Past Events


Join SWaCH to do your bit for the environment this festive season ! Click here to know more

For the past seven years, SWaCH has been working to divert Nirmalaya away from the City's rivers during Ganpati Visarjan, and instead compost or reuse the offerings. Every year we save tons of compostable materials from being wasted and causing pollution - last year alone we diverted 97 tons of waste away from the city's rivers !

This year, we will be out collecting Nirmalaya on 4th and 8th September, from 3pm - 10 : 30 or 11.
Be sure to stop by the ghats and offer your Nirmalaya to our members!

"We are happy to be featured on Satyamev Jayate, the TV show hosted by Aamir Khan on Star Network. If you like our work and you think together we can do more, kindly make donations in the following name through wire transfer or cheque :-

Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat (Kashtkari Panchayat)
Bank A/c No:- 914010008173600
NEFT  IFSC Code:- UTIB0000104

For foreign contribution, we request you to kindly leave your details at "" and we will get back in touch with you relating to the process for accepting donations in accordance with the FCRA rules."
For those who missed the show, you can watch it here...

Pune’s Waste Pickers Reach a National Audience: SMJ Features SWaCH Coop

‘Satya Meva Jayate’, Amir Khan’s popular Sunday morning TV show touched base in Pune today when it featured Pune’s very own waste pickers’ cooperative SWaCH ,as one of the solutions to the problem of waste management in India. Saru Waghmare, a waste picker who was interviewed by the iconic host for the programme, described the experience as ‘a very enjoyable one...particularly since I could speak on behalf of all the waste pickers of Pune to a national audience.’

Sarutai spoke about the dignity and respect that SWaCH has brought to the lives of waste pickers who were previously treated ‘like stray dogs’ and shooed away. She also described the struggle that waste pickers face when some citizens make all sort of excuses for not paying the user fee of Rs 20. Lakshmi Narayan, who was also featured, brought up the issue of Extended Producer Responsibility with regard to sanitary pads and diapers and the steps that citizens can take to make the job easier for waste pickers – using ST Dispo bags or diaper labels.

SWaCH members, along with karyakartas, well-wishers and past and present staff, gathered at the cooperative’s office at Vaidya Stadium, Bhavani Peth to watch the show together on a large outdoor screen. Despite it being Holi, about 1000 waste pickers and their families turned up for the event.

The morning began with the presentation of scholarships by KKPKP President Mr Mohan Nanavare, to 12 girls who have completed schooling and gone on to higher education. Their parents were also felicitated. This is part of SWaCH and KKPKP’s  initiative ‘Shiksha Te Shikshan’ which encourages parents to educate their daughters at least till 10th standard and not get them married before the age of 18.
  College-going Kajal, daughter of a SWaCH member said: ‘Of course, we all want to get married but I appeal to all parents to let their daughters study as much as possible first, let them stand on their own feet and not be at anyone’s mercy…’ Another recipient of the scholarship said that she was ‘very, very proud’ of her parents who had sacrificed so much to let her study.

SWaCH Board Member Poornima Chikermane reminded the gathering that they had all taken a vow to put literacy in their daughters’ hands, and not a ‘taatli’ to beg with. She then pointed out that SWaCH being featured on Satya Meva Jayate was important not only for the publicity, but because it was a vehicle that they could ride on their road to equality. “Most waste pickers are dalits. And dalits have been pushed into only certain kinds of jobs. We have reached the threshold,” Poornima said, “Do we want to remain there or do we want to be allowed to enter society as equal members? Being featured on this programme will help in our struggle to create a casteless, classless society…”

On the occasion, labour leader Baba Adhav released the latest issue of the SWaCH newsletter which details the scenario between SWaCH and PMC at the end of the 5-year MoU. He appealed to all the waste pickers to get their children to read the issue to them at home, so that they understood what was being said and written on their behalf and about them. Baba Adhav also reminded the gathering of the obstacles that had been put in their paths when they had tried to implement some of the solutions featured on the show. Biogas, for example – SWaCH had repeatedly appealed to the corporation to set up biogas plants in every ward but to no avail.” Maybe now,” he said, “they will see that we were talking sense.”

