Saprofit was the graduation project at METU Industrial Design in 2014.. The project was guided by Designum & Recycling Workers' Association in Turkey.
The Saprofit is a recycling cart that solves physical and social problems faced by recycling workers in Turkey. This practical and feasible solution is based on user research and offers ergonomic, operational, and safety solutions, such as load limitation, waste categorization, bottle compression, and braking system.
Street Collectors
In Turkey, the collection of recyclable domestic waste is primarily performed by street collectors, also known as recycling workers. These individuals work under difficult conditions and are not officially registered. Street collectors gather and separate recyclable waste materials, which they then sell to make a living.
Carts Being Used Cause Danger
The carts used by street collectors are made in small workshops, typically by welding steel tubes. However, these carts present various issues, such as causing injuries and inconveniencing city traffic.
Street Collectors are Socially Excluded
During the user research phase, many street collectors in Turkey demonstrated a sense of insecurity and social exclusion due to the lack of legal recognition of their job, despite their crucial role in the recycling system. It was clear that these individuals face difficult conditions, and their struggles should be recognized and addressed.

A recycling worker in Turkey. Photo by Ali Saltan.

Over 300,000 street collectors in Turkey, who are not officially registered, collect 60% of the recycled waste, which amounts to 1.5 million tons annually. It has contributed 5 billion euros to the Turkish economy and is a crucial part of the recycling system in Turkey. To ensure their well-being, it is imperative to recognize the difficulties and challenges they face in their work. Providing a practical and feasible solution, such as the Saprofit cart, demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.
The Product and New System Design
As household waste separation is not common in Turkey, some municipalities have integrated street collectors into their systems. Saprofit is designed for this purpose, with new features to solve physical problems and improve its aesthetic appearance. This integration can improve the social and economic conditions of collectors and increase recycling rates in Turkey.
The Saprofit cart offers improved ergonomics compared to existing carts. It can be pushed on three wheels on smooth surfaces for efficiency and on two wheels on rough roads with ramps and holes.
For more detail about the design process and the use scenario, visit this link.