122 Tonnes by 2021: SZW, BCtA and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Launched at the United Nations in 2008, Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people at the base of the economic pyramid.

Over 220 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises in 70 countries have responded to BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water, sanitation, education, and other critical services.

BCtA member companies are market leaders that provide examples of successful, profitable and scalable models for reaching poor communities and contributing to global development.

SZW was extremely glad to receive membership to the BCtA late in 2018, and the following are the predefined SDGs we’re working towards :

SDG 1 : No Poverty

SDG 5 : Gender Equality

SDG 8 : Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG 10 : Reduced Inequalities

SDG 12 : Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 13 : Climate Action

While working towards these goals, Saahas Zero Waste has also committed to achieving the below two goals most pertinent to us.  

Before 2021, we aim to:

  • Divert 122 tonnes of solid waste per day from landfills
  • Provide employment & dignified livelihoods to approximately 800 people from lower socio-economic groups

Since its inception, SZW has always believed that our people are the driving force behind this journey to positively impact our planet. Today, we have 240 field staff from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. We aim to recognize their potential and encourage their personal development. We would like them to build careers, not just livelihoods. 

This means that each one of them is on our payroll, and receives all employee benefits as per Labour laws.

When Wilma began this enterprise back in 2000, Chinna Papa was our first employee.

18 years hence, she’s still with us and says she’s got no plans of changing that. She feels she is still improving, step by step. She has been able to get her son married because of her job and wants to save up more money to renovate her house.

Like Chinna Papa, all our employees have their own unique story of development and SZW is an amalgamation of all these.

While the informal waste management sector in India plays a critical role in the collection and bringing recyclables back into the value chain, workers have little or no access to minimum wages, social security benefits, personal protective equipment, and other safety, health and environmental practices.

To address this, SZW requires that all its partner industry actors must comply with minimum standards of health, safety, and environmental protection and ensure that no child labour is used in its operations.

In this way, our operations play a supportive role in formalising the waste management industry, including implementation of safety standards and compliance with the law, a reduction in the exploitation of vulnerable people, and contribution to the economy and state revenues.

All waste management activities such as collection, sorting, baling and composting are done by SZW employees, approximately 80 percent of whom are female low-income earners. In this way, we want to create dignified, sustainable and safe livelihoods for them.

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