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This Clever Platform Is Helping Waste Pickers Solve India's Growing Trash Problem

Bangalore waste pickers now separate organics from recyclables at local homes and offices—and make a lot more money.

About 25,000 people scour Bangalore's garbage dumps looking for things to sell. As in many cities, the lack of formal waste management infrastructure is a picker's gain: there's plenty to scavenge. But then the pickers have to endure unimaginable conditions, and many run into health problems. The average life expectancy of a picker in Bangalore is just 39.

The idea of I Got Garbage—a project from local consulting firm Mindtree—is twofold. First, it aims to employ pickers in more healthful conditions—to have them still be pickers, but to work door-to-door, instead of among the detritus. And second, to take on some of the challenge of ever-growing waste in Indian cities. Bangalore (officially called Bengaluru) alone produces about 6,000 tons a day, or 600 truckloads, the vast majority of which is "disposed of" rather than "managed" in any careful way.