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Waste picking scheme aims to increase circularity and decrease inequality

In 2020, the H&M Foundation launched an USD 11 million initiative, to address the gaps in the system that keep Bengaluru waste pickers in poverty and exclusion.  × Untitled design - 1 According to the H&M foundation, plastic waste collected by informal waste pickers is becoming a valued resource in the fashion and textile industry. Buttons partly made from the plastic waste are being featured on garments sold worldwide. The foundation claims buttons are traceable down to the source of the waste along with names of the workers, social security, salaries and working conditions at the aggregation centre.

The H&M foundation says of the 62 million tonnes of waste generated annually in India, only 19% is treated and the rest ends up in landfills. The largest driving force behind recycling, are the roughly 1.5-4 million informal waste pickers, who are crucial to the waste management system and key players in the circular economy, yet live in poverty, suffer harassment, and have little linkage to social support services.

The Foundation claims the initiative unites ten local experts and NGOs across sectors in a holistic ecosystem in Bengaluru India, aiming to equip waste pickers to lift themselves out of poverty.  The foundation believes it is impacting 32,000 people in the community in various aspects like education, health and safety, while contributing to a circular economy.

Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead H&M Foundation said: "If we collaborate holistically towards inclusive circularity, we can catalyse solutions that allow both people and planet to thrive. By addressing challenges related to waste pickers' lives, they have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty as well as contribute to a global circular system."  

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Publication date: 08/02/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31