At The Body Shop, we’re committed to tackling the plastic crisis differently. Discover how we’re fighting for people and the planet with Community Trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru, India. Our trade will help empower the waste pickers we support with access to more sanitary working conditions, a fair price and the respect and recognition they deserve.
An artwork of a female Indian waste picker by perceptual artist Michael Murphy is unveiled in London’s Borough Market to celebrate the launch of The Body Shop’s first Community Trade recycled plastic initiative, supporting marginalised waste pickers in Bengaluru, India. Photo credit: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
It’s no secret that plastic pollution has become a global crisis and the planet is drowning in plastic. It affects marine and ocean life, but it affects people too.
In India, almost a third of waste is uncollected. This has given rise to 1.5 million people known as ‘waste pickers’ who collect this waste in the informal sector. In Bengaluru, we’re working with an organisation who proudly call themselves the ‘Green Force’. They work with waste pickers who are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to clean up their city’s streets.
‘Waste pickers’, however, are mostly made up of ‘dalits’, formally known as ‘untouchables’, the lowest social group in India’s caste system. This means that they are vulnerable to discrimination and poor working conditions.
That’s why we want to do more than fight pollution. We want to drive social change and help to empower people too.
Top (from left to right): Shameem, Rihana & Husna. Bottom (from left to right): Mallika Bhaniu & Nagma
Over 3 billion people around the planet are living in countries without waste management – that’s almost half of the world’s population.
India alone has 1.5 million ‘waste pickers’ working in the informal sector to clean up their streets and cities.
Pictured left to right: Lilly Dibi & Naseema Bibi
In 2015, the price waste pickers received for plastic they collected* dropped by 60%. The price has recently dropped even further.
Pictured above: Mamata
‘Waste pickers’ are vulnerable to harassment by the police, constant displacement and no access to health and financial services. It’s time to empower, support and celebrate them.
Pictured above: Mamata
*60% price drop data provided by Plastics For Change, based on their research.
Dolly is a 20-year-old mother. Born into a family of waste pickers, she left school when she was nine to support the family. Her father rents a small piece of land on the outskirts of Bengaluru where he has built tin housing for his family and workers.
Dolly’s main role was to sort dry waste material, especially plastic, that can be sold to scrap shops and dealers. From her early waste picking days, Dolly recounts tales of harassment from authorities, which is the norm for waste pickers. Now, she enjoys the relative peace and safety of her new community.
Last year, Dolly stopped work because she became a mother to a daughter, Marufa. Her dream is to become a tailor and give her daughter a brighter future.
At The Body Shop, we’re committed to tackling the plastic crisis differently.
Not using plastic is not the only answer. If used responsibly it can be sustainable, so we need to show love for the plastic that we do use.
An abundant resource of recyclable plastic already exists. That’s why we’ve started using Community Trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru, India.
This not only helps tackle the existing problem, it will also help to empower the waste pickers we support in Bengaluru with access to more sanitary working conditions, a fair price and the respect and recognition they deserve.
Plastics for Change are a for-profit organisation that partners with local NGOs Hasiru Dala and Hasiru Dala Innovation (HDI) to provide Bengaluru’s waste pickers with a stable income and better opportunities. These partnerships help integrate marginalised waste workers and waste pickers into organised waste management by utilising their expertise. For HDI, their main focus is improving the livelihoods of waste pickers so that they can boost their entrepreneurial skills. They also provide training for other useful skills, including urban gardening.
Annamma was a waste picker since she was a child. Now she is a manager of a Dry Waste Collection Centre. With the help of Plastics for Change and Hasiru Dala, Annamma received managerial training and now employs a number of people, including her husband. Annamma’s daughter is attending a plastic engineering course. Annamma wants her daughter to stay in the waste management business.
He had a difficult childhood watching his mother struggle when they lost his father, but discovering he could make money from waste picking allowed him to build his future. With the help of Plastics for Change and Hasiru Dala, Krishna went from waste picking to collecting waste from 24 different locations in the city. Now, he manages a team that provides a monthly waste collection service for 3-star hotels. Krishna has high ambitions for the future of other waste pickers in Bengaluru.
We’ve started using our Community Trade recycled plastic in our 250ml Shampoo and Conditioner bottles.***
After our plastic is collected and sorted in waste segregation centres, it is cleaned, compressed into bales and transported to Europe where it is converted, rigorously cleaned and sterilised. The resultant resin is tested to food grade standards and is then converted into granules and recycled back into our bottles. In the future, we want to buy even more Community Trade recycled plastic from our partners so we can use it in more of our product packaging and strive to be even more sustainable.
We know we’ve got a long way to go, but don’t worry. This is just the start of our Community Trade partnership and our commitment to tackling the plastic crisis. Who knows what we can achieve together next?
***100% recycled plastic with 15% Community Trade recycled plastic, excluding our bottle caps.
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