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

Check translation:

Notes from session: A. Sharing sessions by region: Understanding Different Models (continued from April 27)

Africa presentation
Esther from Ghana

  •  Similarities: Everyone tries to rely on middlemen for waste picking.
  • In most African countries, waste pickers don’t deal with organic waste. except  In Egypt they feed it to the pigs.
  •     In the English-speaking countries, there are common names for waste pickers between countries, but not in francophone African countries.
  •  Governments of foreign countries deal with SP and not middlemen
  • No relationship betw/ those who collect recyc and those who create  garbage.
  • Want to create a relationship
  • Desire to organize everyone under one umbrella to share experiences
  • Open quesiton: How to deal with organic waste?

Serbia (Europe)
Misloslav from Serbia

  • In Serbia, there is a prejudice against collectors, they work in poor conditions
  • The collectors are not organized, they mostly collect from the containers or landfills against the law.
  • Mostly collecting metals and some cardboard, paper and plastic
  • Not collecting organic waste
  • In the city where he’s from Cacak (with accents over C’s), there’s a pilot project on composting. The government is helping to educate and start composters collect. It’s a huge step.
  • If any of us have materials, such as t-shirts, he is interested in having them to show people at home.
  • Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia, etc. – The MW is generally managed by the public system. There is a man who is helping collectors get involved in this and get organized because there is a lot of space for them to work with the system.
  • Though the region is middle-income, they are hit hard by recession and struggling to meet requirements  by the EU to regulate waste deposited in landfills, toxic waste, etc.  this is an oportunity for waste collectors.
  • At this point, they pay a lot of attention to education and keeping children away from waste collection. They fight for health protection. This is one thing they have been able to fight for.
  • Mostly municipal corp – very little private throughout the eastern European.

A picture what is happenning in 9 cities in India, 3 china, 2 Indonesia, 1 Bangladesh


  • Wps seen at all common municpal maintenance systems
  • Not always recognised
  • High level of discrimination
  • Level of recognition and formalisation of WPs depend on strength of orgnization of WP

Latin America
Denis and Dudu Presenting


  • Door to door (puerta a puerta) or territorial cirquits, supported by municipality and some by the service (only in Brasila and Argentina)
  • Cirquits teritorial
  • Land fills
  • Colection on the street
  • To be made in Colombia: separation in
  • Collection transport and recovering materials, exclusive, up-to-date with source segregation just about to be approved in Colombia

Common problems/challenges

  • We have a common challenge: the infrastructure does not belong to waste pickers
  • There are parallel systems that are competing (sometimes), like incineration is not parallel
  •  Most of the municipalities are not supporting waste pickers
  • There is still  not good source segregation because there is a lack of citizen involvement, the materials are all mixed
  • There is not source segregation (some in BRasil), lack of citizen involvement
  • In some places not allowed to transport waste
  • Fight for legislation to get recognition


  • Expansion of privatization (corrupt governments)
  • Reinforcement of comercialization technologies (incineration, prilosis, others)
  • Inverse logistic
  • New interested parties, such as big corpotrations (biodigestion?)
  • Vertical integration (recycling, waste, technology)
  • Don’t have technology to handle recycling properly
  • Don’t have space to handle processing
  • Speaker says: There are two kinds of poor people in the world — poor in money and poor in brains.  If you stop being poor in the mind, you can stop being poor materially.
  • Trying not to have differences among countries, want to be equals, united

B. Model presentation

India Presentation

  • Waste colleciton govorned by local bodies, which have sole control over SWM
  • Many cities in India have door to door collection
  • The system is either informal or formal
  • Wasterpickers are involved both formally and informally

Overall Scenario

  • Waste pickers generally pick up waste from the roadsides, landfill sites, and transfer stations.
  • Where the waste pickers pick up waste from the above, they are at the whim of the employees of teh ULBs who either take bribes or collect the waste themselves.

Points of difference (Variantion in d2d collection)

  • Some direct user fee collection only
  • Direct fee and management cost
  • Management cost is subsidized by organization
  • Collection is done by ULB and given to waste group
  • Bided tenders
  • In official tie up with the private companies
  • Wastepickers are moslty included in primary collection
  • Very few instances where WPs are involed in the processing of wet waste, fewer than 10% of waste pickers in wet waste

Some features of integration

  • Road side sweeper who are ULB employees play a major role
  • Privatization of d2d collection
  • In many cities privatization is not successful
  • Collection work is again given to WPs especially in low-line areas where private contractors are not able to service
  • In some cities, dry waste collection centers are given to wastepickers
  • Sorting sheds are given to WPs by ULBs
  • In cases where ULB pays, the payment is not recieved for up to 6 or 7 months
  • Many cities ULB have recognized and given identity cards to the waste pickers
  • In many cities, pushcarts are given ULB but mantenance is not provided
  • In many cases, investment for pushcart made by waste pickers group


  • No single system of d2d collection followed throughout the country
  • As per the convince (?) of the ULB
  • Highly dependent on the collective bargaining power of the organization working
  • Dependent on the relation of the organization
  • ULBs not keen to recognise the role of wps
  • Trend toward privitization is seen

Bolivia Presentation

Clarifying questions:
What was the ordinance for that the government passed on Tuesday?

