Campaign to salute ragpickers launched

New Delhi, Oct 1: A campaign to salute millions of ragpickers, who collect used up plastic bottles from the trash for recycling, was launched on Sunday by a non-profit organisation here. "Salam Hai" (salute), an effort to highlight the contribution of ragpickers in the recycling process of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles, started with a special video campaign, released on the social media PACE (PET Packaging Association for Clean Environment). "Today, ragpickers collect around 500,000 tonnes per year of post-consumer PET bottles for producing polyester fibre alone, earning around Rs 1,000 crore per year for themselves," a statement from PACE said.  Since PET bottles are the most widely recycled plastic bottles, it allows the ragpickers to sustain in their livelihood. The NGO said the campaign will have these "silent heroes" as its theme and will focus on "their contribution to the recycling industry".  "Ragpickers are the silent heroes who stand at the beginning of the recycling value and are inarguably the biggest contributors to PET recycling in India. "PET is 100 per cent recyclable and already the most recycled packaging material across the globe," P.C. Joshi, Secretary General, PACE, said in the statement.  PET is one of the most widely used plastics for packaging applications and is 100 per cent recyclable.  Discarded PET bottles are collected, sorted, cleaned, shredded, and made into washed flakes, which are then used to produce products like polyester fibre.  This fibre can be used for a variety of applications, like filling materials for cushions or pillows; or it can be converted into fabrics for use in clothing and upholstery.  In India, over 70 per cent of PET waste is recycled which aids livelihoods to millions employed in the entire value chain of recycling process.