Why Kabadi Wala Are Important in the Context of Waste Management

Why Kabadi Wala Are Important in the Context of Waste Management

Waste management is one of the biggest challenges that India faces today. According to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates about 62 million tonnes of solid waste every year, out of which only 43 million tonnes are collected and only 11.9 million metric tons are treated. The rest of the waste ends up in landfills, open dumps, and water bodies, or is burned, causing environmental pollution, health hazards, and greenhouse gas emissions.

In this scenario, kabaddi wala, or informal waste collectors, play a vital role in reducing the burden of waste on society and the environment. Kabadi Wala is the people who buy scrap materials such as paper, plastic, metal, glass, etc. from households, shops, offices, and industries and sell them to recyclers or wholesalers. They are also known as ragpickers, scavengers, or waste pickers.

Kabadi wala contributes to waste management in the following ways:

✔️ They divert a significant amount of waste from landfills and dumps, thus saving space, reducing leachate, and preventing methane emissions. According to a study by Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, kabaddi wala diverts about 15% of Delhi’s waste from landfills.

✔️ They recover valuable resources from waste and recycle them, thus saving energy, water, and raw materials, and reducing the demand for virgin materials. According to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), kabaddi wala recycles about 20% of India’s plastic waste.

✔️ They generate income and livelihood for themselves and their families, thus alleviating poverty and improving their socio-economic status. According to a study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), kabaddi will earn an average of Rs. 250-300 per day.

However, Kabaddi Wala also faces many challenges and risks in their work, such as:

✔️ They work in unhygienic and hazardous conditions, exposing themselves to infections, injuries, and diseases. They also lack access to basic amenities such as water, sanitation, health care, and education.

✔️ They are often exploited and harassed by middlemen, authorities, and society, who do not recognize their contribution and rights. They also face stigma and discrimination due to their caste, gender, and occupation.

✔️ They are vulnerable to the fluctuations and uncertainties of the market, which affect their income and livelihood. They also lack access to formal credit, insurance, and social security.

Therefore, there is a need to support and empower kabaddi wala and integrate them into the formal waste management system. Some of the possible ways to do this are:

✔️ Providing them with training, equipment, and infrastructure to improve their efficiency, safety, and dignity. For example, providing them with gloves, masks, carts, bins, weighing scales, etc.

✔️ Organizing them into cooperatives, associations, or self-help groups to enhance their bargaining power, collective action, and access to resources. For example, forming groups such as Safai Sena, All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh, etc.

✔️ Linking them with municipal authorities, recyclers, and consumers to streamline the waste collection, segregation, and recycling processes For example, creating platforms such asKabadiwalaa, ScrapApp, etc.

✔️ Recognizing them as an integral part of the waste management system and granting them legal and social recognition, protection, and benefits. For example, issuing them identity cards, licenses, permits, etc.


Kabadi Wala is the unsung hero of waste management in India. They not only help in managing waste, but also in conserving the environment, creating value, and improving lives. They deserve our respect, appreciation, and support. Let us join hands with them and make India a cleaner and greener country.