Global Plastics Treaty: Make it Bold, Make it Binding

Thanks to the tireless work of the #breakfreefromplastic movement and GAIA members around the world, last March, the United Nations Environment Assembly decided on a mandate to create the world’s first Plastics Treaty, a legally binding international law aimed at reducing plastic pollution worldwide, covering the full life-cycle of plastic. This is a historic step forward in the fight against plastic pollution, and would not have been possible without a diverse movement of waste pickers, frontline community activists, and zero waste advocates demanding systemic change. However, there’s still a long road ahead–there will be a series of meetings through the end of 2024 during which the treaty will take shape. GAIA and our allies will be present for the entirety of the negotiations to make sure our issues are represented, but it will take continuing pressure from people all over the world to ensure that we get a strong treaty that meets the scale of the crisis. Such a treaty must include plastic reduction targets, eradicate toxics, exclude false solutions like incineration, scale up zero waste solutions such as reuse, and center a just transition for waste pickers and other groups at the frontlines of the crisis.


Reflections on the Close of INC-2

The second round of negotiations for a global plastics treaty concluded on June 2, 2023 in Paris, France. While there were many attempts by industry and certain countries to stall progress and the United Nations Environment Programme limited civil society’s voice, the fight for a strong global plastics treaty advanced to the next stage.


The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with representatives from Acción Ecológica México, Zero Waste Alliance Ecuador,, Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, Kenya National Waste Pickers Welfare Association, and Community Action Against Plastic Waste to provide perspectives from civil society organisations in the global south as the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution commences.


Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is compelled to respond to the harmful and damaging arguments published  recently in The New York Times opinion piece by The Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat. This article perpetuates the false narrative that the Global South is somehow to blame for the plastic pollution problem, and that expensive downstream approaches are our best tool to fight it–downplaying the necessity of reducing plastic production, which advocates and experts around the world are pushing for at the upcoming global plastics treaty negotiations next week in Paris.

Press Release: New UNEP Report Sparks Controversy Ahead of Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations

Civil society organizations, academics, and frontline groups are expressing their concern over the UNEP Spotlight report’s promotion of burning plastic waste in cement kilns as a key strategy in the design and implementation of the Global Plastics Treaty.


Press Release: Closing of INC-1

The first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded today with a mix of high and low moments, setting the stage for a two-year-long process that could result in one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history.

Press Release: Historic Recognition of Waste Pickers in Plastics Treaty Negotiations

The formation of a Group of Friends of Waste Pickers was announced on November 29, 2022 at the negotiations towards a global plastics treaty. This historic moment marks unprecedented recognition of the rights, skills, and importance of the informal waste sector; never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations.

Policy Briefs/Submissions

GAIA Submission Part B- Input on the Potential Areas of Intersessional Work to Inform the INC-3: Further Information

This submission provides detailed GAIA recommendations to orient intersessional work and global plastics treaty negotiations. It includes criteria and processes to set plastic production freeze and phasedown targets and schedules and their supporting measures, and a framework to identify high-risk plastic products and materials for priority action, as well as polymers and other chemicals of concern, among other issues.


GAIA Submission to INC-3 Part B: Roadmap for intersessional work


GAIA Submission on Treaty Scope and Principles

The future plastics treaty’s scope agreed in UNEA resolution 5/14 covers all plastics and all plastic pollution across the full lifecycle of plastics. In addition to the Rio Principles, human rights, the principle of prevention and inter-generational equity must also be reflected in treaty control measures and means of implementation. 


GAIA’s Key Demands for INC-2

This document is an overview of the key GAIA asks for INC-2. More detail can be found in the GAIA INC-2 submission


GAIA Commentary on INC-2 Options Paper

Read GAIA’s select comments on document UNEP/PP/INC.2/4 Potential options for elements towards an international legally binding instrument, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastics (Options Paper).


Plastics circularity: beyond the hype 

References to the “circular economy of plastics” and  “plastics circularity” have multiplied around the plastic treaty negotiations. This brief considers the following questions:

  • What is circularity – is it the same as recycling? 
  • Is circularity always good for the environment?  
  • For whose profit and at whose expense is plastic waste traded for “global plastics circularity”?
  • What are the challenges with plastic recycling, and what future does it have?  
  • What safeguards are needed for the rights of workers who collect and recycle plastic wastes? 

