In this episode, Lakshmi Narayan will be joining us all the way from India to explore the social dimension generated within the waste collection practices conducted by waste pickers in Pune. The discussion will address, among others, different interpretations of social value, the work behind the waste pickers union, the challenges and opportunities of this informal sector and the way forward in formalising and recognising such co-operatives.
Lakshmi has been working with waste pickers in Pune since 1989. She is the co-founder of the trade union Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) and SWaCH. The KKPKP aims to establish and assert waste pickers’ contribution to the environment, their status as workers and their crucial role in the Solid Waste Management (SWM) of the city. Today, KKPKP has 9000 plus members, 80 per cent of whom are women from socially backward and marginalised castes.
SWaCH is a wholly-owned workers’ cooperative, as a Pro-poor Public Private Partnership, that undertakes waste management in Pune. The SWaCH door-to-door waste collection model is based on recovery of user fees from service users and provision of infrastructure and management support from the municipality also plays an enabling role.