Recykal Foundation, aims to extend multifaceted support to “Safai Mitras” by creating an enabling ecosystem, today unveiled its plans to transform the lives of 1 million Safai Mitras by 2025. By redefining the title to “Safai Mitras”, the Foundation has initiated a narrative change to recognize and dignify the contribution of ‘waste workers’ across the country. The Foundation’s Unnati SETU initiative aims to drive social and economic upliftment of Safai Mitras in India.
The Indian waste management system is highly fragmented and unorganized with a varied range of players. At the bottom of this entire value chain, are the ‘Safai Mitras’ —waste pickers, processors, collectors and sanitation workers—who are the key facilitators of this sector. These individuals live under extremely miserable conditions with bare minimum incomes to sustain themselves and their families. 70% of the Safai Mitras are women, and there is a lot of mental and physical exploitation that makes it an unsafe working environment for women. These women are also underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Child labor is prevalent in this community, and often young kids are working in hazardous conditions causing severe health ailments. Due to the lack of societal recognition, this community continues to be neglected and caught in a vicious cycle. The Recykal Foundation has been founded with the goal of transforming this unaddressed segment of our society by recognizing and dignifying their contribution.
Speaking on the vision and role of the Foundation, Viiveck Verma, Chief Impact Officer said, “India generates 65 million tonnes of waste each year and the Safai Mitras form the backbone of waste management in India, who bear the brunt of this magnitude of waste. Our goal is to improve the livelihood of 1 million Safai Mitras by 2025 by building a bridge (setu) to economic and social development. This can only be achieved with an industry-wide collaborative approach. The Foundation seeks to catalyze various stakeholders in the waste management ecosystem to drive this revolutionary change. Under its Unnati SETU (Social & Economic Transformative Upliftment) initiative, Recykal Foundation has impacted the lives of 4000 Safai Mitras by distributing one meal a day, every day since Jan 26, 2022 in Gudimalkapur, Hyderabad.”
The Recykal Foundation has adopted four cornerstones, that will be instrumental in achieving the mission of transforming the lives of Safai Mitras:
- Enabling a Circular Economy: Initiate change right from the consumer by facilitating an ecosystem for responsible disposal through infrastructure establishment & policy advisory.
- Recognition and Inclusion: Dignify Safai Mitras through a two-fold support process that would ensure Social inclusion & strengthen their financial capacities.
- Equal opportunities: Connecting and strengthening all ecosystem members by providing access to varied learning & working opportunities.
- Conscious gen-next: Drive awareness events & campaigns to connect with the youth, hence building an army of aware & conscious individuals.
Key initiatives of the Recykal Foundation since its inception:
Providing holistic development: Recykal Foundation has been conducting education and health camps for the Safai Mitras and creating awareness on the importance of cleanliness by distributing safety gears that will aid these individuals.
Inclusion in the economy: The Foundation has been working with this community to help them with creation of Government IDs and universal banking access to enable them to apply for loans and redeem various subsidies offered by the Government.
Collaboration with Swachhata Kendras: Recykal Foundation is collaborating with Government institutions to expand its Swachhta Kendras. Swacchta Kendras are centers for waste material collection & channelization. These centers aim to direct the material toward recycling while simultaneously empowering the Safai Mitras through organized, regulated working conditions with a safe source of income.
Commenting on the birth of the Foundation, Abhay Deshpande, Founder, Recykal, said, “Recykal is Asia’s first circular economy marketplace and has been working with India’s Safai Mitras since 2016. Based on the challenges and gaps observed in the ecosystem, we initiated the Recykal Foundation to support this community which has been overlooked all these years.
The Foundation is in the able hands of Viiveck Verma who has 30+ years of experience as a hands-on leader, mentor, and advisor to brands and business strategists. He has been a trusted resource for many organizations and has been able to develop, inspire and motivate teams with innovative ideas and turn those ideas into reality in record-breaking time”
Through Recykal, the Foundation now has the opportunity to connect with more than 100 Urban Local Bodies, 100+ brands, 400,000+ consumers, 500+ waste aggregators & 150+ recyclers and coprocessors, 27 union territories and 100+ schools across the country who have been associated with the company through the years.