  • We asked for recognition, medical and life insurance. Rights that any other worker gets. In the next week, they are going to pass this ordinance.  We have an official who is helping us a lot, supporting us in many other important things as well.

Does the land that you’re using belong to the government or is it your own?

  • Right now we’re renting.

What is the make-up of the workers?

  • The majority of workers are women, there are very few men working with them.  They are attempting to show that this work can be done successfully, and will help give education to our kids and support our families.

Brazil Presentation
Speaker from the co-op “Copemare” in Natale (Severino Lima).
Movimiento Nacional de Catadores

(He can speak better in Spanish, so is defering to translators)

We are going to talk about the processes we have in our city (Natale). 800,000 people, very small part of the country. We are just a small part of the global picture.

In Brazil, we talk about different models that change from north to south — different cooperatives.

It is difficult to talk about one plan because there is much variation
To talk of only one experience would be impossible
More than 10 years of struggle.

Networks in Brazil listed on slide (11)

Cooperative (COPEMARE)
78% are women
128 workers

City is separated by zones
Pay for service (80%)
60% city coverage
900 tons of trash daily (generated waste)
600 tons/months of recyclable materials (as per the contract)

The waste pickers have a contract and have convinced the municipality that with all the money the waste pickers save the city, they ought to be paid.

3 prices of service

They analzed the fees to try to understand how the waste pickers can reduce the fee and from that savings, they pay the waste pickers. The personal relationships that waste pickers have with neighbors are a bonus for the city, because normal waste pickers do not have these relationships.

The contract they have depends on the working capacity. They need to optimize and increase the waste that they’re working on

When they started their salary was about 150 US$, and it has now reached 400 US$.
Hydroelectric cart that they are trying out (in picture)

Composition of Trash
Create opportunities from newly acquired skills one of the most important parts of exchange

Although they are small, one of the most important things is to promote what they are able to do. The waste pickers are only handling about 2% of the total kinds of waste. Knowledge like this, about the composition of the waste is important for understanding how to improve.

540 recyclers involved in process
90% of the city is covered (?)
25% of wastes are collected
New enterprises

National legislation can force you to have recyclable things and this obligation to recycling can help the waste pickers work because all the consumption can provide WPs with more materials.

Want to acheive something locally to strengthen process

Clarifying questions:
1. What are the number of waste pickers in your city (Natale)? How is is that 125 people collect 60% of the waste?

We have only 800,000 residents and 60% of the whole city is covered by 125 people.
Normally what happens is that they have a lot higher pay if they are working with a cooperative than if they are working inside an organization.

2. What do the non-integrated workers do? Are they collecting the rest of the waste that is not collected by the organized workers?

They collect the waste which is remaining on the streets. And they sell it to the intermediary persons. There’s one thing: I am talking only about one cooperative, but there are actually two cooperatives working in my city.

3. What is the pay for service?
Pay by weight; resources that collected are communal

4. How many people work at the dumpsite?

Argentina Presentation
Cristina from El Ceibo coop.

From Exclusion to Inclusion
New practices in solid waste management
Assuring jobs, improving quality of life for those who live on streets
Christina needs support, has always officially represented the network
Everyone talking about it, but only a few really working on it
Doing all of this environmental work for free
Lack of respect for waste workers
Collective decision-making
Richest areas are restricted, don’t have access
Lacre Network comprised of many Argentinian cooperatives

Same as everyone here, started with the garbage bags
One day we realized that the government was saying that the garbage was their property or that of the private sector

We started asking for help. We realized we were working only with the garbage bags. We used to work at night. You can imagine it was not nice. A group of 8 women organized.

And in this manner we begain that cooperative, was very difficult in the beginning. People imprisoned us and we realized that we had to change course.

We did not have identity cards, we did not know how to talk on mobiles, we did not have university education. We started by making identity cards for all of us.
We are pioneers in Argentina for segregation at source, as we carry out door to door teaching people how to separate their garbage – paper, plastic, etc.

Begain to realize that they need machines to scale up

All the machines we saw on the video, there are a mix of things.  One of the places was donated by the government, but others were from private companies.

2 trucks brings resources to center

There are a lot of cooperatives in Buenos Aires. In BA, apparently, there are five cooperatives, but at one point, we just got all together so they weren’t all isolated.

Payment of contracting service

  • Started with nothing, now we realize that this is a social enterprise and we need to come         together to maximize profits

We are environmentally helpful, etc. but at teh end of the day, we need to make a living.

Those who are not organized have harder time

There are more and more private companies. They approach us with ideas that at first seem interesting (i.e. incineración encubierta, incineration), but we should be careful. They want to make us disappear, and take the control of the entire system. They want us to divide.

