India has 1.5 million waste pickers who make a living by picking up and recycling discarded plastics. In the last year they have suffered a 60% drop in the price they receive for the plastic they collect. (PET in Bangalore) The value of recycled plastic has plummeted because low oil prices has made it cheaper for companies to use virgin plastic rather than recycled. The low demand for recycled plastic is having a crippling impact on the development recycling infrastructure globally.This is resulting in both an environmental disaster and humanitarian tragedy. Waste pickers often have barriers to formal employment so when they are unable to make a living from recycling there is no safety net for them to rely on.
The low price results in less waste pickers feeding plastic into the supply chain, therefore the middlemen and processing facilities are closing down.With limited markets to create value from plastic, the waste often ends up being dumped out of sight out of mind. As a further environmental consequence, replacing the use of recycled plastic with virgin plastic results in approximately 2-3 times greater C02 emissions, further accelerating climate change.
To address this problem Plastics For Change has developed a deal process and mobile platform to create markets for the recycled plastics and to revitalize the recycling infrastructure.The platform creates transparency and accountability through the supply chain to ensure that those at the base receive a fair price for the plastic they collect. Supporting these dignified jobs and increasing recycling rates benefits everyone through the supply chain.
Companies who agree to pay fair market prices in advance may use this environmentally and socially responsible plastic in their manufacturing.
The initiative is being launched with Hasiru Dala in in Bangalore with plans to scale the platform to create positive change globally.