The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
Supported by Logo WIEGO

Hello everyone,

The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers is happy to share with you its first global newsletter.  We hope that it can be one more way to connect waste pickers across continents with the issues that affect them globally and locally as well as report back to all of you on the different activities we have participated in as well as the many events to come. The newsletter has been translated into four languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French and English). We hope to make it available in other languages as waste pickers are becoming organized in many other parts of the world.

This first newsletter features two parts: A look back at the Global Alliance’s activities in 2011 and a look forward to ongoing events happening this year. The next newsletter will be published on a quarterly basis. We look forward to your help spreading the word.

Feel free to send the subscription link to others or visit the newsletter archive. For all other information, visit

In solidarity,

Deia, Demetria, Exequiel, Lucia & Pablo
Global Alliance Communication Team

In this Newsletter
1. Meetings and events
2. News & Initiatives – 2011 Highlights
3. Publications
4. 2012 ongoing events


Interim Steering Committee of Waste Pickers

March 2-4, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand

bangkok steering committee table photo

Harouna, waste picker from Senegal, in front and Interim Steering Committee members

Following a workshop on membership-based oganizations (MBOs) organized by WIEGO, waste picker representatives from the Latin American Network (Brazil and Chile), the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, as well as representatives from Africa (Senegal, South Africa and Kenya), and Asia (India and Cambodia) participated in a two-day meeting where the Global Alliance planned its program for the year. That included participation in COP17 in Durban as part of climate change strategy and a strong alliance with GAIA. It also included a compilation on recycling policies around the world, a communication strategy for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers (including its website) a global strategic workshop, among other activities to be developed in each region. For more information, contact:

Waste & Citizenship Festival/Déchets et citoyenneté

May 20-25, 2011
Paris, France

Viviane, MNCR, Paris

Vivianne and Madalena from RedLACRE

A global delegation of waste pickers participated in the second edition of this festival. Waste pickers from SWaCH cooperative in Pune, India, shared their organizing experiences with local biffins (waste pickers in Paris) and women waste pickers from the Latin American Network (Colombia, Chile and Brazil). In a public meeting , the waste pickers called for respect and to be included in waste management systems, as well as an end to the incineration of recyclable materials. Visit the Déchets et citoyenneté website here. (Organized by France Liberté Foundation, Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde (ENDA), and the municipal government. Supported by WIEGO, France Liberté, and other local partners)

Dumpsite Workers’ Workshop

June 1-3, 2011
Mumbai, India

waste pickers in Mumbai, India, Dumpsite Workers

Waste pickers from Indian dumpsites with Mapula from South Africa and Jyoti Mhapsekar

Waste pickers who work at dumpsites and landfills all around India came together to discuss their working conditions and the threats they currently face in their own cities. It was the first workshop designed specifically for dumpsite and landfill workers. One waste picker from Dakar, Senegal, and one from South Africa, accompanied by the international coordinator of the Global Alliance, attended. The waste pickers shared their experiences and discussed the problems they face in their cities, including the closure of dumps where they make their living and the threats they face when waste final disposal processes get privatized.

For more information contact:

International Solid Waste Management Association (ISWA) Workshop on Informal Sector

June 20-23, 2011
Buenos Aires, Argentina

ISWA meeting, Buenos Aires

Sergio and Cristina, waste pickers from Buenos Aires, with Lucia and ISWA participants of a small seminar

For the first time in 40 years, the International Solid Waste Management Association organized an event focusing on the integration of the informal sector into the solid waste management system. Waste pickers from Argentina and the international coordinator for the Global Alliance participated in the event, providing input, sharing experiences and making the audience aware of how waste pickers’ livelihoods are threatened sometimes even by decisions made by the Solid Waste Management Association. See Lucia Fernandez’ PDF presentation and the event website.

Waste and Climate Change Workshop

September 7-8, 2011
Johannesburg, South Africa

climate change workshop

Om Prakash with South African delegates.