This document contains an overview of the status of the negotiations thus far, as well as a negotiations timeline.


Defining Plastic Products, Materials and Polymers: A Proposal

Adequate definitions of plastic products and polymers are needed in the global plastic treaty to capture the full range of sources of plastic pollution (November 2022).


The Pros and Cons of EPR: Lessons from France

In the context of the upcoming plastic treaty negotiations in Paris (INC-2, May-June 2023), Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes are often put forward as an essential policy approach to address the global plastic pollution crisis, especially as a source of funding and a way to incentivize redesign for reuse and plastic waste prevention. France is often cited as an EPR pioneer, particularly in the use of eco-modulated fees to encourage reuse and eco-design.

This paper draws lessons from France’s EPR experience in packaging and other sectors, and explores to what extent EPR schemes can truly promote reuse and other eco-design, reduce low-quality recycling and plastic burning, as well as effectively fund the costs of the plastic pollution crisis.


Submission to INC-2

Read GAIA’s key recommendations for INC-2 from May 29-June 2 2023.

Submission to the INC Process on Plastic Pollution July 15, 2022

GAIA’s recommendations for the negotiation process towards a global instrument on plastic pollution.

Issues in Focus

Plastics Crisis: Challenges, Advances and Relationship with Waste Pickers

Negotiations must include the recognition of the historical work of those who have recovered more materials and in the most efficient way: the waste pickers.

Rommel Cabrera/GAIA, 2019. Waste pickers collecting separated waste from households. Tacloban City, the Philippines.

Overview of the Plastics Treaty/Tratado sobre plásticos

Plastic pollution does not respect borders. It is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and even in our bodies. A new binding legal instrument, covering the entire lifecycle of plastic, is required to tackle this planetary crisis.


The Plastic Waste Trade

Top exporters such as the United States, Germany, the UK, Japan and Australia are placing a disproportionate toxic burden on the environment and communities in importing countries. A Global Plastics Treaty can enact stricter measures on the waste trade to prevent environmental injustices.


Plastic and Waste Pickers/Recicladores

Plastic takes up a large percentage of the waste handled by waste pickers. Consequently, they are one of the most vulnerable occupation groups that stand to be impacted by the global plastics treaty. The treaty must establish the legal frameworks required to improve working conditions for waste pickers.


Toxics and Health

Plastic contains toxic chemicals that leach into our food, water, and soil. Out of about 10,000 chemicals used as plastic additives, few have been widely studied, let alone regulated. A treaty must address plastic’s toxic burden.


Plastic and Climate Change/Los plásticos y el cambio climático

Plastic is a significant contributor to climate change throughout its lifecycle. By 2050, emissions from plastic alone will take up over a third of the remaining carbon budget for a 1.5 °C target. A plastics treaty must impose legally-binding plastic reduction targets.


Chemical “Recycling” and Plastic-to-Fuel

Faced with increasing pressure from lawmakers and civil society to reduce plastic production and greater awareness of the limits of mechanical recycling, the petrochemical industry has been peddling chemical “recycling” and “plastic-to-fuel” as a primary solution to plastic pollution. However, after billions of dollars and decades of development, these approaches do not work as advertised. A plastics treaty stands to be undermined if it embraces these industry-backed false solutions.


Waste Incineration and Burning Waste in Cement Kilns

Burning waste emits climate pollution and other toxic chemicals, and is the least energy-efficient and most costly method of energy production. A plastics treaty must adopt a moratorium on new incinerators and encourage a roadmap to phase out all existing incinerators by 2030.


Burning Waste in Cement Kilns

Burning plastic in cement kilns results in toxic emissions, threatening the health of workers, communities and the environment, especially in low-income countries in the Global South. Widespread burning of waste in cement kilns would also worsen the already devastating carbon footprint of the cement industry. A plastics treaty must phase out burning plastic waste in cement kilns.


