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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December 07, 2010

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Excerpt from IPS article on waste pickers at COP 16

Recyclers Tout Benefits of Their Trade at Cancún Summit
By Emilio Godoy

Ezequiel Estay began collecting glass bottles in 1991 after losing his job with the Chilean media conglomerate Copesa. Now, years later, he heads Chile’s National Movement of Recyclers and is a leader of the Latin American Recyclers’ Network, which is questioning the climate benefits of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

“We are in the first part in the chain; we are the solution for waste management. First is to prevent garbage production, then come reduce and recycle, and, finally, disposal,” Estay told TerraViva.

The Chilean organisation is part of a global movement of solid waste collectors who separate out materials to supply the recycling industry with paper, plastic, glass and aluminium.

At the 16th Conference of Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), under way in the Mexican resort city of Cancún, the recyclers are voicing opposition to the CDM projects being implemented at garbage dumps to capture greenhouse-effect gases.

They are also calling for the creation of an international fund of immediate access for local communities engaged in recycling practices.

The goal of the CDM, established under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, is to offset greenhouse gas emissions in industrialised nations by allowing their governments and companies to invest in emission-reduction projects in developing countries.

The countries of the industrialised North thus obtain Certificates of Emissions Reduction (CERs) that can be counted in their favour as if they were in fact reducing their own national carbon emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol, in force since 2005, requires the industrialised nations that ratified it to reduce their emissions by 2012 an average of 5.2 percent below their 1990 emissions.

“There are no public policies that recognise the recyclers’ social and environmental contributions. The (CDM) initiatives tend to displace our work,” Silvio Ruiz, of Colombia’s National Association of Recyclers, told TerraViva.
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