The core focus of the Kashtakari Panchayat is the waste recycling sector. The informal waste recycling economy in India transects formal municipal service provisioning and entrepreneurial recycling. It is a veritable beehive of enterprise activities that incorporate own account or self employed workers as well as micro-small and medium enterprises that employ other workers. Waste pickers are the foot soldiers of this vast enterprise pyramid that collects, aggregates, trades and processes humongous quantities of unwanted materials discarded by consumers in growing economies. Some waste pickers are generic, retrieving paper, plastic, metal scrap, glass, bottles, corrugated board and tins. Others specialise in specific commodities. Itinerant waste buyers buy small quantities of materials. Materials that have use value are carefully segregated from those that would go back into the manufacturing process. While there are activities that are linked to the livelihoods of the waste pickers and the environment at large, a dedicated support is provided to waste pickers in supporting their access to various entitlements. The activities are captured below in a nutshell.
Developing and promoting zero waste models of waste collection and management is one of the core activities which has been taken forward in both urban and rural areas over the years. Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited’s (PSCDCL or “Smart City”) vision for the Zero Waste initiative is to minimise movement of solid waste generated in Aundh- Baner Ward to landfill site. The initiative aims to create a live-demonstration zero-waste model, which could be replicated across Pune City.
Spaces for waste pickers
This initiative looks at providing material recovery facilities for waste pickers so that they can sort their collection of recyclable materials in order to make them marketable. Storage and bulk sale reduce transport costs and increases their bargaining capacity with aggregators and results in livelihood enhancement for waste pickers.
Supporting co-operative scrap shops
Kashtakari Panchayat supports co-operative scrap stores run by waste pickers by taking up infrastructure projects that increase or upgrade the storage capacities. This directly leads to more waste pickers associating themselves with the shops by ensuring livelihood support. Innovations in technology like setting up plastic scrap grinder are undertaken as well.
Plastic Brand Audits
Brand audits of Pune’s plastic waste are conducted as part of an annual global initiative by Break Free From Plastic A brand audit of Pune’s plastic waste was conducted, as part of an annual global initiative by Break Free From Plastic to identify producers and hold them accountable for the plastic they introduce into our environment
Kashtakari Panchayat is committed to improving waste pickers’ and their children’s access to education over the past decade. KP believes that staying in school and acquiring secondary education and going on to do a degree presents waste pickers’ and their children with more and varied opportunities for exploring alternative livelihoods and/or improving waste management systems so as to better their and their peers’ working conditions. KP consistently strives towards this goal by reviewing and evolving newer approaches to ensure that waste pickers and their children have access to educational opportunities. Enrolment of children in different government schemes is a major focus of KP. These schemes are particularly aimed at enabling children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to access education by giving necessary inputs in the form of scholarships to children.
Engaging with Youths
Kashtakari Panchayat focuses on increasing participation and engagement of youth on different issues through capacity building measures so that they become enlightened and responsible citizens of the community, who give back to society. Various capacity building activities have been undertaken with youth with a view towards preparing them as leaders in their communities and take forward issues and mobilize other youth around these issues
Kashtakari Panchayat launched a pilot study in slum communities in the wards of Kothrud and Warje in Pune City. The study engaged waste pickers and introduced menstrual hygiene education and reusable cloth sanitary pads, which are considerably cheaper than disposable pads, do not require disposal, are environmentally friendly and offer a hygienic alternative. Trainings were conducted across the city and cloth pads were provided to waste pickers at a subsidised price.