The Policy Times and Sampurn(e)arth jointly organized a webinar on“Unearthing Scope of Informal Workforce to Enhance Sustainable, Traceable Waste Management Mechanism’’ during 4.30 pm to 6 pm on Friday, November 12 to discuss the prominent role the informal waste workers play in keeping our environment clean and explore ways to develop more inclusive waste management system with these “invisible environmentalists”.
Video Link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSKrqWe6zM4
Mr. Debartha Banerjee, Co-Founder & Director Sampurn(e)arth Environment Solutions, “Volume of wastes has been increasing due to population growth, economic development, and changing lifestyles; subsequent comprehensive management mechanisms needed to handle the same has proven to be challenging in both urban and rural areas of the nation. The demand for storage, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste has created an urgent need for environmental regulations and standards to ensure public safety. Traceability in the mechanism is of crucial importance to ensure involvement, knowledge, and improvement for better results. Although, the traceable management system has been emphasized in our policies and regulations time and time again it is yet to be realized on the ground.
The nation needs to develop a technologically advanced environmental infrastructure to encourage the demonstration of resource-conscious practice and reflect traceability.
While discussing progressive waste management policies, we must also ensure that it gives due focus on the informal workforce rather than known as invisible environmentalists. Their importance has been widely recognized but a solid roadmap to formally integrate them is not in place. Formalization of the informal workforce can bring them under the umbrella of an organized industry and associated benefits including funds, rights, protection, scope to scale their business.
“Sampurn(e)arth Environment Solutions Pvt. Ltd have a multi-stakeholder approach for waste management. For recyclable fractions in our facilities, we have material recovery facilities set up in association with ULBs and decentralized pollution-certified profit-sharing recycling facilities with ground-level informal workers. A waste management system with a similar structure would benefit the informal workforce who could ultimately realize the vision of clean and green India ”
Smt. Saloni Goel, Climate Change Specialist at NITI Aayog, “Waste management system is based on three pillars- 1. Physical Infrastructure, 2. human infrastructure. 3. finance and governance. One of the most important pillars of the waste management system is strengthening the human infrastructure. Informal workers are also very important and perhaps the most valuable step for an effective solid waste management system as they strengthen the foundation of the system, However, they are marginalized, unempowered, living and working in close proximity with waste. Many times waste hotspots and surrounding living arrangements of informal workers overlap, creating associated risks. We need to urgently review the traditional concepts regarding working conditions and remuneration of waste workers, devise an action plan to institutionalize and empower them through regulations. Technological intervention for waste handling and transportation could lessen the risk to manual handling of hazardous elements thus avoiding physical harm. Furthermore, they would require training and regular information communication to sufficiently absorb better technologies and humanize their working condition bringing forth voluntary contribution for enhanced and resource-rich waste management chain”.
Ms. Nalini Shekar, Social Activist, Entrepreneur & Co-founder Hasiru Dala (Green Force, “ The human resource part of waste management system in the nation should be reformed with special focus on the ground level aggregators or informal workers as their contribution is undisputed truth to channelize waste to resource.‘Zero Waste’ concept is an initiative to regulate better waste management practices in the city. The best way to do this is to start segregating at the source and then stabilizing the collection and disposal. The informal worker remains imperative to wheel this massive amount of sorting, segregation, and cleaning that is needed. The idea is to process the organic waste, sort, grade the non-organic waste within the ward, and send only the rejected waste and inert to appropriate processing. This would ensure a reduction in the amount of waste that goes to landfills, promote the reduction of waste, reuse, and recycling. Sustainable waste management is crucial for sustainable life.”
Ms. Shefali Bakshi, Junior Associate & Technical Training Lead for Swachh Survekshan 2021 Quality Council of India(QCI), “ When we talk about waste management as a whole, the core foundation stone would be segregation of waste, and the section of people who are engaged in such a noble work often goes unrecognized. The Quality Council of India is conducting ‘Swachh Survekshan’ which is one of the biggest sanitation surveys. This survey shows the work done by informal waste collectors can benefit ULBs in making their progress towards waste management in their own towns and cities. By formalizing their work and making them a part of the system, providing them with training would make them feel recognized for their work. “
Mr. Akram Hoque, Founder-Editor, The policy Times,- “ As a developing nation India is a significant contributor to global growth with equal responsibility. Sustainable development will accelerate nation-building. Waste management and recycling are two very crucial links as these two facilitate material recovery, natural conservation while preventing plastic pollution. Informal workers are the key to providing strength to these pillars”