Case Study: Standardizing informal recycling methods and providing a consistent supply of recycled plastics

An excerpt from Kelly Maile’s Recycling Today article

After backpacking through Southeast Asia, Andrew Almack became fascinated with the relationship between plastic and poverty. Seeing people constantly “surrounded by plastic” inspired him to start Plastics for Change (PFC), a multinational fair-trade organization, which is bringing a standardized recycling system to India’s 1.5 million informal scrap pickers who sort more than 6,000 tons of plastic per day.

“I chose to move to India because it has the greatest number of people living in poverty and the most amount of uncollected plastic,” says Almack, who moved to Bangalore in 2016.

India operates under an informal recycling and scrap picking economy, Almack explains. “Ninety percent is informal. They’re generally not registered companies. There’s a lot of varying forms of exploitation that happens in the informal, unregulated sector,” including child labor.

He adds, “Almost everything is down-cycled into lower value products. There’s no quality control.”

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