The collective market system was established some years ago. However, in March, over 2000 waste pickers from the ‘Amanecer de los Cartoneros’ Cooperative, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, joined the market voluntarily, since they considered it a better opportunity for them and for the sector as a whole.
In the past, urban waste pickers had to carry materials back to their homes and keep them for around a week, until Saturday, when they could sell them at very low prices. As of this year, each worker is assigned a number of buildings, houses, and businesses which give them recyclable materials that have already been separated.
Then, the cooperative transports, processes, packages and markets the materials, and distributes the profits depending on the kilograms of waste each worker has collected. Argentine waste pickers are assigned a pick-up point, where a truck collects the bags with recyclable materials and takes them to the processing plant for their sorting out, packaging and sale. Each bag is labelled and weighed separately, so as to determine the kilograms of materials each worker has been able to collect. Materials are directly sold to factories, thus avoiding middlemen and getting a price 40% higher than that of informal storage systems.
Thanks to the huge and uninterrupted effort made by the waste pickers organized under the Federation of Waste Pickers and Recyclers of Argentina (FACCyR/CTEP), subsistence is now a path of resistance to achieve social transformation.