By Neil Tangri and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Over the last 20 years, waste pickers— workers in the informal economy who recover recyclable materials from trash—in Pune, a city in the state of Maharashtra, India have transformed both their city’s municipal waste management system and their own lives. The waste pickers formed a union to protect their rights and bring dignity to their work. The union has been so successful that it has allowed the women and men to implement door-to-door collection of garbage segregated where it is created (e.g., home, business) and to separately treat organics. Moreover, waste pickers have been able to improve their livelihoods and working conditions.