Urban poor


More than 3,000 tonnes of solid waste is generated every day in the city of Kolkata, India. Dumping of this waste is polluting the groundwater and emitting large amounts of methane gas, which has 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide.

The South Asian Forum for Environment’s Resolve: Trash2Cash initiative is an innovative solution to the city’s solid waste problem. It is an independent community enterprise led by people who live in slums and are trained and paid to collect and recycle corporate and household waste in urban areas. So far, the initiative has trained more than 300 women to turn recycled paper into handicrafts.


  • 1
    Thanks to the Trash2Cash initiative, 1,000 kg of waste paper are collected and 2,000 kg of food waste are composted each month by people who live in Kolkata’s slum communities. They are trained and paid to collect and recycle this waste. This is reducing CO2-equivalent emissions by 520 metric tonnes each year.
  • 2
    Trash2Cash uses the recycled paper to create handicrafts, including the pen holder pictured on this office worker’s desk. Not only is this office purchasing handicraft products from the initiative, but it is one of the 18 corporate offices in Kolkata that are now recycling 90% of their waste.
  • 3
    Trash2Cash is creating sustainable jobs for the urban poor, particularly women and unemployed young people. Workers taking part in the program have seen their income increase 40-45% on average.

How it works

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