Women See Opportunities in Plastic Waste Recycling in Puducherry, India

“Revathy (the owner of Jeevan Polymers): I used to be an employee in a plastic recycling company, I saw the business opportunity and I started my own business. That was 5 years ago.”

Now there are 15 workers, of which 10 women, working at Jeevan Polymers. All surrounded by huge piles of white plastic waste. It is a small business in an industrial area of Puducherry (Pondicherry). For them, plastic waste is a white gold mine. They can earn money by recycling it into pellets, a raw material for the plastic manufacturing industry. There is a market for it and there is enough raw material. The only bottle neck is the lack of robust and modern equipment. The small organization only has one extruder line, which is in great need of renewal. Revathy would love to expand her business. To do so, her first priority is to invest in more modern equipment with a higher capacity.

This business is just one of hundreds active in Puducherry. And maybe even one of thousands in India. These are often informal businesses without proper licenses; small-scale; and making a small profit with cheap and robust machinery. This plastic recycling sector is ready for a remake! By supporting this sector with knowledge, innovations and access to finance, it is ready to grow and has the capacity to recycle more plastic. Now Jeevan Polymers is only recycling plastic waste coming from the industry but with our support they will also be able to recycle plastic waste coming from the households. The India Solid Waste Management Rules mandate that household waste needs to be segregated into wet, dry and domestic hazardous waste. The plastic waste coming from these segregation activities can be recycled by Jeevan Polymers in the future.

The entire waste sector in India is renewing itself. And now it is time to renew the plastic recycling sector too. WASTE is exploring to implement this under the FINILOOP (Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics) programme.

FINILOOP Approach: the Diamond Model
WASTE uses the Diamond Model, a multi-stakeholder approach, to build sustainable systems with local stakeholders that can last and will continue to grow after grants have ended. This can be achieved when the four key actors of the Diamond domains work towards the development of local plastic waste markets for the poor and inclusive scale of these markets. The result of our Diamond approach is that (local) government, households, entrepreneurs and financiers being organised in such a way that they are able to sustain a local plastic recycling value chain – from collection and sorting to recycling and marketing recycled products. This helps us to ensure that citizens, on the long term, can live in a clean and healthy environment.

For more information about this program contact Sophie van den Berg.