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Solid Waste Management

Solid Waste Management (SWM) is one of the key challenges facing Indian cities including Chennai, having important environmental,  public health and livelihoods implications.

The Corporation of Chennai (CoC) devotes a sizable proportion of it’s resources, time and labour to SWM. In spite of this, hundreds of tons of waste go uncollected daily, with slums and low income settlements in particular finding themselves chronically under-served. Furthermore, the ‘garbage problem’ is usually framed only as a public health or aesthetic problem with the livelihood aspect scarcely acknowledged.

Our work centres on research and promotion of sustainable and inclusive solid waste management in Chennai. It is aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and understanding about waste, it’s management and the actors involved through both qualitative and quantitative research. Our primary focus at this time is the role and contribution of ‘waste-pickers’ or informal waste workers (popularly known as ‘rag pickers’) in the city’s waste scenario.

This work is done by CAG as part of the Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers and Chennai’s Future, that was formed in 2013 by Transparent Chennai along with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Madras Institute of Development Studies. The local CBOs that are part of this Initiative include Pennurimai Iyakkam, Unorganised Workers’ Federation, Thozhamai, Arunodhaya, Real Charitable Trust and Construction Worker’s Union.

Themes

Empowering waste-pickers

Waste-pickers, who form the vast majority of the informal waste sector, help divert hundreds of tons of waste from the city’s overloaded landfills. Waste-pickers are almost exclusively responsible for any recycling activity in most major cities in India and yet remain among the most economically and socially marginalised groups in urban India. Because of the social stigma attached to their work and because their occupation is not recognized by the government, their livelihood is constantly threatened and they are highly vulnerable to exploitation.

We aim to create research and documentation that increases the general awareness and understanding of the informal waste sector. This is aimed at guiding policy-makers as well as the public towards recognising the labour of waste-pickers and acknowledging their right to livelihood.

Promoting sustainable SWM

With the increasing burden of managing the solid wastes generated in the cities, it is highly imperative for the governments to move towards adopting sustainable solid waste management models as well as addressing the livelihoods, environmental, and health concerns connected to it.

Sustainable SWM implies both environmental sustainability, (through segregation-at-source, composting/bio-gas and an emphasis on the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse and recycle), as well as social sustainability (through effective decentralization of waste management, and inclusion of the informal work force that is engaged in waste recovery and recycling).

Our work involves research and promotion of sustainable and inclusive Solid Waste Management practice in Chennai. Through qualitative and quantitative research we aim at filling gaps in knowledge and understanding about waste and it’s management.

Blogs

Unraveling Chennai Corporation’s SWM Budget - the process and the (shocking) results

Out of sight, out of mind seems to be the guiding principle for our...know more

Incineration is not the solution for Chennai’s solid waste management problem

The controversial Timarpur-Okhla incineration plant in New Delhi could...know more

Put a dot on it! How a public campaign changed the way sanitary waste is disposed

Imagine opening one of your drawers on a typical office day and...know more

Occupational Hazards of a Waste Researcher

Amassing the dailies, monthlies and squeezed-till-I-have-made-sure-I-can’t...know more

BWPs: Bulk Waste Producers or the Bitter Waste Picture?

The issue of flooding has been the greatest concern among residents of...know more

Projects

Impacts of businesses on human rights

Often it is difficult to assess the impact of business practices where the...know more

Zero Waste Cities Collaborative

In February 2017, CAG joined a collaborative of ten cities in India,...know more

Understanding the dynamics of the informal waste sector

To ensure sustainable and inclusive SWM in the city, it is essential to...know more

Integrating informal waste workers through identity cards issued by the municipal government

The primary objective of this project is to achieve the de-criminalization...know more

Sustainable SWM through a Zero Waste Pilot at Ward 173

Following a detailed proposal (based on a comprehensive mapping and...know more

Resources

Decentralised Waste Management System

The story map depicts the advocated alternative to the centralised...know more

Centralised waste management

From brimming garbage bins to diminishing space in landfills, the city’s...know more

Study Trip to Thanal, Trivandrum, Kerala

This is a short report documenting the Zero Waste Cities Collaborative...know more

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Government of India notification of the rules for handling of waste know more

Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

Government of India notification of the rules for handling of waste know more

Events

Kuppai Tiruvizha

Background Chennai, the city we call our home, is one of the...know more

World Environmental Day

CAG, in collaboration Apollo Tyre Foundation and implementing partner Real...know more

30 years of CAG

We are starting CAG's 30th year celebrations with a public conversation...know more