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In Pune, a cooperative of self-employed waste pickers

Female members of India’s lowest caste play an integral role in Pune’s trash collection. (Laura/flickr/cc)

In the Indian city of Pune, the lowest caste is now in high demand — as trash collectors. Carlin Carr reports for the Guardian that “untouchables” from the Dalit community have been tasked with municipal garbage collection.

An estimated 90 percent of waste pickers in the city, 150 km (93 miles) from Mumbai, are women. A union formed in 1993 laid the foundation for India’s first cooperative of self-employed trash collectors, the article says. The service is owned and operated by the garbage pickers.

Pune’s female trash workers wear green saris and use safety gear, wheeled bins and motorized carts issued by the city. Four-hour work days provide the women with time to pursue other job and educational opportunities or care for children.

In April, Citiscope reported on a related program in Bangalore that turns waste-pickers, many of whom are women, into recycling managers. 


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