Meet the Recycle Gurus

The Kabadiwalas

They are experts on creating value from waste and navigating the recyclables market. They have years of experience working to keep our city clean.

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Service training

Our training covers legal, economic and social factors relating to waste management in India as well as business management and customer service training.

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Safe and efficient recycling

20 – 25% of municipal solid waste (i.e. trash) is collected by the informal sector and all of it is recycled and goes to creating raw material.

Most Kabadiwalas take only high value waste since they have small shops. This is one reason homes that want to recycle all waste get frustrated with not not being able to recycle more.

The Kabadiwalas are able to get waste from the informal sector: helpers on cycles, rag-pickers and the formal sector: sweepers, tipper auto drivers. Maids from homes also go to their shops to sell waste.

The immense knowledge pool that the informal sector possesses of materials and processes has not been acknowledged. They are seen as "labour" not "skilled labour" or "knowledge workers".

The kabadiwalas are migrants who have settled in a city and set up small businesses. They started off by doing the most menial and dirty jobs of this sector. They are under constant threat by the formal sector and the authorities.

Saving carbon emissions: The informal sector in Delhi alone reduces carbon emissions by the same amount as taking 175,000 cars from the road. This is roughly equivalent to providing electricity to 130,000 homes!

Appropriate solutions for each material

All waste is not the same. Each type of material has its own needs.

Toxic materials should not be handled by anyone who does not have the right tools to make them safe. Low value materials like thin plastic, leather, rubber becomes high value when volumes are large. In this case, it is not the waste, but the volume of waste that needs to be addressed. Clothes, appliances, furniture have the potential to be reused, refurbished etc. 

So our project is trying to focus on each kind of material and evolve creative and convenient ways of collection, delivery, stocking, that ensure cleaner cities. We try to also be mindful of not creating systems where the informal sector is threatened. 

The ideal state would be if all our materials went back to recycling and reuse.