Waste Ventures Charities

Waste Ventures changes the paradigm of 'collect and dump' garbage practices in emerging market cities into a commercially competitive model of environmental solid waste management owned by waste pickers. In doing so, Waste Ventures, over the next 10 years, will create a sector that will alleviate poverty for 20 million people and annually eliminate 350 million tons of garbage from developing city dumps.
Mar 5, 2012

Waste Ventures in Madhya Pradesh

Dear Supporters,

It’s hard to believe three months have already flown by since the last project update. I’m writing this one from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, where Waste Ventures has been working with Indian Grameen Services - exploring ways to involve the 5,000-plus waste pickers in and around Indore in the region’s solid waste management initiatives.

Indian Grameen Services (IGS) has been working with over 1,000 of these waste pickers in eight urban and peri-urban slums over the last four years. With educational programs for waste picker children and financial literacy training for their parents, they’re building groups of waste pickers that are investing in better futures. More than 100 children were moved into the mainstream public school system last year (kids who were otherwise helping their parents collect waste scraps - completely missing out on the chance to ever learn to read). They’ve helped hundreds of women open up savings accounts, and form them into self-help groups, which encourage savings and make collective loans to their members.

It’s awesome to be able to work with a change-making team like IGS, and we’re exhilarated that we get to help up the ante even more. IGS has helped waste pickers to do more with what little they have, but the fact remains: they still have way too little. Without a model for increasing their ability to earn, they continue to cram their families into one-room homes without access to running water, much less a toilet. This is where Waste Ventures comes in.

By working with IGS to build a waste picker company, we will increase the revenue potential of each kg of waste by 4x, thus increasing waste picker incomes, and giving them a stable, safe working environment. We are now in the process of comparing a few options for introducing door-to-door garbage pick-up services provided by waste pickers – all in and around Indore. The focus is on residential communities that do not have access to garbage services, and where waste is piling up in empty lots and roadside drains.

Once we have selected a project location, you will be the first to know – after all, your donations are what will make it possible to equip the first waste pickers we hire. Thank you (again)!

You don’t have to wait three months to hear updates from us, and can always read up on founder Parag’s blog, Talking Trash, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook.

Warm wishes to you all,

Tiffany and the Waste Ventures team


*March Special*

2 minutes of your time helps us win $10,000 – thanks to a presentation contest hosted by SlideRocket. To make it, we have to be among the most-viewed presentations. If you have just 2 minutes, please just take a quick look and then pass it along to everyone you can!


Nov 28, 2011

November update on Waste Ventures

Suman at work in Osmanabad
Suman at work in Osmanabad

Osmanabad update

Our work in Osmanabad has employed 60 waste pickers and drivers to provide daily collection for 26,000 households. This project broke new ground, as it was the first integrated solid waste management contract provided to a waste picker cooperative. These women and men have had a secure and stable salary, and a safe place to work. They also did more than just collect garbage from people's doorsteps. In response to a special request from the city leaders, they also spent extra time shoveling piles of waste from roadsides and empty lots - to clean up the city after years of non-existent waste management.

Despite this enormous improvement to the cleanliness of the city and jobs for some of its poorest residents, political conflicts that recently broke out in the city have prevented payments on our contract and jeopardized the salaries for the waste collectors. We have frozen our project in Osmanabad, and are assisting the waste picker cooperative to pursue legal action against the municipal leaders for breach of contract. 

Going forward

While tempting to paint all municipalities with a broad negative brushstroke, Waste Ventures has spent time understanding critical learnings from this experience.

  1. Insisting on a collection of a household fee so we may minimize municipal involvement to a one-time provision of land/ capital equipment at the beginning of the project: This ensures a market- transaction that ensures services are valued while also minimizing risk due to political conflict
  2. Training a local operations manager with both social capital and a pulse of the local political situation that may appropriately react to the situation

We are also starting projects from the ground up that build customer relationships with the households themselves we’ve designed a model in which we employ waste collectors to collect garbage daily from households for a monthly fee of $1.  The waste pickers earn even more by sorting and selling the waste to our processing centers, achieving the same aims of tripling their income, improving their health conditions, and putting their kids in school.  The system starts modestly and builds quickly upon success – allowing us to learn quickly from both success and failure.  

Your generous donations have been set aside to be used for funding our first waste pickers hired under the household model. But, we want you to have a say. If you would prefer for your donation to be used for the waste pickers in Osmanabad, we can apply your gift towards taking the municipal leaders of Osmanabad to court to hold them responsible for their breach of contract. Just let us know.

If it’s alright with you, we will continue to update you with our progress in a transparent and honest manner.  Changing the status quo in developing world solid waste management is not an easy task but we are not going anywhere.  We are as focused as ever to bring equity to the 1.5 million waste pickers in India that suffer through hazardous conditions to earn less than $2 a day while also reducing environmental damage and creating a sustainable market-based system.