Municipal solid waste recycling and associated markets in Delhi, India

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Agarwal, Ankit
Singhmar, Ashish
Kulshrestha, Mukul
Mittal, Atul K
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Recycling of the municipal solid waste (MSW) was investigated and analyzed in the Indian capital city of Delhi. It was found that an informal sector comprising waste recyclists and a hierarchy of recyclable dealers plays an important role in the management of solid waste. The associated activity transports nearly 17% of the waste to the recycling units (RU). In this process an entire market is created for the recycle trade. The present work covered an extensive study of this waste trade with emphasis on the most important unit of the waste chain, the recyclists. Extensive interviews and surveys with recyclists from various slums helped in evaluating the market mechanisms of the recycla trade in Delhi and in revealing details of this informal sector. Through a number of field interviews undertaken on recyclists, recyclables dealers and municipal authorities, a complete hierarchy from recyclists to the final sellers of the recycled product was identified and delineated and the profits at each level determined. The value addition to each product at every level of the waste trade was also determined. Two models were subsequently proposed to evaluate the possibility of formalizing the unorganized waste trade. It was concluded that it is possible to organize the sector, but this would leave more than 66,000 recyclists without employment, a consequence of organizing an activity that presently provides employment and daily living to nearly 89,600 recyclists who belong to the poorest strata of the society. The work also probes into the various aspects of the lives of the recyclists and provides details of the economics of MSW.
Municipal solid waste, Recycling, Recyclists, Recycle trade, Economics of MSW