In the north west corner of Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, lies the 13th Compound. A little old place where inhabitants and entrepreneurs get together and do more then just live in squalor, they recycle it.

Taking advantage of it's prime location in the heart of Mumbai, the recycling industry in the 13th Compound has grown substantially in capacity over the past twenty years more than tripling the number of active businesses in the neighbourhood. Today the Compound accounts for roughly forty percent of Mumbai's total recycling and eats its way though thousands of kilograms of waste everyday.

Processing everything, cotton scrap, metal, tins, paper, glass bottles, plastic bottles, cardboard, industrial dyes and plastic drums, the way in which the businesses in the 13th Compound go about recycling is not always environmentally friendly or particularly healthy for the labourers. Plastics are melted down releasing carcinogenic gases, little to no protective gear is given to labours working with toxic martial, and inadequate drainage systems allow the leaching of dangerous materials into the environment. From a western perspective it can be difficult to see beyond such glaring inadequacies but on the hole the Compound and recycling industry in general are a major source of employment in the slums and step in the right direction in reducing the  waste generated by a industrial city the size of Mumbai. It's not easy being green, but with awareness and support conditions in the world's dirtiest recycling plant can only get better.

A young man helps guide a junk truck making a delivery through the narrow streets.


Two junk trucks, one empty and the other full, pass each other in the 13th Compound.


Two labours wash recently shredded plastic.


A paper merchant waits for a client to finish on the phone to conduct some business in his cluttered office.


Labours and residents move through the back alleys of the 13th Compound.


An assembly line of low wage labours sort through plastics before they are shredded.


Back streets in Dharavi's 13th Compound are often so tight, junk must be delivered to the recycling shops by hand.


Three men work together to brake down and shred plastic containers.


Taking a brake from sifting through drying plastic on the roof, a boy watches a delivery truck make its way down the street below.

A man walks by a wall stacked with paper waiting to be recycled.


A young man sorts through plastic odds and ends.


A bag overflowing with plastic bottles, one of many bags brought to the 13th Compound everyday.


Delivery trucks drive along the outskirts of the 13th compound.


A young man uses his feet to sift through and turn over shards of drying plastic.


A labourer sorts through stalks of cardboard separating the good pieces from the unusable ones.


A young boy covered in dye after working for hours.


Barrels and bags of junk wait to be recycled.


A ply-board made of melted down shards of plastic is one of the many final products of the work done in Dharavi's 13th Compound.


A man walks through the cluttered back streets of the 13th Compound.


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