Ragpickers join India Inc value chain

Friday, June 29, 2007

It?s ragtime folks! India Inc. is poised to get ragpickers to strike fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Top companies like Tetra Pak, Dabur, Amul, Parle, Karnataka Dairy, among others, are wooing ragpickers to participate in their value chain. Though Tetra Pak is spearheading the movement of carton collection, companies are signing up thick and fast.

In the normal run, paper mills cough up $75-110 per tonne for used Tetra Pak cartons. That works out to precisely Rs 4 a kilo. India Inc. is encouraging ragpickers-in-uniform (company gloves, jackets, et al) to go from door-to-door , collect and separate dry waste from wet, and sell directly to the nearest paper mill through NGOs at remunerative rates ? all without that meddlesome middleman in the way.

For Tetra Pak, the future of packaging in India lies in value-based waste management systems. ?If the waste has a value, it?s part of the value chain,? maintains Amit Deep Singh, environment director, Cluster South and South-east Asia, Tetra Pak.

Driven by this philosophy, Tetra Pak approached NGOs like the Mumbai-based Stree Mukti Sanghatana, and thrashed out an arrangement for door-to-door collection of waste by ragpickers. ?Waste paper has good value, but cartons are yet to make an impact since people are not quite sure about the fibre content of cartons, which can be further recycled . We want to create awareness about the value of cartons among paper mills, so that highfibre paper can be extracted and recycled,? adds Singh.

The money actually lies in dry waste, and once dry waste is mixed with wet waste, the recycling ability just goes waste. Segregating garbage helps ragpickers fetch a better price from the mill.

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Source: The Economic Times (link opens in a new window)