Movie tickets, ATM receipts, parking tokens, small bills — these are used on an everyday basis and are important only for a moment or for a few hours.

However, these little slips of paper can make a difference when put together.

Speaking at The Hindu’s Clean Chennai @ Home workshop at Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram, Kilpauk, on Sunday, founder of Paperman, Mathew Jose, explained how to recycle paper and plastic with the help of the friendly neighbourhood kailaan kadai karan (raddiwallah/kabadi wallah) or ‘waste entrepreneurs’ as he prefers to call them.

“Speaking from the perspective of the people in this informal industry, they are ignored by the government and ostracised by people. They do a great service by reducing various types of pollution and taking away the things that would normally clutter up landfills,” said Mr. Jose. He remarked that over 14 million tons of waste produced across India is worth about Rs. 15 to 20 crores to this industry.

The idea behind a model like Paperman is to connect residents to the local scrap and waste paper dealer and provide them with a simple yet effective way of collecting the things they can sell. Mr. Jose said, “We provide a bag to organise and collect newspapers and magazines and other scraps of paper. When this is full, they can call the helpline and give their details. Within 48 hours, a person will take it away at the fairest price possible. This ensures convenience for the consumer and an assured haul for the dealer, so everyone is happy.”

Alternatively, the enterprise gives an opportunity to help the less fortunate by investing the waste in a social cause. Homes can choose the cause they wish to support and the more waste they collect, the more they contribute. Currently, Paperman works with 220 houses and three NGOs in the city. They support the education of several hundred students.

Mr. Jose says a household can easily recycle even without the help of an organisation like Paperman. “Each household should take the ownership of recycling the generated waste. If there is a waste paper dealer right next to your house, use his services,” Mr. Jose.

Navneeth Raghavan, environment and solid waste consultant, shared the best practices for composting, while Srinivas Krishnaswamy spoke about the menace of plastics and how to reduce their everyday usage.

More than 200 residents participated in the workshop and contributed to a lively interactive session.

Paperman hotline: 8015269831. Paperman website:

Pdfs of presentations made at Clean Chennai @ Home workshops in Adyar (Sep 7) and Nungambakkam (Sep 8)

Composting by Navneeth Raghavan

Garbage segregation by Navneeth Raghavan

Managing garbage effectively by Srinivas Krishnaswamy & Preethi Sukumaran

Here is a quick guide to start composting and recycling:

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