Fifty-three waste pickers from eight provinces in South Africa, members of the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers and waste pickers from Kenya, Senegal, and Latin America came together to discuss strategies as they prepared for COP17, the UN Climate Change Conference held in Durban in December 2011. Waste pickers learned about key concepts such as climate change and greenhouse gases. They learned about the environmental impact of recycling vs. ‘waste to energy,’ incineration, landfill gas extraction, and privatization. They discussed the impact of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects on the ground. They also learned about the ins and outs of the national waste policy and how to discuss these concepts with their local governments. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives facilitated workshops together with the support of the WIEGO African coordinator.

Clinton Global Initiative – Informal Recycling Sector Meeting

September 19-21, 2011
New York City, United States

panel, global clinton initiative

Nohra, waste picker from ARB, together with Christie from GAIA and Lucia from WIEGO sharing a table with Columbia University, the Clinton Initiative and the World Bank

As part of one of the Clinton Global Initiative commitments, the informal sector presented at an event held at the Harvard Club in New York City. The aim was for waste pickers to get their voices heard among important players which are not necessarily aware of their demands. Colombian waste picker and leader Nohra Padilla presented, “Organizacion de los Recicladores, Una Alternativa Social, Tecnica, Economica y Ambiental Reconocido en un Sistema Organizado, Para el Manejo Integral de los Residuos Solidos.” Allies from GAIA and WIEGO presented in the plenary session. Lucia Fernandez, presented “Moving Towards Waste Pickers’ Inclusion and Decentralization of Solid Waste Management, A Re-thinking Approach for Closing Landfills.

COP17 – U.N. Climate Change Conference

Nov. 28 – Dec. 9, 2011
Durban, South Africa

global day of action group

The Global Alliance, ready to march for climate justice at the Global Day of Action.

COP17 was especially important for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers. Because the climate conference was held in Durban, South Africa, a huge number of members of the newly formed South African Waste Pickers’ Association were able to attend and make their demands heard in their own country. The 60 or so South African waste pickers were also able to hold meetings and network amongst each other, strengthening their relationships and their association. In addition to the strong presence of South African representatives, waste pickers from associations in Costa Rica, Brazil, India, and Senegal participated in the conference as well as the side events, and engaged in solidarity meetings with the South Africans.

interview during global day of action

A journalist interviews Nimrod of SAWPA during the Global Day of Action.

One of the highlights of attending the conference was the Global Day of Action March on Dec.3. The South African Waste Pickers’ Association was there in full force, along with waste pickers from around the world — all marching and singing South African struggle songs together, demanding climate justice.

On Dec. 5, the Global Alliance held a protest inside of the conference headquarters, making their demands visible and generating a lot of media attention. Waste pickers were featured in dozens of media outlets, including The Mercury, Democracy Now!, IPS, Sowetan Live, and The Citizen. They also spoke to a BBC reporter on the United Nation’s Climate Change Studio.

dudu says no to incineration

Anti-incinerator Dudú, wastepicker from MNCR/RedLacre

On Dec. 5, the Global Alliance held a press conference inside the conference headquarters. They called for a Green Climate Fund with direct community access and an end to CDM “waste-to-energy” projects. Representatives from three continents highlighted the fact that waste pickers are the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the waste sector. They spoke against disposal technologies that undermine their livelihoods, such as incinerators and waste-to-energy projects. See press release.

These are just a few highlights of COP17 activities. For the full report, videos and slideshows, visit See GAIA’s report on COP17.

(Organized and supported by GAIA, WIEGO, and groundWORK)

South African Waste Pickers’ Meeting during COP17

Dec. 1, 2011
Durban, South Africa

sawpa strategy sessions

Waste pickers from all over South Africa met in small groups during the SAWPA meeting.