Plastic Neutrality and Credit

The global plastics treaty provides an important opportunity to officially discourage or ban the use of plastic credits before they become widespread. Doing so would avoid the incredible amount of regulatory oversight needs —both in the private and public sectors— to organize and
manage international plastic credit markets. The collective efforts could be better spent on reducing plastic production rapidly.


Zero Waste Finance

A transition from a plastic-reliant economy toward a circular zero waste economy requires effective mobilization and allocation of financial resources. Public and private finance have distinct and intersecting roles to play in supporting and scaling up innovations for waste prevention, redesign, alternative delivery and reuse systems as well as improving existing waste collection and recycling systems.


Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies seek to improve the environmental and social performance of products by holding producers and brand owners accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products. The global plastics treaty must embed well-designed EPR policies in it, guiding producers to prioritize upstream solutions.



The global Plastics Treaty must focus on plastic reduction and reuse, instead of substituting a plastic single-use item for a bio-based, biodegradable, or compostable one.


Communities hold a Day of Action Against Incineration as the Asia Clean Energy Forum goes underway

Manila, Philippines – June 13, 2023 – Representatives from affected communities and activists held a Day of Action Against Incineration on the first day of the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) in front of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Manila Headquarters to demand International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and governments to end support for Waste-to-Energy (WtE) incineration in the region.

“ADB must stop funding pollution, loss of livelihoods, and climate change. ADB is the leading IFI providing public financing and leadership for the promotion of WTE incineration in the region which merely denies real, viable clean energy alternatives as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, ” Miriam Azurin, Deputy Director of GAIA Asia Pacific said. 

In 2019, a UN report estimated that around 1,120  incinerators or 30 percent of the global number of incinerators are in Asia Pacific, mostly  in Japan, China, and South Korea. By the end of  2023, around 200 incinerators promising to convert energy from waste are projected to be constructed and operated in the region, particularly in China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Myanmar

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner, emphasized that numerous studies have already proven that WtE is an environmentally hazardous method for both energy generation and waste disposal. “Incinerators with or without energy recovery release harmful pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals, microplastics, greenhouse gases, and other toxic residues. Many of these pollutants are poorly regulated or not regulated at all, posing risks to environmental protection and public health. Additionally, incineration is a carbon-intensive and energy-intensive process that heavily depends on fossil fuels for operation.”

Recognizing the detrimental effects of WtE incineration, the European Union (EU), despite its advanced technology and monitoring systems, has excluded burning waste as part of the transition towards a circular economy, highlighting that it does significant harm to its environmental objectives of waste prevention and recycling. 

Activists protested ADB’s use of public funds for changing energy and waste policies, climate action plans, and financing the construction and operationalization of  interventions for WtE incinerators against global shifts from fossil fuels and WtE incinerators. Studies show incinerators are four times more carbon-intensive than coal. 

In the Philippines, the ADB was instrumental in providing policy advice in favor of WtE which undermines the national ban on incinerators as stated in the Clean Air Act. It also provided support for marketing and assisting local government units to accept and review bids through various technical assistance projects. Cebu City was one of the recipients of technical assistance from the ADB which resulted in an increased number of WtE incinerator proposals endangering the City’s protected areas and communities. 

Not just, nor a transition

GAIA also cited dangers and greenwashing in ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism,  a funding vehicle to finance the early retirement or repurposing of old coal-fired power plants and use the proceeds for clean energy development where WTE incinerators are seen as a transition fuel.  

Azurin said that communities previously and currently exposed to the impacts of coal plants should not be exposed to further harm by reinventing old coal power plants to WTE incinerators. She also mentioned that WTE incinerators will have to operate at the same scale in which the coal power plants have been previously designed. Other uses for these old coal power plants that do not continue the injustice for affected communities and intensive carbon emissions must be developed. 

Fuelling injustice

WTE’s inherent dangers are also magnified by IFI’s push for privatization schemes which effectively relinquishes the government’s responsibility in an essential public service. 

Teody Navea of EcoWaste Coalition and Cebu Coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice said the series of technical assistance support of ADB to prepare the entry of the private sector WTE industry in the Philippines contravenes and subverts the prevailing ban on incineration under the Clean Air Act (RA 8749). Just in Cebu, there are already four proposed WyE plants in the pipelines despite the ban. According to Navea, there is a severe lack of meaningful consultations to integrate communities’ and local experts’ insights on risks associated with the projects and examine practical alternatives. 

