Out of India’s Trash Heaps, More Than a Shred of Dignity

Source: The New York Times

As with so many social changes, it began with organizing. In 1993, a collective called Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat(K.K.P.K.P.) was established in Pune, with an ambitious goal: to organize waste-pickers, one of the poorest and more marginalized segments of urban Indian society.  Waste-pickers are often uneducated, rural migrants who sift through trash heaps or landfills, looking for plastics and glass that they sell to middlemen by weight, who send them to be recycled.  This informal system results in recycling rates of almost 50 percent for plastics (as compared with 8.2 percent in the United States) — which is why activists call waste-pickers “invisible environmentalists.”

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