The Optimist Citizen

A company using trash to empower Kabadi wallahs and to contribute to various social causes

Economic stability, occupational shaming, cleanliness and a sensitized society are some of the most important goals for any country and the efforts of an individual in achieving these goals go a long way. Paperman, a Chennai based company founded in 2010, believes in contributing for the successful achievement of these goals. In a span of six years, it has come up to become the new interface between household trash and the recycling industry and has brought up the concept of trash funding for an alternative monetary method.

How do they work?

Paperman has registered with them the kabadi wallahas of Chennai. When someone needs to dispose their weekly or monthly paper trash, they can call Paperman and within 3 hours, a kabadiwallah goes to their place to pick up the trash. Gradually, the startup has also started collecting plastic and metal trash. The households are then given the option to either keep the cash in exchange for the trash they sell to the kabadi wallahas or to donate the cash to Paperman. In turn, Paperman has partnered with about 20 NGOs and the cash, that the people donate, is sent to any NGO of their choice.

People volunteering for Paperman

The company also provides green, eco-friendly and waterproof bags, which have three compartments- one for newspapers and the other two for bits of papers and magazines or booklets. These bags can be brought from Paperman at a price of INR 200.

The website of Paperman keeps an account of the impact they have made to Chennai till date and as of December 2016, Paperman has recycled around 168948 Kgs of trash and saved 2816 trees in the process. To put things in perspective, India wastes about INR 20,000 crores due to thrown away trash annually. A country with a large number of third world problems could make good use of this amount of money and Paperman’s mission is to do the same in the longer term. Also till date, the company has collected and disseminated INR 20 lakhs for the NGOs and charities associated with them.

A high impact company which has the potential of doing even more good the society, the very vision of Paperman is to make kabadi wallah a respectful profession. Occupational shaming has deep roots and needs a joint effort by allstakeholders of the society for removing the stigma attached to it. Therefore, by next year, they aim to improve the financial status of the kabadi wallahas and eventually, they hope to achieve dignity for their profession. Although what is more impressive is that five years down the line the company aims to see female kabadi wallahas working. Aravind Kannan, Paperman’s Operations guy, when asked what he wants to share with the world had just one thing to say that he is looking forward to an assumption free society where a kabadi wallah gets the same respects as some IT guy and that people understand that ‘trash’ can indeed have the possibility to change the society. You can get in touch with paperman here.

This article was originally published in The Optimist Citizen – Issue 19 dated 16 FEB ’17.  Get exclusive early access to the stories, SUBSCRIBE NOW.

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