In the majority of  WTE project sites, borrowers do not hold meaningful consultations to raise environmental and social concerns and examine real alternatives. 

“WtE incinerators also displace waste pickers and workers from the waste supply chain both physically and economically. Waste-burning facilities are often built at landfills and in so doing, uproot waste pickers from their communities and deprive them of their source of livelihood. This will happen for at least two decades once a plant is operational and will suck public funds away from improving their livelihood,” Azurin explained.

 “IFIs, including the ADB, should stop investing in technologies that are not only harmful to the environment but are also against people’s fundamental rights to health and livelihood. Support for waste incineration is against the goal of a just energy transition that the bank proudly claims it champions,” she added. 



Media Kit

Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer | | +63 917 596 9286 

Mayang Azurin, GAIA Asia Pacific Deputy Director | | +63 945 319 0186

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific Climate and Clean Energy Officer | |  +62 821 2818 4440

By Asiphile Khanyile, Waste Campaigner, groundWork South Africa

Over the recent years, zero waste has become an important vision and action that defines how waste is managed. Zero waste is a game changer and an opportunity that plays an important role towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which accelerates climate change. Fundamentally, zero waste asks us to change actively, collectively and inclusively in the manner in which waste should be managed.  Hence, the definition of zero waste by outlined by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials without burning, and without discharges to land, waste or air that threaten the environment or human health”, and it compels us to look at the entire lifecycle of waste which is; extraction, production, consumption, collection and disposal.

Reading the definition above, my mind immediately zooms into the waste pickers that are central to a zero waste system. Luckily for me, I have had the privilege of working with waste pickers on the ground and that has enabled me to delve deeper into their world.

Firstly, in a zero waste system waste pickers are recognised as an integral part because of their significant contribution towards saving landfill airspaces, diversion of recyclable materials, keeping the recycling value chain viable and climate change mitigation. Hence, this definition mentioned above opens up an opportunity for us to continue to engage and work with waste pickers. Since 2021, I have worked with waste pickers through groundWork (gW), Warwick Zero Waste Project (WZW) and the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), I have learned that waste is source of livelihood for waste pickers and they are also people whom hold a pool of knowledge about the recyclable materials. As part of civil society, we have recognised that waste pickers are fundamental to a zero waste system.

The questions ask with waste pickers is ensure that they are not exploited, stigmatised, harassed and excluded. How do we continue to educate our communities about the relationship between zero waste, climate change and waste pickers?

Every time, I do my work these are some of the questions that ramble through my mind. Some of the answers  to these questions were from the several visits I had in the months of February, March and April 2023, as gW we engaged waste pickers from a buy back centre, landfill and on the streets (Free State, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal). From my experience in Warwick and the visits, I have noticed that it is about working collectively, opportunities that foster active participation and engagements, infrastructural support by government – and even the private sector, and capacity support and building for waste pickers that will create the opportunity for waste pickers thrive in clean, dignified and safe spaces in order to make their work easier. Mostly, importantly, in some of the visits I saw tons of recyclable materials that could have ended up in landfill, dumpsites or even into the natural environment, diverted.

Hence, I was reminded that for zero waste to work it should ideally NOT be capital intensive, high tech and exclusionary. Instead, for zero waste to work it should be easily accessible, inclusive, low cost and tech and viable, and have at the heart of the process, waste pickers.


By Ubrei-Joe Maimoni

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has focused its efforts on promoting our zero-waste model more vigorously. The model has great appeal and enables the potential for a shift from plastic utilization and a move towards separation at source, composting, recycling, and waste reduction mechanisms in communities where the model is situated.

The initial process was initiated in 2021 in Edo and Akwa Ibom States, Nigeria. As a result of our work with our Zero Waste Ambassadors in 2022, we are excited that plans have been put in place to start similar schemes in four additional states, these include Delta, Lagos, Bayelsa, and Plateau. This will bring the total number of states we are working in, to six.