Mr Ravi Pandit of Janwani congratulated all the waste pickers of SWaCH and KKPKP on the path-breaking work that they had done for the city. He expressed the hope that Janwani and SWaCH would continue to work more closely together.

The SMJ team also described their experiences with SWaCH as ‘inspiring’. Said Chandani Parekh, Head, Outreach who attended the screening with Pooja Das Sarkar, Senior Researcher and Writer:  “We were delighted to watch the episode with hundreds of waste pickers who put in immense hard work and face many struggles. It was a first such community screening experience for us. The Satyamev Jayate team is humbled to do its bit for organisations like KKPKP and SWaCH that have been working tirelessly all these years.”

Congratulations SWaCH!

In December 2013, it was announced that SWaCH won the First Prize in the Sitaram Rao Case-Study competition organised by ACCESS.  This competition has been designed to ‘identify emerging models and practices that have significantly contributed to the livelihoods of the poor in India.’

SWaCH has also been selected as a winner of the Citi Micro Enterprise Awards  (CMEA) 2013 in two categories of the ‘Best Community Micro Enterprise of the Year’ and ‘Best Urban Micro Enterprise of the Year’.

Of the 18 enterprises that made it to the final round, the jury felt that SWaCH Coop has been instrumental in helping disadvantaged communities attain social and economic empowerment.

  SWaCH regularly conducts events which are informative, fun and educational. These events are put up at schools, colleges, housing societies, offices and even hospitals and other public spaces. The events aim to make us aware of how we generate garbage, how much we generate and how we can reduce, recycle and reuse it, irrespective of where and how we live. They  also aim to create awareness about how important waste pickers are to the city and society, and point us towards ways in which we can help to improve the lives of waste pickers.
  SWaCH Tech Lab will be formally inaugurated at SWaCH Office Kothrud Kachra Depot in early January 2014. Details will be posted here shortly. This pilot project is a collaboration between SWaCH Coop and
ProtoPrint, a Pune-based social enterprise. The SWaCH Tech Lab aims at creating a group of micro-entrepreneurs. The initiative provides waste pickers with the ability to produce 3D printer filament from waste plastic using low-cost technology developed locally.

Watch here :
SWaCH Tech Lab at ‘ Inclusive Innovations 2013 ’

Date: 10th and 11th December 2013

Venue: Agriculture College Ground

"Swach Tech Lab will be showcased at an Expo -- Inclusive Innovations 2013 ( -- on 10th and 11th December at Agriculture College ground, behind University of Pune, Range Hills, Pune.

This pilot project is a collaboration between SWaCH Coop and  ProtoPrint, a Pune-based social enterprise. The SWaCH Tech Lab aims at creating a group of micro-entrepreneurs. The initiative provides waste pickers with the ability to produce 3D printer filament from waste plastic using low-cost technology developed locally. 
Watch here:

Rethinking E-waste

Click on poster to read

Date: 21st December 2013
: St. Mira’s College for Girls, Koregaon Road, Pune


Where does India rank in recycling of e-waste?
What materials go into manufacturing an ordinary cell phone? 
What happens to it once discarded?
What percentage of e-waste comes back for recycling –  and who handles it? 
India is one of the few countries in the world to have adopted a law for safe handling and disposal of e-waste, but what do we as citizens know about e-waste?
For a start, do we even know what exactly is E-waste?


SWaCH, in collaboration with GIZ, invites college students to explore these questions and more, at a one-day event ‘Rethinking E-waste’ that will be challenging, informative and lots of fun! Come and present your inspired ideas for how we can rethink e-waste and, in particular, spread awareness about e-waste disposal in ways that are outside traditional approaches.

Pinkathon International Women's 10K Run
  Pinkathon is a 10km run for women, which was held in 10 cities to spread awareness about women's health & fitness, especially breast cancer. Click here to read more
SWaCH launches labels for appropriate disposal of diapers!!

