The trade union, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), was registered in 1993, bringing together Pune’s waste pickers, itinerant waste buyers, and others from the informal waste collection system. These workers reclaim, categorise and sell scrap materials for recycling. Led by some of the poorest Dalit women of Pune, KKPKP successfully argued that the work of materials recovery and handling by waste pickers is environmentally sustainable, economically productive, and saves municipalities millions of rupees in solid waste management. The union stood against waste picker exploitation by citizens, the Police, municipal workers, loan sharks and large scrap traders. It also focussed on accessing formal health care, credit, education and social security for waste pickers and their families through collective reflection and action, establishing a new system of community based centres to increase awareness of and enrolment in government programs.

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