The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Country France

February 26, 2013

Les biffins selling their reclaimed materials at the Marche aux Puces (Street Market) in Paris.

Les biffins selling their reclaimed materials at the Marche aux Puces (Street Market) in Paris. Credit: Associacion Amelior.

The profession of biffins (“waste picker” in french) has been recognized since 1240, and the right to recover materials since 1670. The biffins are skilled in collecting, repairing and upgrading objects and devices, with ancient expertise in sorting and selling. The “Flea market” is a meeting place for the sale of recovered materials by the biffins, who have enjoy official status since 1910. This activity has a long history, and it is also a profession with a long tradition, often transmitted “from father to son.” The job of biffins seems, a priori, legal and legitimate. However, this activity does not enjoy the recognition is due today, and is even subject to genuine judicial and police repression.

This is why the association Amelior has been in existence since August 2012. It was born as a mixed constituency of biffins and citizens of Paris that are in solidarity with their cause: in social recognition, eradication of economic poverty and police repression to which they are subject. Amelior is one of three associations like this in the city. There is also the association “Sauve qui peut” created in 2009, and the biffins collective support of Montmartre.


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  3. Good Job Transition Network! Keep it up

    Comment by Eliott — November 12, 2013 @ 4:00 am