The informal waste sector: a solution to the recycling problem in developing countries

Par Siddharth Hande
Founder and CEO, Kabadiwalla Connect

The recovery of post-consumer waste in cities in the developing world is driven by the informal ecosystem. Kabadiwalla Connect, a technology-based social enterprise based in Chennai, has determined that leveraging the informal ecosystem of urban waste recyclers has the potential to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfi lls in Indian cities by 70 percent.

In the current scenario, municipalities, multinational brands, and waste management companies struggle to work effectively with informal stakeholders – despite increasing evidence of the commercial, environmental, and social benefits of forming mutually beneficial partnerships. Through a unique business process and award winning technology, Kabadiwalla Connect integrates the informal ecosystem into the reverselogistics supply chain, helping municipalities, brands, and waste management companies recover postconsumer waste efficiently and more inclusively in the developing world.

Rather than approaching the informality as a problem and developing a new system for waste management, Kabadiwalla Connect uses its technology platform to leverage the already existing informal infrastructure toward a more efficient waste management system. The KC platform makes the informal ecosystem more accessible to other players. Municipalities can utilise informal infrastructure to bring down operational costs; waste management firms can source from it; corporations can carry out their extended producer responsibility through it; apartments and small businesses can send their recyclable waste directly to informal stakeholders that are a part of the informal ecosystem.