The project has successfully created three critical structures; it includes the Zero Waste Ambassadors; the Waste Parliament, which is an informal structure but the decision-making organ of the project; and the Zero Waste Academy, which is the platform for strategic capacity building.

Participatory decision-making:

Our organization introduced participatory decision-making in the waste management sector as part of this project. This recognizes the rights of impacted host communities to waste dump sites, and it also recognizes waste pickers. Participatory decision-making is enabled through an effective waste policy option, which is done by collaborating with a coalition of Zero Waste Ambassadors.

Zero Waste Ambassadors:

In 2022, the Zero Waste Ambassadors were trained by a Waste Parliament (WAP) before they were deployed as an alliance-building group that connects grassroots movement-building to a global coalition. Their presence is a critical strategy for strengthening waste management advocacy, and they demonstrate the need to adopt and practice zero waste to communities and relevant government agencies. So far, the Zero Waste Ambassadors have been in touch with some very important communities that are hosts to waste dumpsites including Akpayak and Otofure in Akwa Ibom and Edo states, respectively. The communities in Akwa Ibom and Edo States, especially those hosting the dumpsites for the waste generated in urban areas of the project states, are very vital to driving the solutions that our project aimed to bring to the table.

Working with key communities:

Identified communities in this project reside close to waste dump sites. They face a lot of challenges, such as disease outbreaks, ground and surface water pollution, air pollution, and pathogen invasions. We facilitated community dialogues, which gave members of these communities the opportunity to contribute to achieving zero waste.

Four community dialogue sessions were held during the entire duration of the project. On the 9th and 17th of September, two community dialogues were held at Otofure and Akpayak communities in Edo and Akwa Ibom States, respectively, which represented phase one of the community dialogue sessions held. Before then, an advocacy visit was paid to the clan heads of both communities by the project team members to inform them about our project and the activities in the communities. These visits were made to obtain their buy-in (consent) for the project. The second phase of the community dialogues was also held in Otofure and Akpayak communities on February 16th and 8th, 2022.

Zero Waste Academy:

During this project, four sessions of our Zero Waste Academy were held every quarter of the year in Benin City and Uyo, with a total of 91 stakeholders. Through the academy, ERA/FoEN trained and graduated many stakeholders from diverse sectors, including industries, government, CSOs, academic, religious, and community-based organizations.

Waste Parliament:

Our Waste Parliament brought government stakeholders to sit in the same room with the community, waste pickers, church, and non-church actors to discuss and develop strategies for the effective implementation of zero waste plans. The parliament further evaluated the progress made in the waste management sectors in both states. Four parliaments were organized, two parliaments per state, with the initial target of reaching out and engaging with eighty people. One of the high points of this activity was using the parliament to unite the GAIA Nigeria team and impact policy change in the waste sector, which was achieved.

We successfully integrated informal workers into the zero waste advocacy actions as a way to effectively engage with policymakers. ERA/FoEN contributed to waste management policies in Edo and Akwa Ibom States through the development of zero-waste advocacy materials, which were distributed to relevant government stakeholders to assist them in waste management decision-making.

The ERA/FoEN team also visited the relevant government actors and opened the channel of communication to the members of the Zero Waste Ambassadors, who now engage with policymakers in both states. The formation of the Zero Waste Ambassadors and the Waste Parliament has proved essential in carrying the message of zero waste to the grassroots. Members of these networks have started step-down training on achieving a zero waste community. We have noticed changes in governments’ efforts to respond to and address the waste management crisis. For example, the Edo State government has declared a state of emergency in the waste management sector. The Akwa Ibom state government has equally taken some positive steps to decommission the dumpsite located at the Akpayak community village road, which had created a lot of tension in the state capital. We have seen the relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of various strategies used on the project in establishing key relationships and changing the attitudes of target beneficiaries. These have been achieved through the bottom-up, people-to-people zero waste attainment approach, which focused on supporting local-level cohesion with government and community-owned waste management and disposal mechanisms and linking communities with government and other actors where necessary.


