Iwpar project news archives

1. Recycling day festival Vietnam : “Rác - Cuộc sống quanh Tôi” [Les déchets - notre quotidien]

2013-08-16 17:30

On Sunday, April 14, the 6th annual Recycling Day festival was held in Ho Chi Minh City at “Nhà Văn hóa Lao Động”. This event was indeed an opportunity for us, Enda Vietnam, to promote our activities to the general public. The reach of our activity was even greater since this event was covered on television and by both local and national newspapers. In addition, this festival attracted large crowds because it featured artists who are well known throughout the country, thus ensuring lots of excitement.
Read more by downloading the pdf below.

2. Space for sorting and recycling in Indian railway stations

2013-06-20 13:00

In honour of Earth Day on April 22, 2013 in India, the Safai Sena collective (, aided by the Chintan association (, irculated a petition in the capital city's railway stations to make travallers aware of rubbish collection and sorting. The action centred on the country's four principal stations, including New Delhi which generates 80 tons of rubbish each month (essentially plastics). To accompany the initiative, the association provided sorting bins and machines to crush bottles. The result was that 2,200 kilos of plastic waste was sorted and recycled daily (representing 6,000 bottles), which is some 30% of the total waste produced. To accomplish this massive clean-up operation involved 135 rubbish collectors and recyclers hired from The Safai Sena by the company that manages station maintenance. However, waste is valuable in India and this new organisation is opposed by collectors and recyclers who were exploiting these sites. This led to incidences of conflict.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time that the Chintan association has been recognised for its projects in favour of waste collectors and recyclers. In 2013 Chintan was awarded 3rd Prize for intercultural innovation by the United Nations, which rewards community projects that encourage cultural exchanges. Through recycling, this project aims to improve understanding between disadvantaged migrants, the middle classes and well off in New Delhi.

For more information, see :

Conversation entre un passager et un membre de l'association Chintan sur l'importance du travail de collecteurs
Discussion between a passenger and a member of the Association Chintan
on the importance of the work of collectors. Source: Global alliance of waste pickers.
3. The Timarpur-Okhla project in India

Consumption of so-called “fossil energy” has increased continuously since the beginning of the industrial age. So too have carbon emissions. Among the options available to counter this phenomenon, clean development mechanisms (CDMs) allow developing nations to reduce their carbon emissions so that industrialized nations do not have to change their production habits. The Timarpur-Okhla waste-to-energy project underscores the numerous flaws with this approach, as well as the toxic impact it has on workers in the informal waste sector.

Read more by downloading the pdf below.

incinerator_timarpur_okhla.pdf (387.9 kB)

4. Paris, year 1884. The « Poubelle » Decree and its impacts on waste pickers.

2013-03-13 16:40

“Before the decree, a married man with 3 children could gain 10 francs (FF) per day, i.e. 2 FF per person on average. Since we cannot dump garbage from highway, 50% of usable rubbish as scavengers collected are lost to the French industry.

And instead of 2 francs per day, scavengers made just 1fr. I am a cloth merchant! I employed, before decree, six men and number of women. I usually bought on average for 500 frs of trash per day. Since, I don't buy more than 140 or 150 FF. Instead of 6 men, now I can just pay 3 employees, and I had to fire half of the 10 or 12 women that used to work with me. So, these men and women can no longer work for me, but they can't find another work with my colleagues, they are homeless, it's impossible to find a job. Obviously these women can hardly dressmaking or make lingerie. This is the crisis we suffer from.

The prefect told us "I don't want to do away with the scavenging, see, there are still 1 or 2 scavengers on each car". But these scavengers don't have time, even if they would like to, to separate and collect every usable trash in the industry from garbage trucks. It follows that at least 5O% of garbage are totally lost. There is in a domestic garbage truck collected in Paris enough to support between 50 and 60 people. If only 4 are admitted to search, they are the only ones to benefit. The remaining 46 are unemployed. In fabrics, with even luxury clothes are manufactured, there are between 20 or 25% of old wool, frayed old merino with 75% of new wool added. Those merinos, staying in the trash bin undergo a depreciation. Heat corrupts them, damages them, and they do not have the same quality anymore.”

Extracted from an interview of Mr. Potin, « Master in Textile Recycling », by the « 44 Commission » (a Parliamentary commission), March, 11th 1884.


