Recycling Ideas from India – Doing Business Better


Hi Mary of Business Angel writing to you from New Delhi, India.  Doing some touring and visiting with family.  As I mentioned in my previous post and on our Facebook Page at businessangelva, I have decided while I am away I would explore business and customs of India I find interesting and useful to share with you, for instance;

In Canada, recycling is mainstream and we are asked to save our environment by doing our part, I am totally for that, but in order to “do our part” we must jump through hoops cleaning, sorting, looking for symbols, and placing them in the appropriate bag, so they can be picked up at the door in limited quantities, but not all recyclables nope, some can only be disposed of at the recycling or waste plant and then we have to pay them to be environmental friendly and we wonder why more people don’t do it?

Well, in India with the amount of people in this country it is safe to say that many Indian people are looking for a way to make money, not for a new car or designer clothes but just to eat and provide for their families, being there is not a lot of jobs especially for unskilled workers many Indians have created their own jobs or ultimately a small business for themselves.  In India as you can imagine garbage is a big problem and recycling is necessary not just for the environment but for health concerns of the country, so everyday recyclers (called kabaadi in Hindi) will go around the different communities on a bicycle or small car, picking up and paying people for their recyclables like aluminum, copper, newspaper, magazines, plastics etc.  No worries about cleaning or sorting into bags etc., you just give the kabaadi your waste they weight and pay fixed pricing per kg depending on the items.   They will then take all they collect to the recycling depot and get paid by the depot at a slightly higher rate giving them instant cash for their daily needs.  Getting paid to recycle what a concept, and what incentive for people to collect and recycle their waste products and not just throw it out onto the street or garbage.  The recycling depots can then sell the recycled goods back to refineries and manufactures to use for new products saving the manufactures cost on supplies.  Even the dumps are scavenged by kabaddi people for recyclables to sell and earn money.  Imagine how many people earn money daily just doing what we do for free and pay to do, so they can sell back to the refineries and manufactures to make money on, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Let’s face it North Americans are naturally lazy the more work involved to do the “right thing” the more people say oh to heck with it I don’t have the time to do this or  I already have a job.  I hear it all the time that we must do our part as people but what about the manufactures and shipping companies.   I feel they are one of the biggest contributors to the waste in our country everything is boxed even when it comes in a container or bottle. Everything is packaged with advertising, shipped in boxes twice the size of the object and then filled in with plastic and Styrofoam chips, yes even today with all the knowledge we have about the landfills over flowing companies are still shipping with these nasty little kernels, which just get thrown away.  In India many products are sold just as the item themselves and not a bunch of fancy boxing that just gets thrown out.  Some products like perfume, you buy in Canada you get the bottle, in a box with liners and fillers with all the same information that is already on the bottle.  Really, what is the purpose of that? Is it necessary? I don’t think so.  In India you get a bottle of perfume that is it no extra cost or waste.  It is not like we keep the fancy little box it came in no we throw it out or if we are being environmentally conscious we throw it in recycling.  Even recycled paper bags are broken down, remanufactured and made to look like the bag you just threw out.  When my Indian family came back from shopping last night with all their purchases there were either in cloth bags they brought themselves or provided by the vendor, plastic bags are banned from Delhi and are illegal for vendors to use and for smaller items paper bags are given that are literally made from newspaper.  A few pieces of tape and there you go instant bag and no energy usage, fumes or smoke from manufacturing plants, etc.  Yes, it is just a small thing but in a country of this size the small things add up to big change.

Just makes me think how much more we can still do and learn from other countries on how we can conserve recycle and reuse as a nation before it becomes a bigger problem than it is already, not just as individuals, but as companies and manufactures too.  Would you be willing to give up some niceties? Simply things like buying makeup and bottled products like perfume and beauty products without a fancy cardboard box?  Instead of a manufactured recycled bag with the stamp on the bottom saying this was made from recycled paper would you except a paper bags made from newsprint or convert to cloth bags instead of plastic, rather than paying an extra 5 cents for a plastic bag, the stores way of being environmentally friendly, not really… you will just end up contributing to the landfills anyway.  How about our government would they be willing give incentives to people by purchasing recycling by weight and create jobs for other people to sort recycled items making it easier for people to do their part and provide employment to unskilled workers or those living on government funding like welfare, the government is paying anyway why not give them a purpose.  Would companies and manufactures be willing to fore go extra packaging and advertising on product boxes to  reduce cost, produce  less waste and use less power to make our world a better place if it meant we could have a cleaner better world for our children and our children’s children?

I am not suggesting this will solve our waste crisis but thought it great food for thought on how we could improve and learn other countries to create solutions for the world as a whole not just as a country.  What do you think?


  1. November 1, 2012

    Namaste and thank you everyone for your great comments, it is appreciated. It is nice to know that people are enjoying and getting something from my articles. I am so so glad you enjoyed this article and rest assured I will have more to come during my time here in India. So come back soon.