Despite the impacts the project has had, we have observed that zero waste is a gradual process that needs time due to environmental and socio-economic factors. We also learned that diversity and inclusivity across divides, especially among marginalized groups, present opportunities for the voices and opinions of all groups to be incorporated into zero waste attainment. In 2023, we intend to incorporate these learnings into our plan. We will prioritize advocating for the implementation of the zero waste guidelines to support the reduction of single-use plastic packaging reduction efforts, plastic withdrawal from the environment using the expanded producer responsibility tools, and the banning of open dumping and incineration.

We look forward to more support for our work from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), including the regional and local chapters as well as the Break Free from Plastic (BFFP) that we worked with very well in the year under focus.



Las organizaciones firmantes queremos expresar nuestro férreo apoyo a las y los recicladores de base de Colombia, quienes en estos momentos ven su trabajo amenazado por el Programa Basura Cero en el Plan Nacional de Desarrollo.

El artículo 201 de dicho plan, incluye eufemísticamente el concepto “valorización de residuos”, sin especificar si éste excluye la incineración, situación que se presta para que quienes promueven las tecnologías de “valorización energética” aprovechen los vacíos en las definiciones e instalen sus sistemas que terminan destruyendo la fuente laboral de quienes viven del reciclaje, así como la calidad del aire, agua, suelo, y los alimentos que se produzcan bajo la contaminación de las instalaciones de incineración. 

Como organizaciones en la primera línea de los principios y estrategias basura cero, queremos enfatizar que todo programa que use este término debe mantener el foco primordialmente en reducir y prevenir la generación de basura. A nivel global y local, esto lo lograremos  mediante las siguientes acciones:

  • Invertir prioritariamente los recursos en la prevención de la generación y la disposición final de la basura, y establecer políticas que así lo mandaten.
  • Restringir al mínimo los productos desechables y buscar la forma de reemplazarlos por productos durables y reutilizables.
  • Desarrollar formas de distribución de productos sin el uso de envases desechables, en envases de materiales fáciles y seguros de reciclar o reinsertar en ciclos biológicos (devolviéndolos al suelo como nutrientes) al final de una larga vida útil.
  • Transformar el sistema productivo para que se fabriquen solo productos con durabilidad garantizada, reparables, realmente necesarios, y de materiales biodegradables o reciclables de manera segura.
  • Promover el desarrollo de economías locales que acorten las distancias entre quienes producen y quienes consumen, favoreciendo el uso de envases retornables y lavables y la venta de productos a granel.
  • Recuperar la soberanía alimentaria de los pueblos, cultivando alimentos sanos y libres de tóxicos para alimentar y no solo para lucrar, reduciendo al mínimo el desperdicio de alimentos y redistribuyendo los excedentes de comida antes de que pierdan sus cualidades nutritivas.
  • Cuando se generen residuos reciclables, estos deben ser gestionados de forma local, y preferentemente por las agrupaciones o cooperativas de recicladoras y recicladores de base. 
  • Reconocer el rol y la contribución de las y los recicladores de base en todo el sistema de manejo de residuos, proveyéndoles los medios para realizar su trabajo de manera segura y digna.
  • Evitar al máximo el uso de fibras sintéticas en la fabricación de ropa y textiles, reconociendo los daños que genera la sobreproducción de ropa a través de estrategias comerciales como el “fast fashion”. 
  • Detener la exportación de basura cuando ésta perpetúa el colonialismo, las injusticias y la inequidad. 
  • Eliminar la incineración de la basura -en cualquiera de sus formas- de los programas de gestión de residuos.

Instamos al Presidente de la República y al Congreso de Colombia a escuchar la demanda de la Asociación Nacional de Recicladores ANR, y hacer justicia a las décadas de trabajo de miles de recicladoras y recicladores de base que han sido el pilar de la recuperación de materiales para su uso en reemplazo de materia prima virgen desde la naturaleza, un beneficio para todas y todos, en especial para las futuras generaciones.

Valparaíso, Chile – Representantes de agrupaciones de recicladores de todo Chile se reunieron en Valparaíso en una jornada de dos días para  seguir fortaleciendo su red de acción y para ir a entregar su petitorio al congreso, con una marcha previa que pasó por el municipio de Valparaíso y la intendencia regional. 

