How E-RUPI could facilitate recycling of plastic and improve waste management

The environment minister has stated that India will, in another couple of decades, generate nearly thrice the waste it currently does--“165 million tonnes by 2030 and 450 million tonnes by 2050”. Only 22-28% of the waste now collected is processed or treated.

Given that waste collection is an informal sector, it is hard to quantify how much waste is collected in this manner. Rough indicators are: 75-80% of the waste generated in India is collected by municipal bodies, more than 90% of India do not have a proper waste disposal system.

Current scenario

  • In order to collect waste, the municipality places dustbins according to the size of the population in a given area.
  • It is assumed that the people in the location will drop the generated waste in the bin.
  • After that, it is the responsibility of the municipality to collect it from there (the transfer station) and treat it at the collection center/recycling center.
Gaps present

As it’s not the responsibility of the municipality to pick up the garbage from the source/households of the individual. That’s why the informal sector has filled this gap where the waste collectors and waste workers collect waste from households.

How E-RUPI can be implemented in streamlining the waste collection and giving an incentive to waste workers:

Key points to be considered to issue an E-RUPI:
  • Benchmarking the minimum weight on which an E-RUPI voucher or points will be issued
  • Material collected like Plastic Bottles, Plastic bags, etc. can have separate points which the waste collectors can accumulate
  • E-RUPI vouchers can be either used in shops to purchase food, medicines, or pay for hospital bills
Chart of issuing the voucher/ points 
   Material   Weight    Points Issued
  Plastic Bottles   1 gm   1 point
  Plastic Bags   2 gm   1 point

How to use E-RUPI

The waste collector on submitting the waste material would give their phone number against the material submitted. The waste collector will use the waste collector’s phone number to issue an E-RUPI voucher to the person. The waste collector will then receive an E-RUPI voucher in the form of an SMS. The waste collectors can now use the same SMS in any shop or store.

For Example, the waste collector submits 1kg of plastic bottles where 500gm is the minimum benchmark to issue the E-RUPI. The collector then gets a credit of 1000 points in their E-RUPI account against their phone number. The waste worker will now use the E-RUPI to buy a food item for 500 points. They can save the rest for another time or completely use all the points in one go. In case the person has certain points left, the next time they submit the waste, new points will get added in the same and can be used later for another purchase.

Use case 1

Using E-RUPI to give incentive to waste collectors. Vouchers are issued by scrap collectors or an organization like a soft drink manufacturer to the waste collector.

  • Waste collectors and waste workers pick up the garbage from the households, dustbins, roads, etc. and segregate it
  • Waste collectors take the waste to a scrap dealer/ recycler or a brand’s pickup center
  • The scrap dealer or the organization then issues E-RUPI based on the material and weight
  • E-RUPI vouchers/ points are issued which can be later used to purchase food or cash out as per the requirement



Process Flow:

Waste collector brings the segregated waste to pick-up points —> It’s collected there based on the individual material and weights —> The E-RUPI points are issued against the waste collector’s phone number —> Waste collectors later use the E-RUPI points in the shop to purchase as per their needs or they can cash out the points.

Background Flow:

Each time an E-RUPI points are issued to an individual they enter the material type, weight, phone number of the waste collectors —> The E-RUPI ID (phone number) is saved with details in a blockchain —> End-to-end transparency on the amount of garbage collected and points issued —> Recycled waste has traceability and transparency on how much waste from the collection was disposed and where the waste was disposed/ recycled.



  • Formal system to incentivize individuals
  • Transparency regarding waste collection and record maintenance
  • End to end tracking and traceability
  • Tamper proof data with blockchain in the background
  • A unique voucher based system using E-RUPI
  • Doesn’t require a smartphone and can be used on a basic phone
  • Only a phone number is required by the beneficiary
  • No bank account required
  • Less/ No intermediaries
  • Two ways to avail the voucher- SMS and QR code



Rag picking is informally done by waste workers. It is an informal sector and no system is in place by the government.

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