The State of Informal Waste Workers in India
Updated: Jun 10
Authored by: Shubhangi Priya, Sonam Gupta
There are approximately 4 million informal waste pickers in India today (Dandapani 2017). These workers engage in recycling activities that are crucial to the health of our ecosystem, as well as help in significantly reducing the waste collection costs for the government. However, they face multiple, overlapping shocks and stresses while trying to build a sustainable livelihood for themselves, which puts them in an extremely vulnerable position. The informal nature of their job, and the undue prejudice and stigma around it, pose distinct challenges related to recognition of their work, their acceptance in the society, as well as their legal and economic status. The paper attempts to propose systematic interventions to overcome these challenges and integrate informal waste workers in the formal solid waste management system of our country, to help them achieve sustainable livelihoods.
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