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UN meet: Indian rag pickers demand financial support


New Delhi : Three Indian rag pickers Wednesday addressed the UN climate change conference in China and demanded financial support for their contribution in fighting climate change.

Baidabai Gaikwad from Pune, Maya Khodave from Nasik and Sushila Sable from Mumbai represented waste pickers from India at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Tianjin in China Wednesday.

“Our work is dirty and hard, but it has real benefits for the larger society. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves resources. Governments should recognise our work and cooperate with our efforts to improve our working conditions and increase recycling,” said Khodave.

Fifteen million people worldwide earn a living through waste picking. Waste pickers offer a real solution for climate change mitigation and waste management.

“Currently, we get no identity card and no benefits. These would help us carry out our work more safely and securely,” she said. “But we can do more. With a little grant, we can increase recycling and produce biogas from organic waste, instead of sending it to land fills.”

The decomposition of organic waste in land fills is a leading source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Recycling reduces environment impact due to deforestation, mining, manufacturing, transport and disposal.