Each day waste pickers have to directly handle hundreds of soiled sanitary pads and diapers ( baby and adult). This is not only degrading, but is also a threat to their health. SWaCH has designed a S.T Dispo bag which is an identifiable newspaper bag for the appropriate disposal of soiled sanitary pads. However, there has been an urgent need to look into the appropriate disposal of soiled diapers as well. Click here to read more

SWaCH is part of the Joy of Giving Week 2013
Individuals or institutions can contribute towards SWaCH by setting up collection centres for old clothes, e-waste and newspapers on their premises. Click here to read more...

Call for volunteers


“Become a Visarjan Volunteer! Do your bit to save Pune’s Rivers!!”
Every Ganapati Visarjan, tonnes of paper, plastic, thermocol, flowers etc are all immersed into the city’s rivers in the form of ‘Nirmalya’. These offerings pollute our already stressed rivers. But YOU can make a difference this year! Click here to know more


Join in : V-Collect for the environment!
Reduce your carbon footprint this Environment Day (June 5 2013) ! Participate in the V-Collect Drives organised by SWaCH at various housing complexes and IT companies across Pune.

‘ Send It Back ’ campaign
After many unsuccessful months of trying to get manufacturers of sanitary towels (STs) to take some proactive steps towards the safe and eco-friendly disposal of used STs, as specified under the provisions of Extended Producer Responsibility, SWaCH finally launched the ‘Send It Back’ campaign on 8th March 2013. Boxes of used STs were packaged in huge sacks and sent back to the manufacturers! SWaCH has been emphasising that the companies should not leave the waste pickers and the corporation to shoulder the burden of this waste. SWaCH is also pressing for ST manufacturers to actively advocate the use of any identifiable bag (such as the ST Dispo bag), for the disposal of used STs so that waste pickers can avoid handling these during sorting.
  SWaCH members talk to the press about ‘Send It Back!’ with the gaily packaged sacks in the foreground.

Admission for children in private schools through RTE


KKPKP and SWaCH members were recently part of a film on the Right To Education. The film maker Anurata Tribhuvan interviewed several young waste picker parents who were seeking admission for their children in private schools, under the Act’s 25% reservation provision  for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.Watch the film here :


SWaCH Newsletter


SWaCH launches its first Newsletter!
We hope to bring you many such newsletters quarterly to inform you about what is happening in SWaCH. Download October 2011 Newsletter


Citizens Reach Out


ICS Colony/ Bhosale Nagar Mohalla Committee extend their support to wastepickers yet again!!

Working long hours out in the open is not easy feat, more so if you are a wastepicker . Apart from the daily struggle, wastepickers have to endure the daily discomfort of the lack of public toilets. They spend the entire day away from their homes without having any place to go relieve themselves. This is not only extremely uncomfortable but is very harmful to their health as well.

Realising this, the citizens of ICS Colony and Bhosale nagar have opened up their common toilets in their housing complex premises to waste pickers to use. SWaCH members in this locality can now freely use the toilets in any of the housing complexes.

SWaCH members would like to express their sincere gratitude to all the residents of ICS Colony and Bhosale Nagar for taking into consideration their health and hygiene.

Anand Park residents donate buckets to wastepickers!

Wastepickers in Anand Park, Aundh received brand new 80 litre capacity buckets from Anand Park Residents Association (APRA). SWaCH members for several months now had to use broken buckets to collect waste.
The waste would either leak out of the buckets on to the wastepickers or the wastepickers had to use only one bucket to collect waste. Taking cognizance of this fact, APRA donated 8 buckets to SWaCH members working in their locality!

This is another step in strengthening the SWaCH model of waste management where citizens are involved in and participate in managing their own waste!

Thank you APRA!



