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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Law Report: Peru

Waste Pickers in Peru


Peru produces nearly 20,000 tonnes of waste daily, of which nearly 35 per cent is recyclable. Waste pickers or recicladores contribute to this process of recycling and recovery of valuable resources.

Size and Significance

There are nearly 100,000 recicladores in Peru.

Working Conditions

“Improvising themselves “recicladores” go around these open sky dumps looking for plastic or paper that they can resell for a small amount of money to an intermediary who sells these materials to a recycling centre. These “recicladores” work in really bad conditions, without gloves, protection masks and working pants. Moreover, the “recicladores” are regularly persecuted by the local police who do not accept their activity. Finally, as they work alone during the night, the “recicladores” are often victim of the violence of the local gangs.”


On an average, the waste pickers earn about 2 USD a day.

Law and Policy

The Constitution of Peru states that everyone has the right to enjoy a balanced environment suitable for the development of life

Federal Law: The winds of change began in law and policy approach to waste management in 2004, when the non-profit organisation Ciudad Saludable and waste picker co-operatives rallied around and successfully advocated for the General Law on Solid Waste (Law #27314). Article 10 supports the provincial and district municipalities are responsible for providing services collection and transportation of solid waste. The law requires municipal authorities to promote waste minimisation and separation at source, keeping the interests of waste pickers in mind. There were several challenges in implementing the law and so an amendment was carried out to the law in 2008. Some highlights of the changes are a commitment to –

  • a) formalising people, operators and other enterprises that are involved in solid waste management.
  • b) develop measures to create healthy and safe working conditions.
  • c) promote participation of micro and small-scale enterprises in the management of non-hazardous waste.
  • d) require provincial municipalities implement a ‘Solid Waste Sorter Formalisation programme’ in which the municipality will assign work zones for selective collection to recicladores. The recicladores will not be paid by the municipality and will earn their income from the sale of recyclables. The municipalities are charged with facilitating and monitoring the programme and promoting education and awareness amongst local residents and businesses.

In 2009, a law regulating the activity of the waste pickers (Law 29419) was passed. This law, developed through a participatory process involving representatives of organizations of waste pickers, establishes an important norm regulating waste picking, offering them a formal status and integrating them into the solid waste management system.

Organisation and Voice

In 2008, the National Movement of Recyclers of Peru MNRP was formed, giving collective voice to the large recycling community.