South African waste pickers met during COP17 in a closed meeting to discuss the constitution of the South African Waste Pickers’ Association and the Code of Conduct for waste pickers on landfill sites and in streets. The South African Waste Pickers’ Association was launched in February 2010 and it has drawn up draft principles of the organization. Members continued to discuss this draft in the December meeting.
(Organized and supported by groundWORK, GAIA, and WIEGO)

General meeting during COP17

Dec. 2, 2011
Durban, South Africa

cop 17 waste pickers' meeting

Waste pickers with the Global Alliance share experiences with South African waste pickers.

On December 2, the meeting opened up to include delegates from waste pickers across the globe. Waste pickers from Costa Rica, Brazil, India and Senegal were present. Delegates exchanged ideas and learned from each other as they joined in solidarity.


LAW Global Project Pilot

As part of the global program defined in the Steering Committee Meeting in March, we are implementing a pilot project that compiles legislation in several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that tackles solid waste management systems and the inclusion of waste pickers. The final results of the project, to be available in the coming months, will include a comparative analytic matrix. Check for updates.

Communication Strategy for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers

At a steering committee meeting held in Bangkok last March, the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers decided that in order to really do justice to the global movement of waste pickers, it would need its own communications strategy, independent of that which their allies have been providing. So in October, a communications officer and a web designer began working for the Global Alliance. So far, the communications and web team has helped cover major events such as COP17. The current pre-website – – will be expanded in the next months to become a real website with many features and a wealth of information. It will also be much more accessible to waste pickers and organizations who want to contribute and connect with waste pickers across the globe. Find us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @global_rec.

Legal Victory in Colombia

December 19, 2011

For almost a year, the Colombian waste pickers were fighting a $1.7 billion dollars public bid that would have taken the role of recycling from the recyclers and handed it over to private companies for a ten-year period.

On December 19, 2011, the court canceled the public bidding process. Justice Juan Carlos Henao said that the constitutional rights of waste pickers had not been respected. Silvio Ruiz Grisales, the International Secretariat of Red Lacre, said that the waste pickers and allies were crying with happiness when the court canceled the bidding process.

Adriana Ruiz-Restrepo, an attorney who has been working with the waste pickers for a decade, said: “This is the biggest sanction  ever declared and a major triumph for those of us who propound for the legal empowerment of the poverty trapped for advancing inclusive development. We are very appreciative of all  the voices of support that we received when we were rejecting  undue pressure of the Waste Agency of the municipality on the Constitutional Court.” See articles in El Tiempo and in Noticias Caracol on the victory.

Public Hearing for the National Policy Implementation Plan

Brasília, Brazil
Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 2012

Waste pickers at the hearing in Brasilia

Monica, waste picker leader from MNCR speaks up at the hearing

Brazil’s National Solid Waste Law was ratified in August of 2010. The plan claims to establish a series of measures, including the end of open landfills, the implementation of recycling collection and the inclusion of waste pickers in solid waste management.

Waste pickers at the hearing in Brasilia

Waste pickers at the hearing.

The public hearing is part of a public consultation process that began in September of 2011. The aim of the this process was to receive and incorporate suggestions and contributions from civil society to the development of the national plan. Six hundred people from all sectors, including 100 waste pickers/catadores from MNCR coming from different states, sat down to collectively discuss the guidelines, strategies and goals for waste management in Brazil. Among the topics were how to better reduce, reuse and recycle and incorporate waste pickers — in a professional way — in this process.

One of the biggest concerns for the waste pickers was Article 9, a problematic text that opens the door to the incineration industry. As a result of the participation of civil society in these public hearings, the possibility for incineration companies to operate is now more difficult. See article by Magdalena Donoso, the Latin American Coordinator for GAIA, in English and Spanish as well as the MNCR website,


“Waste Picking in Africa” Newsletter launched in September 2011

This extensive print newsletter featured articles on exchanges between Indian and African waste pickers, a section on the issues to be discussed at COP17, a list of organizing tips, an article about the history and formation of the the South African RRR network, a piece about CDM incineration and landfill gas systems, a review of gains from a conference in Senegal, and an events calendar. See the online versions in French and English.

