The H&M Foundation, in collaboration with The/Nudge Institute, is delighted to announce the inclusion of two new partners in its groundbreaking Saamuhika Shakti initiative. This collective impact initiative aims to empower informal waste pickers in Bengaluru, India, with a specific focus on gender equality and equitable opportunities. The new partners, Stichting Enviu Nederland and Intellecap’s Circular Apparel Innovation Factory (CAIF), will bring their expertise and resources to further enhance the initiative’s impact.
India is a significant contributor to global textile waste generation, accounting for 8.5% of the total. Within the country, 51% of textile waste comes from domestic post-consumer collection, 42% from pre-consumer sources, and 7% from imported post-consumer waste. While innovations in textile waste management have emerged, waste pickers have yet to benefit from the economic value chain.
CAIF, one of the newly added partners, will spearhead the waste-entrepreneurship model by utilizing Bengaluru’s existing dry waste collection centers (DWCCs) as hyperlocal hubs for aggregating and segregating post-consumer textile waste. Collaborating with 6-7 waste entrepreneurs managing the DWCCs, CAIF will implement a circular textile waste model. This includes establishing textile waste sorting capacity at the centers and providing training to waste sorters and pickers on the proper handling of such waste. Their intervention will primarily focus on facilitating textile waste collection, sorting, and selling.
The second partner, Stichting Enviu Nederland, will contribute to the initiative by creating a circular business-to-business (B2B) textile service model, starting with the hotel industry. The project aims to recycle waste hotel linen and reintegrate it into the system as new towels, actively involving waste pickers in the process. By December 2023, Enviu plans to collect and divert approximately 30-35 tons of cotton waste, which will be sorted by waste workers, from landfills. Additionally, Enviu aims to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for waste workers in the hotels’ laundry, logistics, and warehousing services.
This new textile recycling setup is part of a broader, multi-year textile-recycling program across India. By incorporating a social perspective and ensuring the inclusion of waste pickers’ voices, the initiative seeks to address the challenges faced by this marginalized group. The larger program is also supported by seed funding from the IKEA Foundation.
Maria Bystedt, H&M Foundation’s strategy lead, emphasized the initiative’s goal of generating additional income streams through textile waste. By promoting inclusive circularity and improving livelihood opportunities for waste pickers, the Saamuhika Shakti initiative is set to make a lasting impact on the lives of these individuals.
The Saamuhika Shakti initiative serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and collective action. By combining the expertise of multiple organizations and addressing the systemic issues surrounding waste management, the initiative paves the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future for waste pickers in Bengaluru, India.