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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Waste pickers from around the world gather on March 1st to commemorate International Waste Pickers Day, ahead of their formalizing as an international union.

Waste pickers gather on March 1st each year to pay homage to the fellow waste pickers who were murdered in Colombia in 1992, when university guards killed at least 11 waste pickers so that their bodies could be sold to a medical school.

In their honor, this date became a global day in 2008, during the celebration of the first World Conference of waste pickers in Bogotá, Colombia. In this meeting, waste pickers coordinated their efforts in order to ensure their contribution to environmental protection, the economy, and the formal solid waste management system, was recognised.

This year, the international day is weeks ahead of the organization’s first elective congress, which will occur in May this year in Buenos Aires. In this congress, waste pickers will democratically elect its leadership for the first time. 

This follows over a decade of networking and negotiations, the launch of the constitution in October 2022, and an affiliation process to officially accept members.

The International Alliance of Waste Pickers’ (IAWP) Acting General Secretary Lucia Fernandez said the congress is a global message of unity and internationalism.

“This is the formalization of the sector through democratic procedures, following our constitution – after years of building this movement, waste pickers will now continue their fight under one banner, as a formal international union.”

The IAWP congress host, the Argentinian Federation of Recyclers (FACCyR), invited all IAWP affiliated members to record a video and send the world a very important message: “We are waste pickers,we are workers. This is our organization, united for our rights.” (soon to be published).

Our affiliates are commemorating the International Waste Pickers Day.


ASWOL – Nigeria

The Association of Scraps and Waste Pickers of Lagos (ASWOL) and the Lagos State Waste Management Authority commemorate this year´s International Waste Pickers’ Day with the theme: Zero Waste Sensitization Campaign and Awareness on How to Separate Wastes from Source with a march. Extracted from their press release “We demand the following:  The problems faced by Waste pickers are multifaceted and require urgent attention. It is essential to recognize their contribution to society and environment and improve their working conditions through (1) ‘Just Transitions’ by integrating them into the Waste management value chain; (2) Providing education and skills development training programs; (3) Access to loans, grants and healthcare facilities, this can uplift their lives and break the cycle of poverty by Creating awareness about Waste management and Recycling in Circular Economy among the Public which can lead to a more inclusive sustainable and supportive environment for Waste pickers stigmatization.Photos and report of the march.

Bokk Diom – Senegal

Last week Bokk Diom, at the Mbeubeuss landfill in Dakar, celebrated the constitutive congress of the Senegalese Recyclers’ Union. Watch video.

Bokk Diom’s March 1 celebration: this year, bokk diom organized an exchange workshop with the main stakeholders of GDS in Senegal, notably SONATES and PROMOGED. The aim was to monitor and evaluate the landfill’s transformation process, and to discuss proposals for the inclusion of reclaimers in the new structural entities set up: the cooperative society, the union and the women’s committee. Among the strong recommendations we can retain the commitment of the authorities to continue to create spaces for consultation and negotiation to improve the conditions of the workers in the planned actions, and to create other skills for those who want to leave reclaiming.

SAWPA – South Africa

Mpume Mthombeni, from Empatheatre, performing at the Durban Composting Network at the Botanic Gardens in Durban which SAWPA was part of. Watch video.

Asia Pacific

On International Waste Pickers Day, Samyukta Safari Jagaran (SASAJA), an affiliate of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers (IAWP), organised a march in Kathmandu. Hundreds of waste pickers from Kathmandu, Nepal, along with leaders and representatives of IAWP affiliates and allies in the Asia Pacific region from countries such as India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Fiji, Cambodia, and the Philippines, marched on streets of Kathmandu. “International Waste Pickers Day commemorates the memory of waste pickers who were brutally murdered in Colombia, as well as the thousands of waste pickers who have died or been killed while engaging in waste picking. On this day, let’s strive to ensure no waste picker is lost, discriminated against, or killed, and that every waste picker enjoys a dignified and comfortable life,” Sushila Sable, waste picker leader from Parisar Bhagini Vikas Sanstha stated at the conclusion of the march in the historical Darbar Square of Kathmandu.


An op-ed in the national newspaper (The Hindu) on the International Waste Pickers Day! Understanding the word of the informal waste picker.

Alliance of Indian Wastepickers

This March 1st, two thousand waste pickers from Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Ahmednagar, and Wardha of Maharashtra took action by sending postcards to the Indian Prime Minister, advocating for a national law to protect waste pickers’ rights and the establishment of welfare boards to address their livelihood and social protection concerns. This postcard campaign is an initiative spearheaded by the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, a national coalition of organizations working with waste pickers and other informal waste collectors. Read more: Empowering India’s Waste Pickers: Nationwide Campaign Seeks Rights Recognition on International Waste Pickers Day.

Thyajya Shramikha Sangha

Thyajya Shramikha Sangha (affiliate of IAWP, from Bangalore) published a series of videos to tackle different issues such as the need for caste certificates; and the inclusion of waste pickers and other informal waste workers in the Swachh Bharat monitoring and implementation committees at the Municipal and State levels. Watch videos.

In preparation for International Waste Pickers Day, waste picker leaders of Karnataka based union, Thyajya Shramika Sangha organised a press conference where they demanded that we need a national law for waste pickers’ welfare and state-level tripartite boards for collective bargaining and negotiations. Leaders who spoke were Krishna, Indumathi, Mansoor, Velu, Amblu and others. Watch video.

Waste Pickers in Karnataka received the state-level registration of their union, Thyajya Shramika Sangha on International Waste Pickers Day.

PPIM – Indonesia

“I’m proud to be a waste picker to protect the environment” Indonesian Waste Pickers Association t-shirt.

Latin America

MNCR – Brazil

For March 1st, MNCR will be hosting several leaders from the MNCR and waste picker movements in Latin America for a chat. It will be a moment of reflection and encouragement for the struggle. Participate by sending audio or video messages and share this moment collectively. It will be broadcasted online on Youtube, Facebook and now also on Instagram. Don’t miss it!

On March 1st, At 6pm, Pimp My Carroça and Cataki are holding another round of talks. This time, to discuss the challenges of closing down dumps with a fair transition for waste  pickers – a global and local agenda. The meeting is part of a series of actions by the organizations to raise public awareness about the context of waste pickers in dumps – which are scheduled to be closed in Brazil in August 2024. The issue is urgent, considering that there are hundreds of thousands of people who survive in these places and need to be included in the process of closing down the more than 2,500 dumps in the country.  More info.

Latin America

Asociación Nacional de Recicladores – Colombia

The National Association of Waste Pickers of Colombia is calling for a national rally (“minga”) and march to defend the rights of waste pickers to the minimum subsistence income. The minga will be held on February 29th, followed by a march on March 1st to the Ministry of Housing, both actions in Bogotá. The recyclers are demanding protection for their permanence in their job and the defense of the rights they have achieved to date, such as payment for service. Read full statement (in Spanish).

Lázaro Cárdenas – Mexico

ASONARES – El Salvador

ANARCH – Chile

North America

Sure We Can – USA

Sure We Can and Alliance of Independent Recycler (affiliate of IAWP from New York), have organized a rally to fight for the rights of waste pickers on March 1st. More information.