From picking rags to the riches of waste management: this is I Got Garbage

In this exclusive interview the I Got Garbage team explains how waste or “rag” pickers are moving away from Bengaluru’s landfills and managing India’s waste.

India generates 175 million kilos of garbage every day. 95% of this ends up in landfills, where waste pickers sort through it to earn a living. I Got Garbage offers dignified work to the Indian city of Bengaluru’s 20,000 rag-pickers whilst improving the shoddy state of waste management. It provides technological tools for the waste pickers to offer city residents waste management services, such as recycling, even before garbage reaches the landfill.

Subroto Bagchi, chairman of Mindtree, a technology services company, hosted a one-day garbage trail in 2009. It started from people’s homes, where the garbage originated, ending up in a massive landfill in Bengaluru. The initiative revealed the high volumes of waste dumped every day, as well as the dire conditions rag-pickers face in making a living by sifting through these heaps, and how little garbage gets recycled.


Prashant Mehra, the Associate Vice President of Mindtree, spent a year in rural India. Having returned with the desire to have a positive impact on society, he met Subroto in 2013 and they began work on the Mindtree initiative, I Got Garbage.




The project’s team explains:


“I Got Garbage will take the rag-picker community away from the landfills, help them earn a steady and dignified livelihood with opportunities at various levels across the waste value chain, and therefore help them integrate into mainstream economy.”

Some, like Mansoor, even make it to become recycling managers.




“We stepped forward to achieve the desired impact by empowering social enterprises that offer waste management services and creating awareness through community involvement and volunteerism. We use the power of IT to add predictability and structure to the work of the informal sector consisting of rag-pickers, scrap dealers and social businesses.”

The IT tools include a cloud-based platform that forms the backbone for all web and mobile applications used by I Got Garbage’s partners.


Hasirudala, one of our partners, is a federation of 10 Bengaluru based NGOs striving towards the rehabilitation of 7,000 rag-pickers. Today, we work with 7 such partners, who offer a wide range of services around waste management such as collection and transportation of waste from households, recycling centre operations, composting solutions and more.”


The result is that Mindtree’s IT services help rag-pickers offer waste management services by organising themselves into franchises, which also improves their access to social security. I Got Garbage hosts an online marketplace where waste generators, such as households, apartments and offices, can buy such services from rag-picker franchises, thus engaging citizens too in solving the waste problem.




I Got Garbage bridges the gap between waste pickers and citizens, achieving the goals of dignified livelihoods for rag-pickers and fewer landfills for all.

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