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Garbage Recycling: a myth or hard reality?

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 Lot of garbage is recycled. That is the reality.

Today, I met Bhimraj 48, who looks approximately 48 with lot of lost teeth. Bhimraj is the son of Rajappa an ex BBMP employee. Rajappa passed away 2 years back. Bhimraj virtually left his Father’s place 40 years ago when he was 7 years of age and is a rag picker since then. He used to visit his parents once in a while when they used to feed him if they could. Rajappa had sired 12 children, out of which 8 are surviving till date, including Bhimraj, the rag picker. Bhimraj is a “Tigalru” community person. He is a foot path dweller making his lively hood by recycling “garbage”. He earns between Rs 150 to 200 a day.

The yesterday’s rag picker I met was not a foot path dweller but a person whose children are studying. Rag picking is his second income side job. There is competition for Bhimraj.

I have fixed up an appointment with Bhimraj for tomorrow to investigate the items of value in the garbage thrown by Bangalore citizens of Tippasandra and HAL III stage area.



Naveen's picture

Garbage Recycling - Case Study

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I am looking forward to your investigation.

I feel that in India, this process has already been going on for decades due to poverty & the chain is very well established. It benefits the poorer sections all along the chain. For eaxample, when I want to dispose something, be these empty bottles or old /torn clothes, my servant is always very eager to take it as she gets to sell them to recycling shops & get some small money.

Thus, recycling is of course necessary in a country like ours & assists many poor people. What appears to be a myth are the practices being followed by the west - are their efforts really saving the environment & reducing the alarming increase in consumption of scarce resources ?

Also, India should develop it's own standards for recycling of wastes, within the already existing, well-entrenched framework. Systems developed by the west clearly do not fit here.

rs's picture

Hi I believe that a lot of

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I believe that a lot of stuff gets recycled out of necessity but one could ease the lives of many people if the process was streamlined. People should not have to wade through muck to get the few items of value.  From a cursory look at the piles of garbage that one sees lying around I noticed a few things.

1. Most of it is biodegrable kitchen waste - but what makes it difficult to get rid off is that it is in a non-biodegradeable plastic bag. However, most of it perhaps can be composted either at home or at a common composting site in the neighborhood - not just an empty plot ;).

2. Occasionally there is some stuff in it which is recyclable but it is usually dirty because its in the middle of a pile of kitchen waste.

3. There is no straightforward way of recycling bottles/ metal stuff/ recyclable plastic etc. In fact, I am sort of at a loss as to what to do with a lot of junk in my house - defunct appliances etc. Not all of it has some exchange value etc.

4. There have been initiative or proposals - for example the Malleshwaram Swabhimana initiative which aimed to set up composting sites etc. But I'm not sure if they ever took off.

In any case the situation is pretty bad. Its strange - because there is a lot of value in garbage collection - in fact, in the New York it was a problem because the mafia got involved since it was such a lucrative business.

People believe it is the corporations job to collect the garbage using the city taxes that we pay - which it is - but I think a better system would be to collect a monthly fee for garbage collection as we do for water and electricity which would provide some direct accountability for the busness.




roshanrk's picture

There is a case for using

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There is a case for using these guys to keep bangalore cleaner. I saw one ragpicker going around and picking plastic bags that people has so callously thrown on the road.

The thought that struck me was how could we use them to benefit all of us. They need the plastics and other recyclable materials. If a neoghborhood could get them to come every day and collect them from each home, it would work wonders I guess, It'll mean people throwing less garbage out on the streets and these people have a steady source of recyclable materials. 
psaram42's picture

Rag Pickers association

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There are several auto rickshaw drivers associations. One such is controlled by Muthappa Rai. rs  and roshanrk  have mooted the idea of utilizing, stream lining these rag pickers. May be the rag pickers should have an association so that this sector could get organized and helped. It is a very good suggestion indeed. What say?

Bhimraj is not a voter where as the other Rag Picker does not miss voting. He in fact predicts a come back for Congress this Loksabha election!


psaram42's picture


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To day while going for my morning walk I met Chinnaswamy, a part time rag picker. May be one should not classify a part time rag picker as rag picker. Basically he is a free lance laborer, from Darmapuri, Tamil Nadu. He speaks fairly good Kannada. Nijavada are you listening? He is a bachelor staying at Kaveri School area, of Indiranagar, Bangalore (in the open?).

Chinnaswamy was eager and happy to talk to me in the beginning. Then an unhappy Corporation Road Sweeper lady seeing me with paper and pencil forcibly took away Chinnaswamy to collect her “hafta”. Chinnaswamy however stoutly denies any existence of hafta. I assured him that it does not make any difference to my system.

I gave him my address. He has promised to come to my place in the hope of earning Rs 80 which is his charge for washing my car. Now ball is in my court. It is a costly bait to catch Chinnaswamy.

It was at CMH road Indiranagar that I met Chinnaswamy, while he was picking up card board containers thrown by Arya Samaj people. He had a cycle parked on the road. The fairly clean pant and shirt which he was wearing were also recycled stuff. The Corporation lady was a Telugu speaking with no Kannada. She was happy to talk to me later once I had finished with Chinnaswamy.

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