With its more than 1.1 billion people, India is the world’s third largest economy. At the same time, the country faces a range of huge social and environmental challenges. We went to India to experience both the opportunities and the challenges and to promote the long-term value of sound ESG performances.
One of the things that surprised us was the organisation and success of small companies in the India’s slum districts. The micro businesses have an annual turnover of more than 650 million dollars, and recycling is responsible for a fair share of this money.
India is a country where very little gets wasted. But the sheer size of the population means even that little waste adds up to huge numbers. There is no garbage collection, as we know it. Instead the garbage is collected and recycled in other ways. This includes small traders who collect and sell the garbage and make a living this way.
The recycling industry creates revenue while at the same time doing a great job for the environment. The challenges that India is facing are enormous, but this is clearly a step in the right direction. What we want to do is to encourage improved working conditions and safety measures.
As investors we have the possibility to influence and accelerate the positive developments in India. We can make a difference. By investing in businesses that provide decent working conditions and have clear environmental and social policies. This way we can balance good financial returns with a good conscience. Because from a business point of view we can see that responsible investments are better investments in the long run.
What a waste
Every day, India generates 0.14 tonnes of garbage and only 83% of the garbage is collected. The metro cities and major economic hubs generate the maximum volume of waste, but a survey of 20 smaller cities selected to be developed as smart cities show that most are struggling to manage waste.
In Delhi alone, more than 300,000 so-called rag pickers spend their days sifting through piles of garbage.