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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UN Plastic Treaty

Active participation of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers in the process

The United Nations is in the process of negotiating a global treaty to tackle plastic pollution. This treaty aims to address all stages of the plastic life cycle, including design, production, and disposal. The decision to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was made on March 2, 2022, during the fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) held in Nairobi, Kenya. The committee’s mandate is to advance the development of a legally-binding international agreement on plastics.

The International Alliance of Waste Pickers’ participates as an active voice in the UNEA Plastics Treaty process. We ask for the recognition and direct participation in national laws and regulations related to plastic waste management. We also call for fair compensation, a just transition to new systems, reduced use of toxic substances in plastics, and the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility norms. These measures aim to acknowledge waste pickers’ historical contributions, protect their rights, and promote effective and sustainable plastic waste management practices.

In an historical moment for the waste pickers movement, the resolution adopted by UNEA on March 2nd, 2022, recognized the “significant contribution made by workers in informal and cooperative settings to the collecting, sorting and recycling of plastics in many countries”. For the first time informal recyclers were mentioned in an United Nations Environmental Resolution.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee

Following the decision made during UNEA-5.2, an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was established with the mandate of developing a global legally binding agreement on plastics by the end of 2024. The work towards the treaty began with an Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting in Dakar, Senegal in June 2022. During this meeting, a timeline for subsequent meetings, rules of procedure, and the initial scope of work for the INC’s first meeting were established.

The first meeting of the negotiating committee (INC-1) took place in Punta del Este, Uruguay in November-December 2022. The second meeting (INC-2) was in Paris, France in May-June 2023. The upcoming meeting (INC-3) is taking place in Nairobi (Nov. 2023). Two more meetings (Canada INC-4, and INC-5) are planned until the end of 2024.

The International Alliance of Waste pickers (IAWP) has participated and plans to participate in these INC meetings to bring the voice of waste pickers to the international discussion.

Key moments

INC-3. Nairobi, Kenya. November 2023

Banner INC-3 IAWP participation in Nairobi, Kenya

IAWP at INC-3 in Nairobi

INC-2. Paris, France. May-June 2023

IAWP at INC-2 in Paris

INC-1. Punta del Este, Uruguay. November-December 2022

Open-Ended Working Group. Dakar, Senegal. June 2022

UNEA 5. Nairobi, Kenya. February-March 2022