Now when someone asks us what work we do we tell them we recycle waste. It was not like this many years ago. Then we would say “Nothing”. Then we would say we just rummage through waste. Then we did not know that there would be other takers for it. Yes we did earn money from selling the scrap that we managed to collect. None of us really thought of it as work. Just as something that we did to make ends meet.

Now we proudly call ourselves recycling workers. Now we know that the work we do saves the municipality a lot of money in garbage management. Now we know it prevents the cutting down of trees and extraction from mines. Now we know that recycling saves energy and we mitigate climate change. Now we know that big companies are plotting ways to get at the waste that we have made our own.  

We have all been together as a Union for over a decade. We have had small victories and occasional setbacks. Collective successes and some challenges. We move forward with a shared vision and a common perspective. We feel a strong sense of togetherness and solidarity. Along the way we have changed our ways of being, working and living. We have marked the many crossroads on this journey.

Timeline of change
  • 2010

    • PMC invites EOIs for transfer station privatisation.
    • PCMC invites tenders for primary and secondary waste collection.
    • Census 2011 finds decadal growth rate of Pune is 30.34. The district houses 8.4% of Maharashtra state population.
    • GOI mentions wastepickers in the Plastic Waste Management and Handling Rules 2011.
    • PMC calls for tenders for capping Uruli landfill.
    • E waste management and handling rules notified .
    • CII organises Waste Management Summit in Hyderabad.
    • ITC WOW and Ramky group tie up for paper recycling.
  • 2009

    • Open dumping at Uruli landfill stopped.
    • Hanjer Biotech PMC MOU signed. Hanjer company starts operations .
    • Ministry of urban devt GOI issues guidelines with clause about integration of wastepickers.
    • Wastepickers participate in climate change conferences.
    • FICCI organises Environment conclave focussing on SWM.
    • SWaCH PCMC MOU signed and SWaCH PCMC starts operations.
    • 300 wastepickers at landfill displaced and lose their livelihoods.
    • Ministry of Labour constitutes task force for social security with representation of wastepicker organisations.
    • KKPKP SWaCH start composting services; paper bags manufacture – waste enterprise promotion.
    • ITC WOW and Ramky tie up for waste paper collection in cities where Ramky is contracted 500 MTPD SELCO mechanical composting plant closes.
  • 2008

    • PMC commissions 14 decentralised biomethanation WTE plants on BOOT basis.
    • PMC contracts Disha for setting up 200MTPD composting plant on BOOT basis.
    • Government of Maharashtra sets up PPP cell . Makes PPP policy. World Bank to support SWM PPP.
    • FICCI report lists Pune as having scope for landfill gas recovery.
    • Pune starts reporting as per SSLBs for SWM.
    • Unorganised Workers Social Security Act enacted by parliament.
    • GOI finance ministry comes out with position paper on PPP in SWM.
  • 2007

    • Pune CDP includes primary collection by wastepickers coop.
    • Separate SWM department created in PMC. SWM part of health department budget but operationally separated out along with vehicle department.
    • Maharashtra adopts PPP, privatisation, waste to energy, landfill privatisation model.
    • PMC streamlines waste collection from bulk waste generators .
    • Attempts to collect garden waste on specified days.
    • Scathing CAG Performance Audit of SWM.
  • 2006

    • PMC SwaCH MOU signed and swach becomes operational.
    • State urban development secretary issues letter to all municipalities asking them to start medical insurance and give equipment etc.
    • PMC constructs sorting sheds for wastepickers.
    • Villages refuse to permit acquisition of land for landfill purposes.
    • PMC starts giving property tax rebate to households that take care of their organic waste.
    • Global economic recession.
    • GOI E waste guidelines formulated.
  • 2005

    • SWaCH approved by General Body PMC.
    • Maharashtra Non Biodegradable Garbage (control) Act enacted.
    • Pune Commissioner constitutes steering committee on SWM. Committee pushes decentralised processing and landfill diversion.
    • Maharashtra govt issues SWM guidelines incorporating wastepickers.
    • PMC provides sorting sheds and space for scrap store in Pune.
    • FICCI carries out survey on scope of privatisation of SWM in India including Pune.
    • ITC starts WOW programme.
    • EMC prepares ISWM plan for UNEP.
    • PMC starts participatory budgeting.
    • Economic aspects of waste informal sector study.
    • National Environment Policy mentions need to support informal recyclers.
    • PMC starts computerisation.
    • GOI enacts the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Act.
  • 2004

    • PMC gets financial assistance from GOI for SWM under airfield cities scheme.
    • NCDMA started.
    • AIILSG study of waste generation and collection in Pune.
    • Entry of other organisations claiming to represent wastepickers.
    • PMC initiates Chakachak clean city campaign.
    • DTDC pilot project to integrate wastepickers commences.
    • Government of India launches JNNURM.
  • 2002

    • PMC budget provides for medical insurance premium of scrap collectors.
    • Government of Maharashtra issues GR about handing over doorstep waste collection to organisation of wastepickers.
    • National Labour Commission makes recommendations in respect of wastepickers.
    • PMC enters into an agreement with I.V.R Company for processing biodegradable waste.
    • PMC starts EM spraying at Uruli Landfill.
  • 2001

    • National Labour Commission makes recommendations in respect of wastepickers.
    • PMC enters into an agreement with I.V.R Company for processing biodegradable waste.
    • PMC starts EM spraying at Uruli Landfill.
    • Judgement in Uruli Gram Panchayat SWM mentions Ragpickers Association and integration of wastepickers. Only non recyclables permitted at landfill.
    • Biomedical waste collection privatised.
    • Government of Maharashtra sets up SWM Cell.
  • 2000

    • Judgement in Paranjpe Oak SWM mentions Ragpickers Association and integration of wastepickers.
  • 1999

    • ILO study quantifies the contribution of scrap collectors.
    • UNDP invites NGOs working with wastepickers to submit projects.
    • Kothrud Landfill closes on Mumbai High Court orders in writ petition filed by residents forum.
    • Technology Advisory Group constituted by MOUD, GOI.
  • 1998

    • MSW 2000 Rules passed by GOI.
    • Uruli Gram Panchayat files writ petition in respect of nuisance of waste dumping at Uruli landfill.
    • PMC becomes fully containerised waste collection system with skip loaders.
    • PMC Vehicle up gradation commences .
    • Starts transfer stations.
    • Starts door to door collection using own vehicles in few pockets.
    • PCMC issues LOI to GENL for 200 MTPD bio-methanation plant.
    • PMC starts BOT cell .
    • Maharashtra state bans recruitment of class III and class IV employees for two years. Ban keeps getting extended. Effectively recruitment has been stopped..
  • 1997

    • KKPKP starts Kashtachi Kamai scrap shop space provided by PCMC.
  • 1996

    • KKPKP starts wastepickers credit coop PMC and PCMC endorse identity cards of waste pickers.
  • 1995

    • Commissioner forms citizens committee on SWM that comes out with a report recommending integration of wastepickers.
    • Apex Committee on SWM set up by PMC.
    • PCMC starts vermi-composting project with INORA and NRG consultants.
    • Almitra Patel files PIL 888/1996 on SWM.
    • Asim Burman Committee Report.
  • 1994

    • Bajaj Committee Report recommends cooperatives of wastepickers for waste collection KKPKP starts first coop scrap shop.
  • 1993

    • Plague epidemic in Surat.
    • Privatisation of solid waste management is one of the steps to contain the spread.
  • 1992

    • Plague epidemic in Surat.
    • First Convention of Waste pickers Registration of KKPKP.