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Wanted: Ideas rethinking waste management in India

Together with Social Alpha and JSW Foundation we’re looking for solutions in waste management, that can move the needle towards a circular economy in India, while enabling social inclusion for informal waste pickers of Bengaluru.

Image of person holding plastic caught in fishnet.

Through Techtonic – Innovations in Circular Economy we are hoping to find India-based innovators who can integrate informal waste pickers into the circular economy and create stable employment opportunities for them while accelerating waste management and processing in Bengaluru, Vijayanagar and Dolvi among other cities. This is part of our larger holistic initiative Saamuhika Shakti where eight different partners are working closely toghether through a collective impact setup to improve the quality of life for this very marginalized group.

Creating inclusive ciruclarity

Yearly, 62 million tons of waste is generated in India. Only 60% of the municipal waste is collected and a meagre 15% of the municipal waste is processed and treated. Waste pickers are a vital part of the waste management system. In fact, they are the largest driving force behind recycling, given that they are the ones sorting through trash and pulling out recyclable materials.

If challenges related to the waste pickers lives and the waste sector can be addressed, waste pickers have the potential to be a key player in a global circular system – and could not only contribute to the health and state of our planet, but also uplift themselves out of poverty.

“At H&M Foundation we see it as both essential and inspirational to use technology and innovation to create social change. Waste management and material recycling are fundamental components of a circular economy, but in order for it to be truly sustainable, it needs to include the very group of people that upholds this value chain in India – the waste picker community. With Techtonic, we want to find disruptive innovations in the waste management chain that will contribute to creating sustainable improvements in the lives of informal waste pickers. We call it inclusive circularity.”

Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead H&M Foundation

Techtonic – Innovations in Circular Economy is open for applications until 12 May 2022.