Bringing ‘ragpickers’ into the mainstream

Streamlining recycling has many advantages for India: expert

Streamlining collection and recycling of goods will have a tremendous impact on India’s social, economic and environmental sectors, according to Commodore (retd) Sujeet Samaddar, former senior consultant of Niti Aayog, who was in the team that formulated India’s draft Material Recycling Policy.

Above all, it will bring ‘ragpickers’ from the informal into the mainstream economy, ensuring minimum wages, healthcare and identification cards, he said here.

The draft policy has taken a holistic approach towards the issue. Apart from boosting employment, it will usher in the much-needed research and development in the sector. On the economy side, the policy lays emphasis on the 6 R’s of recycling—reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, redesign, and re-manufacture. Goods must be reusable-friendly from the drawing board/design stage itself, Mr. Samaddar said.

The environmental benefits of recycling are better quality of air, water and land due to less usage of water and energy and the subsequent fall in emission of green-house gas. It also generates revenue collection, since the shift from the informal to the formal economy will bring about tax compliance. Above all, the inclusion of recycling in school curriculum will ensure that several generations realise that “scrap is wealth”.

Mr. Samaddar added that the draft policy had set year-wise targets for each sector, so that up to 70% of goods are recycled in another 10 years.

On whether insistence on importing scrap could increase concerns of India becoming a dumping yard for goods, sources in the recycling sector said the Hong Kong Convention had laid out guidelines for responsible recycling.

Interestingly, India is not a signatory to the convention.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 3:24:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/bringing-ragpickers-into-the-mainstream/article26164281.ece

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