Nagar Mitra is a name that PET Bottle Recollection Social Enterprise has given to the people who work for waste management. The waste workers have a significant role in retrieval, collection and sorting of useful materials from solid waste. Despite their job being crucial for waste management, they are treated lowly by the society. Due to the stigma associated with their occupation, their recognition in society is very low. They face different forms of ill-treatment like harassment and discrimination as people consider them ‘dirty’ and ‘untouchables’. Often treated as ‘scavengers’, the waste workers cannot afford to equip themselves with safety gears because of which they are exposed to hazardous and toxic materials, being highly prone to high risks like skin cancer.
Despite the hard work, they live in absolute poverty. The waste workers sell the collected PET at ridiculously low price to the local scrap dealers, who further sell it to bottle recycling companies in Nepal or illegally to India. These real heroes, who put their own health at a great risk to keep our city clean, are never able to come out of the stigma, poverty and low quality life.
We, through PET Bottle Recollection Social Enterprise are trying to improve their quality of life, providing them respectable and fair priced working environment. To reduce the level of stigma associated with their job, we call them ‘Nagar Mitra’ instead of calling them mere waste workers or waste collectors. They are our friends who help us in keeping our home and the environment clean. We attempt to provide equal respect to their job as we give to other jobs. No job is inferior. We had to do the work of waste management by ourselves if our friends were not there to help us. So, this social enterprise aims to give equal appreciation to the job of waste management like any other job.
PET Bottle Recollection Social Enterprise is an initiative designed and implemented by HCI that works towards maximizing benefits for the impoverished and needy in the society, solving social and environmental problems alongside. It is a social enterprise that is set up with the prime motive of helping the society unlike general enterprise that is set up to gain profit. The enterprise solves social, environmental and economic problems using commercial strategies. Any surplus made by this social enterprise is ploughed back to its beneficiaries.
It addresses three societal needs at the same time:
- It provides respectful and fair-price working environment for waste workers.
- It provides jobs to less educated and disadvantaged women.
- It contributes to reduce environmental pollution in urban areas of Nepal.
PET Bottle Recollection initiative recognizes the need of joint collaboration between the civil society and private sectors to share the responsibility with the government in keeping the cities clean. The enterprise will gradually increase the involvement of its beneficiaries in the running of the organization with an eventual goal of making the beneficiaries independent and self-reliant business entrepreneurs.