Quoted again by Lucia Fernandez, 2012, UN CHEVAL PEUT‐IL RÉELLEMENT REMPLACER UN CAMION POUBELLE? La Gestion des Déchets, entre tradition et modernité, Mémoire Master Éthique et Développement Durable, Faculté de Philosophie Lyon 3, 39 pages.

5. Plastic bags: outlawed in Mauritania

2013-03-13 10:37

The 'zazous'

On average, a Mauritanian uses 7 zazous a day, which often end up on the ground. In the words of the Mauritanian Minister of the Environment, “the majority of plastic packaging waste is not collected and ends up in nature, whether on land or in the sea, where it is sometimes ingested by grazing livestock or marine species, and ultimately causes their death.” 1 80% of cattle slaughtered in the abattoirs in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, “have plastic bags in their bellies”, according to the Official Mauritanian Press Agency. What's more, according to official statistics, plastic material represents 25% of the 56,000 tonnes of waste produced annually in Nouakchott .2 “Before these bags were formally banned, an initial initiative was set up in Mauritania in 2007 by the Ministry of the Environment. In 5 years, a collection and recycling industry for plastic matter was created in Nouakchott and entrusted to women who earn an income from it.

Read more by downloading the pdf below.

Plastic_bags_outlawed_in_Mauritania.pdf (291.2 kB)

6. There are no boundaries for those who fight!

2013-02-28 21:00

That is the slogan that will be repeated tomorrow, Friday March 1, 2013, the International Waste Pickers' Day. This date commemorates the assassination of eleven of these "informal" workers twenty-one years ago in Columbia, and symbolizes their daily struggle for recognition of their work and improvement of their working conditions. This day will be celebrated in several countries where these workers play a crucial role in the collection and recycling of waste, through discussions, marches, speeches, raising awareness in schools and universities, letters to government and media, and more.

In countries where IWPAR organizations have been established for several years, activities will be targeted and activist. In Bogota, Colombia, the waste recyclers' union (asociacion de los recicladores de Bogota) will make a floral offering in memory of those who died. All waste recyclers will be called upon to collect signatures to send to the government to make sure that it considers their interests when developing legislation. The National Chilean Recyclers Movement (El Movimiento Nacional de Recicladores de Chile) has started a media campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Some groups are distributing information from studies on the impact of incinerators on their work. Others seek to educate the media about their causes and the importance of this day. In Argentina, the Movement of Excluded Workers (movimiento de los trabajadores excluidos) is organizing demonstrations in various parts of the country to remind municipal governments to respect the law granting IWPAR exclusive waste management rights.

In countries where these movements are still in the early stages of development, this day will be an opportunity for these workers to gather. Such is the case in Honduras, where IWPARs will meet for the first time and try to form a national movement to represent their interests.

For more information:

7. Colombia: popular recyclers get organized !

2012-12-21 17:15

Come and discover the activities of the Loma Verde Collective ("loma verde" means green hill in Spanish) from the sub-city of Suba, in Bogotá, and the activities of the Ecoalianza association, a group of 3 recyclers' associations from Bogotá,  on their new websites : and

The Loma Verde Collective also takes part in the Roundtable of Community-Based Environmental Organizations (MAOC)..

Information available in Spanish only.

Photo : Ecoallianza sorts and resells recyclable plastic bottles © Ecoalianza 2012.

8. The report from the workshop organized by the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers in Pune

2012-08-10 09:16

The report from the workshop organized by the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers in Pune, India in April, 2012 - First Global Strategic Workshop of Waste Pickers: Inclusive Solid Waste Management - is now available. Several people worked on and advised on the report to provide a thorough record of the important discussions at the workshop.

This summary report details the Global Strategic Workshop in Pune, India in April, 2012, when 80 waste picker representatives from 34 cities discussed integration into solid waste management systems, their current situations and the threats they face in their cities. Through focus group discussions and mapping their own city’s model, participants shared and learned from each other and addressed ways to move forward collectively on many levels: locally, nationally and globally.