SWaCH Newsletter launched in October 2011

SWaCH, a cooperative of waste pickers based in Pune, India, that became operational in 2008, launched its first quarterly in October of 2011. The newsletter reported the inauguration of a mobile recycling unit in September, the Nirmalya Collection and Recycling Project, the creation of recycling centers where waste pickers can work without being exposed to the elements, segregation drives to encourage the separation of wet and dry waste, and a project in which artist Shirin Rehman depicted in a series of paintings the lives and work of waste pickers after living in several Pune slums with waste pickers.

RedLacre electronic newsletter launched in September 2011

Included in the first electronic newsletter were articles by Marlen Chacón, of Programa Escazu Recicla in Costa Rica, who discussed the realities of working as a recicladora in Costa Rica and the importance of uniting as a Latin American and global network of waste pickers. Also included was a call for participation in the Global Day of Action against incineration, a gallery of photos, and an announcement of grants won by a number of Latin American waste picker associations. Visit to sign up for the newsletter.

Launch of the Network of Latin American Waste Pickers/La Red Latinoamericana website:

The Latin American Network, Red Lacre, is an organization that represents and involves labor movements that unite waste pickers throughout Latin America. Red Lacre’s mission is to improve working conditions of waste pickers and to initiate dialogue between countries in order to exchange experiences, organize, and take action. The network represents waste pickers’ groups in 15 countries. Last year, as part of a process of decentralization that began in Peru during the 4th Conference of Waste Pickers, the current communications team (based in Chile) decided to design and launch the new website. The goal was to solidify the network and help develop relationships between waste pickers across Latin America.

Launch of – the website of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers

Around the world, waste pickers are working individually and in groups. The idea behind the Global Alliance is to strengthen relationships between waste pickers across the world with the idea that there are no borders for those who fight for the same cause: being recognized and properly included in the solid waste management systems of their cities and and being treated as recycling professionals. With more and more waste pickers using the Internet, the launch of is an opportunity to connect waste pickers across continents, particularly – but not only – those strongly organized in Latin America, Africa and Asia with the issues that affect them locally and globally. The website will serve as a meeting place for waste pickers in these three continents – a multi-lingual hub for communicating and catching up on current issues and events, as well as an educational space for those interested in learning and supporting waste pickers’ causes.

Several projects are in the works. One is example is an interactive map to be produced this year. It will show where waste pickers’ groups have formed and include important details about their associations. With this tool, waste pickers will be able to learn about other groups and also contact them. A pre-website was launched in December, kicking off by documenting the Global Alliance events and activities at COP17. The website will continue to include information from major events around the world that involve waste pickers. Visit

In addition to the website, the Global Alliance has disseminated information via Facebook and Twitter. To follow the Global Alliance on Facebook, visit To follow on Twitter, visit @global_rec.

Alliance of Indian Wastepickers (AIW) 2011 newsletters

August 2011
November 2011

asamblea centroamericana

Waste picker members of Red Lacre, united at their 1st Central American Conference, Nicaragua, February 2012


Mapping of African waste pickers

January-February, 2012
Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, and Benin

Beginning in January, WIEGO made a series of trips in the Francophone African countries of Madagascar, Mali, Benin, and Cameroon in order to map waste picker groups. The goal of this ambitious project was to identify and make contact with organizations of waste pickers and organizations working with waste pickers in Francophone Africa and to include waste pickers’ groups in the Global Alliance. Part of the mapping process includes the collection of data from each waste picker organization and support group that will result in the creation of a detailed database. The end goal is an expanded global network of waste pickers. During the field visits, new groups of waste pickers were identified in all the countries, and good contacts have been made, including with a strong group of women waste pickers in Benin. (Organized and supported by WIEGO’s African Program)

