Bindeshwar Pathak graduated in Sociology in 1964. He earned his master's degree in 1980 and his PhD in 1985, from the University of Patna. A prolific Writer and speaker, Pathak has authored several books, the most well-known of which is The Road to Freedom, and is a frequent participant in conferences on sanitation, health and social progress around the world.
He first came to understand the plight of scavengers in 1968 when he joined the Bhangi-Mukti (scavengers’ liberation) Cell of the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebrations Committee. During that time, he travelled throughout India, living with scavenger families as part of his Ph.D. research. Drawing on that experience, he resolved to take action, not only out of sympathy for the scavengers but also in the belief that scavenging is a dehumanising practice that would ultimately have a destructive impact on modern Indian society.
He established the Sulabh International Social Service Organization in 1970, combining technical innovation with humanitarian principles. The organization works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of Energy, waste management and social reforms through education. The organization counts 50,000 volunteers. He has made innovative use of biogas creation by linking Sulabh toilets to fermentation plants, he had designed over three decades ago and which are now becoming a byword for sanitation in developing countries all over the world. One of the distinctive feature of Pathak's project lies in the fact that besides producing odour-free bio-gas, it also releases clean water rich in phosphorus and other ingredients which are important constituents of organic manure. His sanitation movement ensures cleanliness and prevents greenhouse gas emission.
Bindeshwar Pathak is a Padma Bhushan recipient from the Government of India. In 2003, his name was added to the Global 500 Roll of Honour. Bindheshwar Pathak also received the Energy Globe Award, and the Dubai International Award for Best Practices. Stockholm Water Prize was awarded to him in year 2009. In June, 2013, he also received the Legend of Planet award from the French senate in Paris, ahead of World Environment Day. Antarrashtriya Bhojpuri Samman was awarded to him in the 4th world Bhojpuri Sammelan in Port Louis.
In January, 2011, Pathak was invited to deliver a lecture at The Cambridge Union, a debating society of the University of Cambridge in England. The lecture was well received by the students where Dr Pathak urged the students to join voluntary work in the field of sanitation.
In April 2016, Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City, declared 14 April 2016 as Bindeshwar Pathak Day.
He was named Indian Affairs Social Reformer Of The Year, 2017, at the 8th Annual India Leadership Conclave