Nalini Shekar, 52 FOUNDER, HASIRU DALA, BENGALURU
Mission: To integrate waste pickers with sustainable waste management in the city.
The journey: Founded in 2013, the not-for-profit Hasiru Dala works for the well-being of marginalised waste pickers in Bengaluru and also brings in sustainable practices in solid waste management. With a membership of 7,500 workers, it helps them evolve new business models in waste collection. The NGO has managed to get waste pickers government-recognised identity cards and other benefits like health insurance and loans.
This started in 2011 when four apartment complexes in Bengaluru volunteered to segregate their waste. They evolved a differential pricing model whereby residents would pay a higher rate for reject waste (that goes to landfills) and lower for recyclable kitchen waste. This dramatically cut down the waste headed for landfills.
Following a franchise model, five people work for every 1,500 houses. The NGO also helps each franchise buy trucks. The waste is then aggregated at a collection centre from where it is dispatched to a composting plant or landfills.
Building on this further, in 2015 the NGO set up Hasiru Dala Innovations to create new and sustainable livelihood options for waste pickers like offering potting and de-weeding services.
Impact: Created 540 new jobs and organised 7,500 waste pickers to work in 175 residential complexes.
Challenges: Political pressures can lead to arbitrary decisions; need a consistent, ecofriendly government policy