In an unusual deal, Indian companies Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Dabur will employ rag-pickers to fix India’s 12,000 tonne-a-day plastic garbage pile-up. Hindustan Unilever is now trying to create some market value out of discarded sachets and plastic packaging.
With this deal, the rag-pickers will also get an incentive to do some work, which could be beneficial for the community. The company has also joined hands with a firm in Chennai which will turn flexible plastic waste into fuel at a viable cost; this will give the rag-pickers the required motivation to perform the task of picking up waste.
A HUL factory in Pondicherry is using the fuel to power its boilers as well. However, the spokesperson of the company refused to comment when asked about the new initiative. The rag-pickers, in the past, have helped to clean the city by picking up the waste bottles and cans, for which they get decent returns, but small sachets and lighter plastic do not fetch any money.
Light weight waste is also a big source of pollution. Every year around 2,100 crore worth of shampoo sachets are consumed. A decade ago the figure remained at just 630 crore. Dabur has also partnered with global packaging firm TetraPak India to mobilize the rag-pickers, so as to collect discarded packages of food products.