Recycling and incineration in Delhi:
an impossible coexistence
Federico Demaria and Mariel Vilella
Waste pickers survive by collecting waste and helping combat climate change; however, political and economic interests threaten their way of life and propose solutions whose environmental effects are worse.
Even if it is not your first visit to the city, your first step outside Delhi airport takes your breath away. The intense reality touches all your senses: tropical heat and humidity, smells combining spices and pollution, the roar of traffic with thousands of car horns, bright colours and strong contrasts. As usual, there is nobody there to meet us, but this time we would like to think that there is someone waiting for us incognito. Almost invisible to the eyes of locals and foreigners, a barefoot woman dressed in rags bends over a sack, holding it with one hand while she picks up what others have discarded from the ground, mostly paper and plastic. She isn’t aware of it and has other things to worry about, but this time we have come to support her fight and that of thousands of other waste pickers in Delhi.