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Two waste pickers walking down a street

A decent and dignified income for India’s waste pickers

The issue

Informal waste workers carry out 90% of the recycling in developing countries. But the lack of recognition for what they do puts them at the mercy of price volatility and means they struggle to make ends meet.

What can we do about it?

Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards winner Andrew Almack was backpacking through India when he noticed the extent of the problem. He found it hard to believe that people couldn’t make a living by collecting discarded plastics – so he set out to prove his point.

His business – Plastics for Change – was set up as a mobile app to help the 1.5 million waste pickers in India get paid fairly for the plastic they collect, while helping brands meet their extended producer responsibility.

Six years on, Andrew has developed a franchise model to support recycling businesses that pay waste pickers decent incomes and provides training to boost their incomes. The company also ensures a consistent supply of high-quality recycled plastic for brands and is the first recycler to be verified by the World Fair Trade Organization.

Today, the business is working hard to support waste-picker families with essential food and hygiene items during the Covid crisis.

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