An estimated 1,800 scavengers are currently employed by recycling companies in the U.A.E. for collecting discarded cardboard boxes and soda cans from public waste dumps.
The collected cardboard is then recycled into new cartons and shipped to India and other parts of the Asian subcontinent so it can be used for packaging.
Covering anywhere between 15 to 25 km / 9 to 15 miles on his bicycle, a scavenger normally collects around 150kg - 330.7lbs of cardboard material everyday, earning just 11 fils - (4 cents) for every 1 kilogram/ 2.2 pounds of cardboard that is collected.
Even though a lot of these men hail from the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, I have come across many Bangladeshis and Nepalis as well.
Every afternoon the men would gather under metallic sheds (which they had set up themselves), taking turns in sipping tea from a single Styrofoam cup, even sharing a cigarette or two...
I often overhear them reminiscing about their life on the farm (a majority of these men were farmers), talking about their families and friends, and their dreams about seeing them again one day, as they lay down upon their cardboard mattresses; falling asleep in a matter of seconds.
Dubai - U.A.E.
What a year!
Stéphane, Ziaul, thank you so much for the suggestion. You guys ROCK!!!
And thanks a lot for the feature, Sebastian!