Mapping Workshop – Niger waste pickers

March 2012

WIEGO will train members of the Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON) to identify, contact and collect information on waste pickers’ organizations and support groups in Nigeria (mapping). It is part of a continued effort to map African waste picker organizations and support organizations with a view to integrating them into the Global Alliance. (Organized by FIWON. Supported by WIEGO’s African Program)

1st Central American Conference of Waste Pickers & Annual Assembly of the Latin American Network

February 20-25, 2012
Managua, Nicaragua

This year, Nicaragua hosted the annual continental summit that brought together 21 countries and 160 waste pickers (recicladores). The event was a milestone celebrating the first meeting of the Central American and Caribbean Recyclers and their integration into the Latin American Network. It also brought Central American recyclers together, allowing them to build a network of support and share their experiences with regional allies to help them strengthen their organizations. The objectives were to bring visibility to recyclers in Central America and the Caribbean and support their organizing efforts. At the conference, the Latin American waste pickers drafted the “Declaration of the First Central American Waste Pickers’ Conference”, which was dedicated to Juana Rafaela Juárez Téllez.

The conference was made possible because of Central American Mapping, where Red Lacre members traveled to ten countries to meet and identify their waste picker comrades who are working in a region where very little information has been provided so far. Participating countries included Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela. (Organized by the Latin American Network (Red Lacre), the Nicaraguan Network of Recyclers (RedNica), WIEGO. Supported by WIEGO, AVINA, GAIA, and STREETNET affiliates)

Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers’ National Convention

March 2012
Pune, India

The convention aims to explore the various forms of Integration of waste pickers in solid waste management within the framework of MSW Rules 2000 and showcase the SWaCH model. Some topics to be discussed include: better understanding integration/inclusion, how models of integration/inclusion actually function, how waste pickers have organized to achieve these models and to ensure their success, the challenges that different models raise for waste picker organizations, what proportion of the city’s waste and waste management they handle or cover, the gaps in these models both from the point of view of the city and the waste pickers themselves, how they can be improved, technical and other resources that may be required for that. A three-fold programme is proposed that brings together 3,000 waste pickers from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, 300 wastepickers from other cities in India, as well as waste pickers from the rest of Asia. (Organized by the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, in collaboration with the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. Supported by WIEGO)

Biogas Workshop

March 17-18, 2012
Pune, India

There have been several innovations in biogas technology over the years, such as the Nisarguna’s thermophilic process and Biogas refining, compression and bottling. The workshop will bring together some of these recent innovations in the Biogas field, and will serve as a platform for innovators, scientists, engineers, government, waste pickers and NGOs to get together and share ideas and information.

The workshop will also invite members of the Alliance of Indian Wastepickers who are interested in exploring livelihood opportunities in the field of organics management. The workshop will also help drive the point that wealth is not only in dry waste but also in wet waste. Once fully realized, this can also encourage better segregation and more skilled jobs in waste. Apart from helping the local environment by diverting waste away from landfills this will also mitigate climate change by reduction in methane emissions. (Organized by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Stree Mukti Sangathana. Supported by WIEGO’s Global Program)

Global Strategic Workshop and the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers Steering Committee meeting

April 27-May 1, 2012
Pune, India

Waste pickers’ organizations from Africa, Latin America and Asia will discuss different models of inclusion in municipal solid waste management systems and threats they are facing. The objective of this event is to develop an understanding of inclusive solid waste management models among the waste pickers, with a view to strengthen organizing efforts towards achieving them in cities across the world.

A comprehensive document of all the existing models could also emerge as a product of the workshop which groups could use both for their own learning, to strength their local organizing process as well as for advocacy purposes later. Following the workshop, KKPKP will invite participants to learn from local experiences of inclusion into the solid waste management system of their city, organizing side visits to different models while some participants will meet at the Steering Committee Meeting to discuss programs and plan for the coming years. (The workshop is being hosted by the KKPKP trade union of waste pickers in Pune, India, on behalf of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and with the support of WIEGO. For more information, contact