Nirmalya Collection and Recycling Project 2011


On 6th and 11th September 2011, 119 SWaCH wastepickers along with around 400 volunteers were stationed at 15 Visarjan Ghats in Pune city. As part of the Nirmalya Collection and Recycling project these wastepickers collected 23 Tonnes of Nirmalya (flowers, fruit, coconuts etc) and 3.5 Tonnes of dry waste (plastic, thermocol, paper) over two visarjan days.  In the 4th year of implementation, the Nirmalya Collection and Recycling project is jointly planned and implemented by SWaCH and eCoexist. This year several corporates like Cummins, Emcure and Praj have sponsored this project at 15 Ghats.



Mobile Recycling Unit


KKPKP has purchased a new vehicle, this vehicle or Mobile Recycling Unit will be used to collect  waste that has little or no resale value. The percentage of  this kind of waste has been increasing at an alarming rate keeping up with changing consumer and packaging trends .This waste consists of metalized plastic ( wafer, biscuit packets), plastic bags that are below 10-20 micron ( locally known as Mein), rags, flex banners, tetrapak etc. Generally this type of waste is directed towards garbage containers as it has low value in the recycling market or the technology to recycle it does not exist.  KKPKP-SWaCH is partnering with certain companies to explore the options available to process this waste.

For KKPKP-SWaCH purchasing a vehicle is another step towards an improvement in the conditions of work for waste pickers. It also symbolises the breaking away from stereotypes that generally waste pickers are associated with-- waste pickers even today are labelled as thieves, vagrants and scavengers. Confident young girls at the wheel like Rukmini and Anita would definitely help change these stereotypes. This vehicle was inaugurated in the presence of over 200 SWaCH and KKPKP members and Shri Abhay Chajjed (Pune City Congress President), Sanjay Gawde  (PMC Solid Waste Management Department), Mahadev Gaikwad ( Ward Officer, Bhawani Peth), Dr. Mahadev Gaikwad ( Ward Medical Officer, Bhawani Peth) and Dr. Dinesh Bhende ( Ward Medical Officer, Dhole Patil Road), Mohan Nanavre ( President, KKPKP).

Around 51 women from SWaCH ( PMC and PCMC) have been trained to drive tempos under this  initiative.  Rukmini and Anita Phadke daughters of Usha Dasu Phadke ( KKPKP-SWaCH member) were part of this training.  “ KKPKP-SWaCH is like our family, so we feel proud to work with SWaCH and interact with SWaCH members who are like our mothers and sisters”, said Rukmini.

  Left : Rukmini and Anita with their mother Usha Phadke

Paintings of Wastepickers


SWaCH has several case studies, reports and documents that trace the change in conditions of work of waste pickers subsequent to the formation of SWaCH. But in order to reach out to a wider audience,and communicate the true value of the work of wastepickers not only in sustaining their own family but also in mitigating climate change and  reducing  municipal Solid Waste Management costs, this time round SWaCH decided to do things a little differently. 

Shirin Rehman, an artist from Singapore, volunteered for over two months with SWaCH. Shirin was touring India and living with indigenous communities to experience firsthand their battles against poverty. SWaCH took the opportunity and invited her to depict the lives and work of waste pickers.In order to do justice to her subject, Shirin lived with waste pickers in various slums in Pune. She not only experienced their life first hand but also got the opportunity to document it through a medium that we have never used before – paintings.

Through 11 paintings, Shirin has depicted the conditions of work of waste pickers, their daily routine as well as the change in conditions of work after the formation of SWaCH.

  Landfill ScavengingPortrait of WastepickerSwach PaintingKothi MeetingsLeadershipInformal to formal Sorting Swach+ Scrap Shop Long Road Ahed

Recycling Centers


Over the past few months, we at SWaCH have been in the process of devising new strategies to create a healthier citizen – waste picker interface. Part of this initiative has been to reduce visual discomfort caused to citizens due the waste pickers sorting waste on the sides of roads. These recycling centres have been erected as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Non Biodegradable Garbage Control Ordinance 2006 Article 348, Clause (3).