9. Philippines: 6000 Informal Garbage Workers to Benefit from Japanese Grant

2012-07-03 10:45

On June 18, 2012, the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), funded by the Japanese government for the World Bank, gave a $3-million grant to a project that had been approved by the World Bank board on JAN 10, 2012. Titled “Social Inclusion and Alternative Livelihood for the Informal Waste Sector” it aims to improve the lives of informal waste pickers in the Philippines. The Project intends to cover over 3500 IWPAR households in 5 municipalities/cities that will be undergoing the process of modernization of their facilities, as well as at least 2000 members of recycling cooperatives in Metro Manila and other Local Government Units (LGUs). It will be carried out by the Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines (SWAPP), a non-profit organization composed of solid waste management practitioners from local government units, national government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

The impact of formalization and modernization

World Bank regional director for Central Asia Motoo Konishi said the grant “will help address the impact of the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act [of 2000, ed.’s note]”. The 2000 act, aims to dramatically increase recycling at the source with the mandatory segregation of solid waste, as well as to promote eco-labeling of local products and services. It also prohibits “non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging”, as well as the use of open dumps. Instead, guidelines for the establishment of controlled dumps and sanitary landfills were set. This legislation represents a formalization and modernization of the waste disposal strategy of the Philippines, and officials such as Motoo Konishi fear they may affect the livelihood of informal garbage pickers and itinerant waste buyers.

There appears to be no conflict between this plan and the local authorities’ policy, since, according to Ms. Grace P. Sapuay, SWAPP’s Executive Vice President, “this partnership with the World Bank and JSDF will greatly boost our programs while helping the less fortunate.” The World Bank loan therefore helps accompany the informal waste sector through this transformation of its activity. “This is a very important project because it helps address the plight of one of the most marginalized groups in society—men, women and children earning a living from garbage,” Mr. Konishi added. 6,000 IWPARs in several parts of the Philippines stand to benefit from this grant.

Among others, the project aims to explore “innovative models to improve income”, “support [...] the integration of the informal sector in the waste management system with local governments using approaches to increase incomes and empowerment” (Philippines: social inclusion and alternative livelihood of the informal waste sector, World Bank, 2012). The grant will fund a combination of goods, works and training provided directly to the IWPARs and other participants in the IWPAR sector of the Philippines.

For more information visit:

10. UNEP report on green economy and waste: green jobs should also be decent jobs

In 2011, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published the report, “Waste, investing in energy and resource efficiency” in which they examine the current state of the waste sector in industrialized, middle-income and low-income countries, and propose measures towards “greening” it and improving waste management methods to reduce pollution.

Greening the waste sector

Greening the waste sector entails reducing the use of less preferable means of treating waste such as open-air incineration or the use of uncontrolled landfills, and moving towards the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). It means reducing consumption through sustainable community practices, recovering materials and energy from waste, treating hazardous materials in the least harmful manner possible, and increasing waste collection and segregation. Three of the main challenges of “greening the waste sector” cited in the UNEP report are increasing growth and complexity of waste, increasing risk of damage to human health and ecosystems, and the sector’s contribution to climate change.

Job creation in waste management

3.4 – 4 billion tons of municipal and industrial waste are produced each year with the majority coming from urban areas. In developed countries 25% of the waste which is recovered or recycled contributes US$ 410 billion each year to the economy. Given that only 25% of waste is recovered, there is more than enough room for the creation of jobs in this sector in both developed and developing countries. It is estimated that there are half a million people who depend on waste picking in Brazil, 40 000 in Buenos Aires, 2 million in the US and 10 million in China.

According to the Institute of Self Reliance, processing and sorting recyclables alone sustains 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, local authorities in partnership with international NGOs set up a recycling centre that is currently run by 30 former IWPARs. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a program was introduced to turn organic waste into compost. This project created 800 jobs. They process 50 000 tons of compost every year and the workers have access to health insurance, day care, and a free meal each day. However, it must be noted that creating “green jobs” can also have negative consequences on other sectors. For example, according to studies by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in 1997, it was found that for every job that is created in recycling, 13 jobs were lost in solid waste and virgin material extraction in North Carolina.

Investments in greening the waste sector should not only be about building facilities

Even if the UNEP, as most international institutions, calls for Private-Public-Partnerships and invites local authorities to sub-contract waste management to private companies, the authors of the report recall that investing in greening the waste sector should also include “the formalisation of the sector so that workers receive training, health protection and benefits, and a fair compensation for their labour”.

The UNEP also says that investments should preferably support “decentralised, localised and labour-intensive waste treatment systems as opposed to centralized, large-scale, capital-intensive waste facilities so as to generate job opportunities for local communities”.

Working conditions need to be improved

The UNEP notes that most standards in the waste sector tend to focus on environmental protection and human health issues (such as the reduction of contamination of soils by landfills), even if working conditions are “increasingly receiving attention”.

