Monday, October 11, 2010

We’re crucial to environment, ragpicker tells world

Maya Khodave is a rag picker in Nashik. Presently, she is in Tianjin,
China, asserting the role of ragpickers in maintaining the world

“Our work is dirty and hard, but it has real benefits for the larger
society as recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves
resources. Governments should recognise our work and cooperate with
our efforts to improve our working conditions and increase recycling,”
Maya, a leader of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, a union of
waste pickers, told the international audience at the United Nations
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The conference, which started on October 4, will go on till October 9.

Exuding confidence, Maya, who has studied up to Std V, enlightened the
audience of the environmental balance that the work of waste pickers

At the United Nations negotiations on climate change, leaders of waste
pickers’ organisations denounced waste-to-energy technologies and
demanded recognition and financial support for their contribution to
fighting climate change.

Two more waste pickers Baidabai Gaikwad (Pune) and Sushila Sable
(Mumbai) have joined Maya in China.

“Currently, we get no benefits. The govt’s support would help us do
our work more efficiently. With a little grant money, we can increase
our recycling and produce biogas from the organic waste, instead of
sending it to landfills,” added Maya who also takes care of her two

The decomposition of organic waste in landfills is a leading source of
methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. “Recycling reduces emissions from
deforestation, mining, manufacturing, transport and disposal.
Nevertheless, the UNFCCC has not taken notice of waste or waste
pickers. The Clean Development

Mechanism (CDM) has supported waste incinerators and landfill gas
systems which have moved towards displacing waste pickers,” she added.

The CDM is a big problem, Maya said. “It finances private companies
which are burning waste, which instead could be recycled and
composted. That increases emissions and hurts us economically,” she
said, quoting a report by Respect for Recyclers, documenting that the
CDM has backed approximately 185 incinerators and landfill gas
projects, but no recycling projects.


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