Unpaid and undervalued, how India’s waste pickers fight apathy to keep our cities clean. The News Minute, November 30, 2017.
There are an estimated 1.5 million to 4 million waste pickers in India, who pick up, clean, sort and segregate recyclable waste and sell it further up the value chain.
Shoba Bansode has been working as a waste picker in Pune for over 15 years. She started doing this for a living since nobody would give her work as a domestic worker.
“My son was also very small then, and citing that reason too, nobody would give me work in their households.
At that time, one of my friends taught me waste picking. Using this as my only source of livelihood, I was able to provide for my child and raise him,” she says.
Shoba’s case is not an exception. Waste picking (or rag picking as it is commonly called) is a job that many end up in due to lack of other options.
According to a study published in the International Research Journal of Environment Sciences, titled, Studies on the Solid Waste Collection by Rag Pickers at Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, India, 94% of the 150 waste pickers interviewed in the Jawahar Nagar landfill in Hyderabad, stated that they chose this job since there were no other alternatives available to them.
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