Despite the fact that so many people’s lives are touched by waste recovery and recycling, according to the UNEP report “many recycling or waste management related jobs cannot be considered green as they do not match the basic requirements of decent work”. Really green jobs would imply the elimination of “child labour, increasing and improving occupational safety and health measures, social protection and freedom of association (various forms of organisations of workers such as unions, local associations and cooperatives)”.

The UNEP also stresses that these jobs “represent a source of income for workers who usually have low levels of education or poor backgrounds [and] are an important element of poverty alleviation”.

Last but not least, the UNEP notes that the formalisation of waste pickers is not always the most desirable solution in the local contexts and that community-based organizations and NGOs have been very successful in empowering waste pickers and set up performing management systems for municipal waste.

Read this report at the following link:

11. Updated 2012 World Bank report on solid waste management in the world takes waste pickers more into consideration

2012-06-28 08:00

The report “What a waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” issued in March 2012 by the World Bank’s Urban Development department presents information on waste management for countries grouped by continent and by income levels and goes on to project their future municipal solid waste quantities.

What has changed (and what has not) in the waste sector between 1999 and 2012

The World Bank had published a “What a Waste” report in 1999 focused on Asia whose predictions can now be compared to the reality 10 years later. The 1999 report predicted that by 2025 the daily municipal solid waste (MSW) generation rate in Asia would be 1.8 million tonnes per day. At present, the daily generation rate in South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific combined is approximately 1 million tonnes per day.

The “What a waste” 2012 report now predicts at the international level (i.e. not only for Asia but also the other regions) an increase of MSW from the current 1.3 billion tons per year to 2.2 billion tons per year by 2025.

In the 2012 report, the World Bank notes that :

  • low-income countries continue to spend most of their solid waste management budgets on waste collection, with only a fraction going toward disposal. This is the opposite in high-income countries where the main expenditure is on disposal.
  • Rates of recycling are increasingly influenced by global markets, relative shipping costs, and commodity prices.

A growing interest for the point of view of formal and informal workers

A positive trend noted by authors of the report is that [over the past 10 years] “more emphasis has been placed on immigration and the social demographic of developed countries and the living and working conditions of informal sector workers in developing countries”.

The 2012 report is however still largely focussed on technical issues and does not give much information on jobs and working conditions in the waste sector. However, it recalls that “solid waste management, both formal and informal, represents 1% to 5% of all urban employment” and poses the concern – without entering into much detail - of aging waste collection workers especially in industrialized countries which requires to adapt the collection vehicle, infrastructure and working equipment to this new factor.

When noting the lack of enforced regulations which enables potentially infectious medical and hazardous waste to be mixed with MSW, the authors note that this is “harmful to waste pickers and the environment”.

The World Bank’s recommendations include the integration of the waste pickers

In the face of increasing populations, limited financial resources, and inefficient waste management practices, developing countries need to find ways to improve waste management. Waste management is important because it affects other sectors as well. In developing cities, waste collection is the largest single item in their budgets. Cities that do not effectively manage waste collection also struggle to offer good quality services in education, health or transport. The report offers possible solutions in favour of a detailed integrated solid waste management plan that incorporates public health, environmental protection, reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and institutional reforms just to name a few.

All countries are urged to implement waste management policies informed by the 3Rs; reduce, reuse and recycle, and often a fourth R is added that stands for “Recovery” meaning “energy recovery” for the industry, i.e. incineration and methane gas production.

The World Bank considers that “the effective integration of waste pickers, particularly in low-income countries, is critical”.

The role of waste pickers in waste separation and the recycling chain

The report notes the case of the city of Buenos Aires where waste separation is not carried out by the waste producer (household or industry) but by waste pickers who remove recyclables after the waste is placed curbside.

The authors then explain that this system is not the most performing, as “the resulting scattered waste is more costly to collect: in some cases the value of recyclables are less than the extra costs associated with collecting the disturbed waste” and mention an alternative “in some cities informal waste pickers have strong links to the waste program and municipally sanctioned crews can be prevented from accessing the waste as informal waste pickers process the waste”.

Another example is China where 20% of waste is recovered by waste pickers from dumpsites for recycling. The report sees this as positive : “informal recycling by waste pickers will have little GHG emissions, except for processing the materials for sale or reuse, which can be relatively high if improperly burned, e.g. metal recovery from e-waste”.