There is a dearth of designated spaces in Pune city where waste pickers can sit and sort dry waste. Due to this, it is common sight to see waste pickers sitting at the side of the road or beside garbage containers sorting waste. These recycling centres or sorting sheds provide a space for waste pickers where they are sheltered from the harsh sun as well as the rain, they can sort dry waste without causing any visual discomfort to citizens. SWaCH has put up four such recycling centres in Pune City, one in Ghole Road ward and three in Bibwewadi ward. Sorting screens have been provided to waste pickers where it is not possible to erect any structure. These screens are foldable and light weight so that they can be carried easily. For any decentralised waste management model to be successful, the demarcation of such spaces is a must. Participation of the local community as well as the community taking ownership of their own waste will go a long way in ensuring that we create a sustainable and inclusive model for decentralised waste management in Pune city.

Zero Waste in Katraj



In a bid to provide a comprehensive solution to the waste problem, several agencies have joined hands to create a model zero waste Electoral Ward in Pune city. The Electoral Ward, Katraj, is one of the largest ones with nearly 12000 properties. The idea is to create a model to show how each and every item and material comprising waste can be recycled or disposed in the best possible manner – a model that can be replicated throughout the city eventually.

Further, the project also aims to tackle the problems of inequity and poverty through engagement of waste pickers and ensuring they get dignity of labour and sustainable incomes. Thus, it intends to create a zero waste model which is different from the centralized capital intensive model proposed by many corporate entities working on waste management.


The project, now in its fifth month, has had to face several challenges and got many successes. Stopping citizens from open dumping, burning or throwing mixed waste in Municipal Containers, ensuring source segregation and convincing them to pay waste pickers for collecting their waste, have been one of the biggest challenges. Bringing about co-ordination between the primary collection (done by SWaCH waste pickers) and the secondary collection (controlled by the PMC) has been a major challenge as well. Lack of spaces for sorting and storing waste is another problem which inhibits greater waste retrieval.

However, sustained and tireless efforts from all the partners have yielded great results. There are currently 43
SWaCH members collecting waste from 7900 units (or nearly 80%) of the 10,500 establishments within Katraj. Waste pickers currently segregate nearly 4 tonnes of pure wet waste per day and give to the feeder systems. After months of pressure, a 5 tonne biogas plant is finally in operation in the area which will eventually take all the wet waste generated and collected in the area and make biogas out of it. Waste pickers also segregate all the low grade plastic (which is generally not recycled) and give it for recycling where boards are made out of it.

In the Gaothan area, where majority of the citizens belong to low income groups, the project had to face especially tough resistance.

The low income status of households, their political importance, the presence of several municipal containers and insensitivity towards the local environment made it extremely hard to expand waste picker coverage in the area. However, after months of effort and the dedicated support of the local corporator, Mr. Vasant More, SWaCH waste pickers now cover nearly 100% households in the area.
Over the months, the project area has been a ground for several experiments and technical and operational
innovations. Some of them have failed while others have been successful. The process, however, has taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t and given us infinitely valuable lessons for the future. The most important lesson, however, has been that waste pickers are an indispensable part of any effort at achieving a zero waste society. They are the only ones who can actually get citizens to segregate their waste and even when the citizens don’t segregate, they are the only ones who can actually provide pure segregated wet and dry waste which is essential for its recycling The project is in the process of getting an ISO certification soon so that the model is easily replicable.

Awareness Generation


Over the past month SWaCH has been conducting segregation drives in several localities in Aundh Ward. These drives have been done with the support of student volunteers of Fergusson College, Pune and Aundh Vikas Mandal (AVM). The primary objective of conducting these drives was to encourage people to segregate their waste into wet and dry waste. Segregation of Waste is mandated by law [Maharashtra Non Biodegradable Garbage Control Ordinance 2006 Article 348, Clause (3)]. It is the duty of each citizen to segregate their waste in to wet and dry waste. Volunteers along with SWaCH staff visited households in the below areas. Through the medium of leaflets and a circular issued by the Aundh Ward office, citizens were informed about the importance of segregating their household waste. The segregation drives were conducted in the following areas: a. Anand Park b. Green Park c. Ashiyana Society d. National Society e. National Chemical Laboratories campus Similar drives are being planned and conducted in other parts of Pune. To be part of such drives contact us.

