Urban waste linked to urban poverty

Updated on May 07, 2004 04:24 PM IST

The issue of urban poverty is inextricably linked with waste. In India, over a million people find livelihood in the area of waste.

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PTI | BySanjay K Gupta

The issue of urban poverty is inextricably linked with waste.

In India alone, over a million people find livelihood opportunities in the area of waste, engaged in waste collection (popularly known as ragpickers) and recycling through well-organised systems and also a substantial population of urban poor in other developing countries earn their livelihood through waste. It is important to understand issues of waste in this context.

The informal sector dealing with waste is engaged in various types of work like waste picking, sorting, recycling and at the organised level, door-to-door collection, composting and recycling recovery. The municipalities in any of the developing countries do not do any recycling recovery on their own.

Recognising the role of the traditional and largely informal sector recycling of only some types of materials like plastics, paper and metals is not enough. A recycling research carried out by Srishti reveals that many types of new materials mainly used for packaging are not, or indeed cannot be, recycled in the low-end technology being employed. Besides, there are serious issues of poor occupational safety provisions of the waste pickers as well as workers.

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