All of us recognise and talk about the disbalance in importance of waste-pickers in the Indian waste value chain & the overall condition of the waste-pickers. However, there has been little translation of word to action on ground. To remedy this, in liaison with the local Nagar Palika's and Gram Panchayat's, we have been conducting waste-picker seminars in a few cities and villages that lie in about 500 km radius of our facilities.
The latest round of seminars was conducted in North Gujarat which saw an attendence of about 40-50 waste-pickers per seminar. The waste-pickers that we spoke to were collecting waste from private waste bins or dumpsters, along streets, waterways, from dumps and landfills. Some rummaged in search of necessities; others collected and sold recyclables to middlemen or other businesses. Some worked in recycling warehouses or recycling plants owned by their cooperatives or associations.
We cover a gamut of topics such as: the importance of moving to digital transactions, how to increase their earning potential through the waste they pick, types of waste they didn’t think has value, but does, recycling & products that get made from the waste they pick, importance of maintaining good safety and hygiene, importance of sending their children to schools & how they can get assistance for the same, ergonomic hazards such as heavy lifting and repetitive motion, that may lead to them experiencing back and lower extremity pain & preventative steps that can be taken & problems faced by them at the ground level.
Every time we speak to waste-pickers of a particular community, we don’t just 'conduct a seminar’ and leave. We set up drop off points for their waste so that they have an opportunity to earn more for their waste by working directly with us. Both the jurisdictions we conducted these seminars in, we have also set up waste collection booths where waste-pickers & other citizens can come drop off thier plastic waste and earn money at a pre-displayed rate at each booth.