Keep informed about current issues, campaigns and events through the SWaCH Newsletter. Contact us here to subscribe   
Events & Campaigns
  Come and present your inspired ideas for how we can rethink e-waste and, in particular, spread awareness about e-waste disposal in ways that are outside traditional approaches.    
SWaCH in the News
  The Times of India
( Pune ) Sep 15, 2016
  Indian Express
September 12, 2016
  Indian Express
September 12, 2016
  The Times of India (Pune)
Sep 13 2016
  MaharashtraTimes (Pune)
Sep 12 2016
  Sakal Times
10 / 09 / 2016

NGOs pitch in for management of waste during Ganesh idol immersion
  The Goldensparrow
05 Aug, 2016
  Waste-pickers get no protection from the rain  
  Maharashtra Times
Aug 7, 2016
  The Times of India
Sept 29, 2015
  Over 500 tonnes of nirmalya collected in 10-day festival  
Sept 29, 2015
  42 Thousand kg nirmalya collected by Swach  
Sept 28, 2015
  Classification of nirmalya by Swach  
Sept 25, 2015
  7th day of ganpati visarjan 17 Thousand kg nirmalya collected  
Sept 24, 2015
  7th day of visarjan 16 Thousand kg. nirmalya Collected  
Sept 19, 2015
  Swach ready for nirmalya collection.  
Sept 18, 2015
  Nirmalya collection of initiative to swach  
  Maharashtra Times
Sept 04, 2015
  Nirmalya project call for volunteers  
  I am dna of Pune
Sept 04, 2015
  Be a swach volunteer, help collect nirmalya during Ganesh visarjan  
  The Times of India
Sept 03, 2015
  Ganeshotsav `nirmalya' target higher  
  Sakal Times
July 25, 2015
  The PMC to finally set up garbage shed on Baner Road  
  Sakal Times
August 15, 2015
  The Fees hiked for trash collection  
  The Indian Express
August 14, 2015
  The SWACH is the first co-operative of wastepickers in the country  
  The New York Times
JULY 29, 2015
  Scavengers Are India's Real Recyclers  
  From A Ragpicker To An International Labour Speaker, Here's Suman More's Inspiring Journey!  
  Loksatta 29.04.2015  
  Times of India 29.03.15
With industries privatizing waste collection through contractors and companies, waste pickers in the city have said that access to recyclables was ...
  The Indian Express 6.11.14
Swach gets parliamentary committee's thumbs-up
  The Indian Express 31.10.14
Waste-picker from city attends international convention, meets Pope Francis
  Sakal Times 07.11.14
Meeting Pope was memorable : Waste picker Rebecca
  Times News Network
Waste collector from city meets Pope Francis
  DNA 5.11.14
From rags to recognition : A waste picker's struggle for basic rights
  DNA 3.11.14
For ragpickers, Pope is their hope
  Surfing their way into the mainstream  
  Midday 17.10.14
They plan to beat music out of junk
  Loksatta 02.09.14
Remember to give your Nirmalya to Swach members
  TOI 20.08.14
Change mindsets to change cities say wastepickers
  The Indian Express 13.08.14  
  Waste pickers demanding pre-matric scholarship for their kids end strike  
  TOI 09.08.14  
  Pune Municipal Corporation not providing gear: SWaCH  
  TOI 06.05.14  
  SWaCH to scale up e-waste collection  
  HINDU Survey of Environment 2013
Picking a brighter future
  Midday 26.06.13
NGOs tie up with schools for environmental awareness
  IE 12.07.13
Green school programme launched to spread awareness among school children
  N Y Times blog
Out of India's Trash heaps, more than a shred of dignity
  HT 06.07.13
South Civic body eyes Pune Model for garbage solution
  TOI 06.07.13
Ragpickers resolve sanitation dilemma
  Newspaper Archives