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Theme: Informal Economy
Occupational Group(s): Waste Pickers
By Rosengren, Cole.

The Mutiara Trash Bank in Makassar, Indonesia is seen as a leading example of the expanding "trash banking" system. The country has 2,800 trash banks in 129 cities which serve 175,000 people.


A recent report by the organization Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing found government involvement makes a big difference in the lives of waste pickers. That could mean trash banks, grants for supportive programs or payment agreements with municipalities. In many cases people are already doing this work — which has environmental and social benefits.

Women Organising Around the World - Gallery The Guardian . (22 April 2016)

Women in informal work around the world are setting up unions and networks to create more security. NGO Wiego worked with Getty Images and the Hewlett Foundation to capture them.

Colombia Talking trash: Bogotá's recyclers fight for justice Deutsche Welle (DW) . (12 April 2016)
By Stern, Rachel.

Nohra Padilla was 7 years old when she began working at the foot of a municipal landfill in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. Every day, she sifted through mountains of trash to find plastic, metal and other scrap materials to sell, contributing to what had become her family's livelihood after fleeing violence in rural Colombia.

By Fahim, Kareem.

The intricate mural took shape over the past few weeks, little noticed at first, spreading across a harried quarter of Cairo where Egypt’s garbage collectors live, amid overflowing bundles of this overcrowded city’s trash.

By the time the painting was finished two weeks ago, it stretched across more than 50 buildings, making it the largest public work of art here anyone can recall. The mural, a circle of orange, white and blue in Arabic calligraphy, quotes a third-century Coptic Christian bishop who said, “If one wants to see the light of the sun, he must wipe his eyes.”

United States New York City Fights Scavengers Over a Treasure: Trash Nytimes . (20 March 2016)
By Maslin, Sarah.

The video begins with ominous notes from a piano and an image of crime scene tape. The camera pans to men hunched over garbage pails, sifting for bottles, and a stoop-shouldered woman towing a shopping cart full of cans. Some might feel sympathy for these collectors, but the video makes clear that the New York City Sanitation Department, which made the video and posted it online, wanted them to be seen as something else: common criminals.

“Scavengers are putting the Department of Sanitation’s recycling program at risk, by removing the most valuable recyclables,” a voice-over begins. “Nobody wants to be perceived of as picking on the little guy, but the lone scavenger is now an organized, sophisticated mob of scavenger collectives that systematically removes valuable recyclables,” it continues. “Recycling is the law. Scavenging is a crime. Don’t allow scavenging to steal recycling’s future.”

New research released today – ahead of International Waste Pickers’ Day on March 1 – highlights the role and impact of those who make a living from what others throw away. The study challenges the common view that waste pickers have no place in modern solid waste management systems.Waste pickers are among the most invisible workers in the informal economy and often work in deplorable conditions. The study shows how waste pickers in five developing countries play a role in keeping cities clean and highlights the challenges they face in recovering recyclable materials.


India What a waste! PuneMirror . (18 February 2016)
By Torgalkar, Varsha .

While the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has been proactive in distributing 9,30,000 green and white bins to its residents for segregation of wet and dry garbage, it seems the waste collectors are suffering from separation anxiety.

The collectors either do not collect waste in separate bags or they dump the garbage in the same container. Thus, compactors carry mixed garbage collectively to the Moshi depot for processing. "Even though ragpickers collect garbage separately, there is no system in place for separate transportation," said Suman More of the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) with which 350 ragpickers of PCMC are associated.

By Chaturvedi , Bharati .

For the past week, thousands of hapless East Delhi residents have had to wade through piles of garbage to get anywhere. The municipal workers entrusted with keeping the area clean are on strike because nobody has bothered to pay them. Even if residents manage to skirt the waste, they still have to smell it. The trash is everywhere and unclaimed.

This situation would have not come to pass had East Delhi put in place a decentralised waste management process. The waste would not have been handled in that singularly inefficient manner – transportation, collection and dumping or processing in a centralised way. Indeed, had decentralised composting, which is key to any decentralised system, been a part of everyday waste management in East Delhi, residents may have suffered much less.

By Rahman Sallah, Abdou.

The project also worked with young people and the waste pickers who work on unregulated dump sites. As well as organic fuel briquettes, the women learned how to turn plastic bags into paving slabs, although plastic bags were banned by the government in July, and fish and food waste into fertilizer, she added.

Malta Lawyer suspects plan to get rid of half of Valletta monti hawkers The Malta Independent . (5 February 2016)
By Schembri, Gabriel.

Monti hawkers suspect that the government plans to get rid of half of them, paying out €50,000 in return for giving up their licences.