History of SWACH

Formation of KKPKP :    In 1993, waste pickers and itinerant waste buyers in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad came together to form Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a membership-based trade union.

The union aimed to establish and assert waste pickers’ contribution to the environment, their status as workers and their crucial role in the Solid Waste Management (SWM) of the city. Today, KKPKP has 9000 plus members, 80 per cent of whom are women from socially backward and marginalised castes. Each member pays an annual fee to the organization and an equal amount towards their life insurance cover. Members are given I-cards that are endorsed by the PMC, and can avail of other benefits like interest-free loans and educational support for their children.

One of the most important contributions made by KKPKP, which helped make the case for granting waste pickers their rights and dues, was the quantification of waste pickers’ contribution to SWM (Case Study).  This study clearly established that the recovery operations carried out by waste pickers actually saved the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporations several crores of rupees in waste handling costs.

KKPKP further pushed for better working conditions for the waste pickers and for the protection of rights of waste pickers through representations to the government. Most importantly, KKPKP called for the integration of waste pickers in the waste collection/disposal system, at the point of waste generation itself – that is, giving them access to waste where it is generated, whether in homes, offices or businesses. All these demands are part of various government reports and documentation.

Formation of SWaCH : In 2000, the new MSW laws and rules were passed, which required segregation of waste, door to door waste collection, and waste processing instead of dumping. (MSW_rules_2000). There was also a push towards reducing containers on the street and making the city ‘container-free’, ostensibly in the name of more sanitary conditions and cleanliness.

KKPKP seized this opportunity to improve the working conditions of waste pickers. In 2005, KKPKP launched a pilot programme in collaboration with the PMC, where waste pickers were integrated in door-to-door waste collection (DTDC) work. This paved the way for the formal institution, SWaCH, a wholly-owned workers’ cooperative as a Pro-poor Public Private Partnership to undertake such work. The SWaCH DTDC model was based on recovery of user fees from service users and provision of infrastructure and management support from the municipality which was also to play an enabling role. 

SWaCH becomes operational : The pilot scheme implemented in collaboration with the Department of Adult Education, SNDT Women’s University, was operational in 2006/2008 and enabled 1500 waste pickers to become service providers for the door-to-door collection of waste from 1,25,000 households in Pune city.  

This considerably improved their conditions of work and upgraded their livelihoods, effectively bridging the gap between households and the municipal waste collection service. The initiative brought together two interests – the waste pickers’ interest in upgrading their livelihood and the municipality’s interest in sustainable SWM.

In 2008, the doorstep collection work got institutionalised under the aegis of SWaCH which was specifically registered for this purpose. With time, SWaCH diversified into verticals as well as extended its service delivery to another city.

Today, apart from SWaCH PMC, there is also SWaCH Plus. SWaCH Plus includes all the livelihood upgradation and income enhancement activities with respect to waste management, that go beyond door to door collection, such as V-Collect events where citizens can dispose of their unused household items/clothes; composting;  e-waste collecting and disposing through the correct channels;  making and selling ST Dispo bags; awareness raising events, etc.

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
  • SWaCH Goal
  • SWaCH Mission
  • SWaCH Vision

To become a successful, self-sustainable social enterprise of waste pickers aiming to improve their living conditions, along with focus on sustainable SWM.


To engage an entrepreneurial workforce of waste pickers into an efficient, responsive and accountable organisation and work in partnership with the municipal SWM system to transform the SWM situation in Pune.


SWaCH envisions a society that is socially just, economically equitable, culturally plural, politically democratic, environmentally sustainable, peaceful and humane.