Download the report on:

12. Rio+20 Summit as seen by the waste pickers: "green economy" and big industry vs. empowerment of waste pickers

2012-06-20 07:55

On June, 16th of 2012, members of Waste pickers' associations in India and six Latin American countries met with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the Argentinian "Taller Ecologista" to discuss their positions for the upcoming Rio+20 conference. Groups such as the National Brazilian Movement of Recyclable Material Collectors (MNCR) want to provide insight into their personal experiences as waste pickers in Latin America. They also want to make sure Waste Pickers' voices are heard when world leaders meet to discuss the future of sustainable development and the "green economy". Mariel Vilella, from GAIA, denounced waste management policies that include privatization and waste-to-energy schemes, underlining that "waste pickers provide concrete solutions to waste management." There is a lot of skepticism among the group about the Rio+20. Some fear that if any agreements are reached, they will not be implemented, as with the UN action plan "Agenda 21" from the 1992 conference. Carlos Alencastro, from the MNCR, regrets that the conference remains "a reaffirmation of capitalism", but looks forward instead to the Rio+20 People's Summit, where NGOs, collectives, and other organizations will meet to discuss the development challenges of the 21st century.

Good to know: during the People's Summit and Rio+20, a group of waste picker leaders based in Rio have organized about 120 waste pickers to carry out recycling of the waste produced by the 40,000 participants to the event. As explained by Alex Cardoso from the MNCR, " this is not only going to serve as the recycling set-up for thousands of people these days, but is also meant to serve as a model for others to see how waste pickers provide an environment and social service".

To find out more about the meeting:

Photo credit:

13. Global Strategic Workshop for Waste Pickers (Pune, India)

2012-04-24 17:22

From the 24th to the 30th of April 2012 waste picker organizations from Latin America, Africa, and Asia gathered at Yashada, Pune to attend the Global Strategic Workshop for Waste Pickers. The event was hosted by SWaCH, an Indian waste pickers’ cooperative and the KKPKP waste picker’s trade union with additional support from WIEGO/Inclusive cities and RedLacre. To find out more about the convention, discussion topics, powerpoint presentations, activities, and photos, click on the following link:

14. American students get involved and support waste pickers!

2012-03-14 15:00

Despite the fact that IWPAR in some regions of the world receive support from organisations and donors, there are individuals who are also working to improve IWPAR’s work and health conditions. Recognizing the fact that waste pickers often have to carry bags weighing more than 25kgs on their backs, a student at MIT in the US (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) designed a prototype for a cart that could be very useful in waste collection. In this article, the student talks about some of the breakthroughs and challenges that they had during this project.

Find out more about this innovative invention at

15. Indian NGO First recipient of an American Award

2012-03-10 09:55

Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls

An Indian NGO has been selected for the U.S.' first Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls for training and organising waste-pickers and eliminating child labour from recycling.

The State Department said the Secretary's Innovation Award has been given to Chintan in support of its work to reduce ecological footprints and increase environmental justice among the informal sector through green jobs, advocacy and organising.

Read the rest of the article in The Hindu at

16. Victory for Spirit of Youth NGO in Cairo, Egypt

2012-02-23 13:10

After three years of discussions, debates, legal advice, and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, the Spirit of Youth NGO representing Cairo’s recycling communities has finally been given the green light to formally organize the capital’s garbage collectors and recyclers in a syndicate.

Read the rest of this article at

17. Tips for Waste pickers’ Organisations

2012-02-02 13:20

Given some success of waste pickers’ collectives in many cities, informal waste pickers have started to realize the importance of forming cooperatives. Apart from recognition by the surrounding community and by authorities, what do IWPAR really stand to gain from forming cooperatives and what steps do they need to take to form such cooperatives?

This article is the first of a series of articles that will be published in a newsletter regularly produced by the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers. The purpose of these articles is to offer tips to waste pickers and support organizations in their endeavour to form cooperatives.

Read this article at

18. Social Security in Burkina Faso : 2012, the year for voluntary insurance for all

2012-01-27 13:30

The National Social Security Fund (CNSS) in Burkina Faso wants to make 2012 the year of voluntary insurance for all. This would mean allowing all workers to subscribe, based on their monthly salary, to the CNSS in order to secure pension for the elderly or retirement pension upon reaching the age of 56 and after having paid subscriptions for 15 years…

Will informal waste pickers and recyclers benefit from this?

To find out more read the rest of the article in French in Agence de Presse LABOR at

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