and environmental pollution associated with waste, and to minimise the impact of waste on human and ecosystem health. The long-term aim for Samudra is to become an IGO that will act as a global orchestrator aligning efforts of major stakeholders in the waste management sector, and to have sufficient capacity to facilitate decision making on a global level.

How we will get there

The three pillars of our growth are:

  • Developing and implementing a global waste management strategy that will amplify the positive impact of all stakeholders in the waste management sector (national and local governments, companies big and small, funders, IGOs, NGOs, universities, etc.) and prevent different efforts from cancelling each other out.
  • Creating a virtual centre of technical expertise in waste management systems and infrastructure that will allow us to put important conversations (about technologies, infrastructure, financing mechanisms, governance and structural change) on the agenda of high level meetings that all too often focus on bold commitments lacking an actionable plan to achieve them.
  • Growing a global network of stakeholders in the waste management sector that will allow us to facilitate fruitful connections across different geographical regions and between stakeholders that usually don’t interact, or whose interaction is typically one-sided.

Our core values

1. No blame culture. Concerns about waste management challenges often result in blaming companies, consumers or governments. This leads to a counterproductive divide between “us” and “them”. Nobody wants to live surrounded by waste. Everyone enjoys breathtaking views of nature and beautiful marine creatures. We are all “us”; there are no “them”. That is why at Samudra we work towards collaborative solutions that allow everyone to contribute towards a better outcome for us all. We believe that more can be achieved in a no blame culture where everyone’s contribution is truly appreciated, not merely expected.

2. Evidence weighs more than beliefs. Our aim is to make the world a better place, and the research we do provides stepping stones along the way. Unlike other organisations with similar goals, we keep an open mind. For example, we don’t believe that recycling is always the best solution, that the less plastic we use the better, or that incinerators are more polluting than landfills. One reason is that very different things often end up under the same blanket term. Widely recyclable plastic packaging that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and medical devices that save lives are very different from plastic confetti dispersed directly into the environment. A well-managed landfill with methane capture in a dry climate is not the same as a landfill created by clearing rainforest. Another thing to consider is that everything has a cost. These costs can be very different depending on the type of waste and where it is produced. Recycling something in one part of the world can produce more emissions and environmental pollution than incinerating it at a waste-to-energy facility in another part of the world. Thermal decomposition of plastic waste can produce fuel that is less polluting than what is currently used in the region. That is why we don’t advocate for landfilling, incineration or recycling. We advocate for taking the time to estimate the costs of different solutions (in terms of impact on the environment, climate, human and ecosystem health), to assess their financial feasibility and to compare the opportunity costs. In-depth research guides everything we do. We invite you to explore what we’ve learnt so far. If you spot any mistakes, please do get in touch; it will be much appreciated.

3. Being creative when developing business models. Think of a successful company that sells a great product. How did they achieve that? They most likely started with identifying a market niche and learning about the target market segment. They designed a product and identified suppliers that can reliably provide sufficient amounts of the materials required for production. They invested in appropriate infrastructure. If you’ve ever started a company, you know that none of these steps are easy. Now imagine how hard it is to build a successful company if you must follow these steps in reverse order! In waste management you don’t choose the composition or the amount of generated waste; everything produced in your collection area has to be processed. You then need to find a market for recyclable materials, or products you can make with them, but you cannot guarantee your customers that you will be able to supply these continuously. Often the waste composition changes faster than the infrastructure investment pays off. As a result, waste management that doesn’t harm the environment or human health is often not profitable. That is why at Samudra we are dedicated to developing new business models that imaginatively blend different types of funding and leverage partnerships.

4. Best is the enemy of better. Efforts aimed at improving waste management in the long run, for example developing new materials or redesigning the global economy, are incredibly valuable. We believe that in parallel to these efforts urgent action is required to minimise the amount of irreversible damage (environmental pollution, climate impact and detrimental effects on human and ecosystem health) that is done today. For each waste management challenge we tackle, we try to come up with as many ideas as possible about how it could be addressed. We evaluate each of these ideas based on the impact they will have on the environment, climate, human and ecosystem health, if implemented. Some of the solutions we implement are far from perfect when examined in isolation; their merit only becomes apparent when they are examined in the real world context.

5. Contributing to as many SDGs as possible (15 out of 17, to be precise)

Plastic pollution has a detrimental effect on tourism, fishing and shipping industries. Reducing the amount of pollution entering our oceans will provide direct economic benefits for local communities that depend on these industries.

Marine plastic pollution puts rich nutrition sources (fish, seafood and algae) at risk, and leads to food chain contamination. Reducing the amount of pollution entering our oceans will secure safe nutrition sources for the future.

Uncollected waste is either openly burnt (leading to adverse effects on air quality) or dumped (facilitating the spread of disease vectors and contagious diseases). Improving the coverage of waste collection services will lead to better physical and mental health, and reduce the prevalence of contagious diseases.


Women are responsible for waste management in most households and are hence more exposed to the harmful substances released during open burning of waste. Due to the higher proportion of body fat compared to men they are also more likely to accumulate these harmful substances in larger quantities. Improving the coverage of waste collection services will reduce this inequality.

Leachate from uncollected waste and toxic emissions created during open burning of waste pollute sources of drinking water (both water-bodies and ground waters). Improving the coverage of waste collection services will ensure that more people have access to safe drinking water and that agricultural produce is not contaminated through water.

Even waste that is neither recyclable nor compostable has calorific value; it can be converted into energy. Using waste as an energy resource will facilitate the shift away from more polluting fuels and produce affordable energy while reducing the environmental pollution at the same time.


Millions of people make a living by participating in the informal waste management sector. Most of them work without protective equipment, have no access to healthcare, and occasionally face hunger due to irregular income. Our vision is to make the current waste pickers the last generation of waste pickers by creating opportunities for them and their children.

The supply of raw materials is finite. Capital investment in waste management infrastructure will increase the availability of raw (recycled) materials and affordable energy in the form of electricity and heat for local industries.

Income inequality is exacerbated by the availability of waste collection services. Low-income communities live in polluted environments and are exposed to toxic emissions released during open burning of waste. Improving the coverage of waste collection services will reduce this health inequality and facilitate the economic growth of low-income communities.


Uncollected waste results in air pollution from open burning of waste, the spread of infectious diseases and floods caused by clogged drainage systems. Improving the coverage of waste collection services will facilitate the sustainable development of urban and rural communities.

It is impossible to be a responsible producer or consumer if waste management services are not available. Capital investment in waste management infrastructure will facilitate the shift towards responsible product design and better waste management practices both in industry and in households.

Landfills and dumpsites without methane capture infrastructure and open burning of waste result in considerable climate impact. Capital investment in waste management infrastructure will reduce climate impact associated with waste. Combining energy recovery with carbon capture technology can result in carbon negative waste disposal methods.


Ocean pollution is detrimental to the health of marine ecosystems. It harms all marine species and all species that are part of the food chains they belong to. Reducing the amount of pollution entering our oceans will be an essential part of preventing marine ecosystem collapse.

Leachate from uncollected waste and toxic emissions created during open burning of waste pollute our land. The need for more and more landfills, given the rate at which they fill up, often results in deforestation. Capital investment in waste management infrastructure will reduce environmental contamination and the rate of deforestation, as well as protect biodiversity and fertility of our land.

Concerns about urgent waste management challenges often result in blaming companies, consumers or governments. This leads to a counterproductive divide between "us" and "them". Creating collaborative solutions will allow everyone to contribute towards a better outcome for us all. More can be achieved in a no blame culture in which everyone’s contribution is truly appreciated, not merely expected.