Claifying questions;

World Bank has a long history of carbon credits – benefits for recycling?

  • Don’t have a relationship with the World Bank. Christina knows this idea of getting carbon credits is very complicated and she is not completely familiar.

Historially, WPs were exploited, now they have machines, now they have life insurance, they pay taxes, and the enterprises they are selling to ask for official papers and accounts. Right now, they are paying lots of money to have their accounts in order. But to tell you the truth, Christina says they are still selling things on the black market, but they are being as transparent as they can. “We need to recover people so they can recover materials.”

Venimos de la nada, y levantamos un monton
We come from nothing, and we have lifted a lot (?).

Do you also process the recyclable materials?

  • Not yet, we are going step by step. First we have worked with the collection, and we certainly want to engage with the commercialization in the neat future. However, you should also consider that most of us have difficult personal stories and background. Part of our efforts have therefore also gone into first recovering the human beings, our lifes.

Senegal Presentation
Aliou Fare sharing on Mbeubeuss, Senegal from BOKK DIOM (his association)

Association Des Recuperateurs et Recycluers de Mbeubeuss (BOKK DIOM) — Associations of Waste Pickers and Recyclers of Mbeubeuss

– the state and public authorities
– the waste pickers
– the private companies

There are two types of waste pickers — those who pick it up and those who are recyclers.
The waste management system in Dakar is not inclusive for the wastepickers.
They collect waste with vehicles, have 2 rotations, 334 trucks, 14 tons/vehicle, about 4776 tons of waste.
Government agents measure amt of waste, ensure that it will be weighed
Exclusively in that area what they recieve is solid waste, different areas where it comes from
– households
– industrial units
– hospitals
– markets
– other services

Types of waste
-plastic (bottles, sacks, chairs, shoes)
– metalic waste (aluminum, iron, copper, bronze, metalic pieces)
-electronic waste (radio, tvs, computers)
– organic waste (rice, fish, food residue)
Also other waste – glass, artificial hair, chiffon

Recycling system: three steps
1. segregation:
Waste is not segregated when collectioned, but rather when everything is collected int he landfill using a metalic instrument (magnet?).
Food residue is taken by the women, used to feed pigs, for example.
2. recycling,
Plastic is the most easily recycled material
3. commercialization
Every waste picker has a small area where he can go and sell materials (1x per day or 1x per week)

To conclude, there is an important chain of people working in waste in Dakar, but also the precense of people who are not integrated who work on their own. Improper trainig is a problem. There is also a managment problem.

His association, BOKK DIOM
– 1200 members
– Provide basic training (training center)
– They have a health center, which is an important place to generate revenue
– Training center for children
– Looking for partnerships
– There is a community hall
– They have a training center for girls

They would like partnerships to support their training center, to provide support for the children, etc. The local government has given them status as an assocaiton that works and they also have a partnershp with WIEGO and others. They try to increse the capacity of the organization. They also have better visability through partnerships.

– Not everyone is a member
– In May, going to have elections for a new president
– Want to increase negotiation and leadership capacity
– Be able to have bargaining power with government
– Better status for workers

By segregating and recycling one third (1/3) of the waste that arrive in the landfill, the wastepickers offer an essential contribution to the city waste management.
However their contribution is nor formally recognized. We could otherwise talk of an intergration ‘de-facto’.

Not an inclusive system

– Is there any rule concerning e-waste?

  • For electronic waste, there is a German company that comes and buys electronic waste.

– You have mentioned that the there is a plan to close the landfill in which you work. How could the global wps alliance send a strong message about the importance of the work you do in Dakar?

  • Waste pickers are fighting with government about the closure of the landfill, because the new center that has been proposed has not been discussed. The proposition has not been clearly defined. Aliou hopes there is support to ensure the landfill is not closed.

– I’m concerned about the e-waste. Before you answered us about the commercialization, but not about its management knowing the health issues involved in it. So, I would like to ask you, what kind of management are carrying out with such an hazardous waste?

  • Waste pickers do pick up all waste, including e-waste, but they sell it to intermediaries.  The intermediaries have a connection with the German company he mentioned.  Waste pickers do not actually sell the waste to the company.

-What type of training is going to be conducted for the kids?

  • 2 centers
  • the training center for girls –  already has computers/internet and the ladies are taught     how to sew and make shoes
  • for the children – proposition made by the association to ensure that children are not a part of wastepicking, children should be taken out and taught something else (this project still in pipeline)

– Landfills are closing, how can you achieve solidarity?

  • After closing landfills, no work, so better to conserve jobs by fighting to keep landfills open
  • Yes, if the landfill is closed, there will be a segregatation center, but the govt is asking for only 350 workers in the center, so all the rest will not have work. Also, the government is asking the workers in the segregation center pay an exorbinant fee to work there. Because of these two issues, they are working to keep the landfill open.

Egypt, Mali and the Philippines Presentation