Previo a un nuevo Día del Trabajo, la jornada de las y los recicladores es especialmente significativa, ya que 60 mil  personas se dedican a la labor de la recolección de materiales reciclables en el país, y si bien se ha avanzado en el reconocimiento del trabajo de los recicladores, la gran mayoría continúa desarrollando su trabajo en forma informal y sin remuneración por un servicio fundamental para el medio ambiente. 

Los recicladores se encuentran en un momento histórico para su gremio con la implementación de la Ley REP (Ley marco 20.920) y el Gran Sistema de Gestión Colectivo (Gransic), Soledad Mella, presidenta de la Asociación Nacional de Recicladores de Chile (ANARCH) señala, “Queremos dejarle claro al gobierno, pero sobre todo a los senadores y diputados que tienen que hacerse cargo de la implementación de un programa que realmente tenga una política de inclusión. Si esto no se incorpora, lamentablemente cualquier modelo de reciclaje en el país va a fracasar por no visibilizar a los actores principales de la cadena de reciclaje en Chile.”

El petitorio entregado contiene las demandas del gremio a nivel nacional  y regional, donde piden inclusión, dignificación, reconocimiento y un proceso de transición justa para ser parte de la gestión de residuos en Chile. 


1- Dar una respuesta integral a recicladores que trabajan aún en vertederos de todo el país
Se requiere de un plan de transición justa que genere un proceso gradual de cierre de vertederos y rellenos sanitarios, garantizando las fuentes de trabajo y oportunidades para quienes todavía dependen de estas instalaciones para subsistir.

2- Solicitamos dentro del reglamento de la Ley REP este el apoyo interministerial de manera integral
Para garantizar sistemas de reciclaje locales que contemplen terrenos, centros de acopio, maquinarias transporte y otros insumos necesarios para desarrollar nuestro trabajo.

3- Subsidios de transporte
Los recicladores de base necesitamos apoyo por parte del Estado, para poder garantizar transporte subsidiados que permitan mejorar las condiciones de comercialización y competencia de nuestros trabajadores.

4- Apoyo estatal a la regulación de precios – Subvención a la asociación
Subvención estatal a los precios de los materiales reciclables para no ser víctimas de la especulación del mercado comprador que experimenta baja de precio excesivas y usureras de un 80% y más, sin recuperación justa, ocasionando la inestabilidad económica. De existir una regulación de los precios que impida la excesiva baja de ellos, podríamos tener una tranquilidad económica y poder aumentar las cantidades de reciclaje.

5- Flexibilización
En cuanto a las resoluciones sanitarias de nuestros transportes incluyendo los triciclos de tracción humana dentro de los medios de transporte de residuos.

6- Solicitamos la creación de un sistema de Fondo Solidario de Retiro para los recicladores
Nuestro oficio requiere de importantes sacrificios a lo largo de nuestra vida laboral. Muchos recicladores sufren problemas graves de salud y se ven imposibilitados de trabajar o de recibir una buena asistencia médica. Nos parece sumamente importante que el Estado pueda valorar y reconocer esta deuda histórica con un sector postergado de nuestra sociedad, solicitamos un sistema integral que de respuesta a nuestras necesidades en
materia de salud, pensiones, vivienda y educación entre otros derechos básicos.

7- Facilitar el acceso y la participación de recicladores y cooperativas en los proyectos y financiamientos estatales
Los distintos requerimientos impiden que desde nuestro sector podamos acceder o ser beneficiarios de proyectos y financiamientos. Los seremis, municipios y el estado elaboran concursos a proyectos sin tomar en cuenta a los recicladores de base, muchas veces certifican y capacitan a los recicladores de nuestro pais, pero no los consideran en la elaboración y ejecución de proyectos. Los recicladores tenemos experiencia en lo que hacemos por lo cual solicitamos poder participar en las distintas instancias de elaboración de proyectos y ejecución de ellos que estén vinculados a la gestión de residuos. Somos un actor fundamental en el reciclaje y el cuidado del medio ambiente.

8- Exentarse del cobro por reciclaje en las zonas extremas de Chile
En las zonas mas extremas del territorio nuestros recicladores deben pagar un impuesto por la venta de sus residuos a los intermediarios. Exigimos el fin de este cobro para mejorar la venta y fomentar el aumento de la recolección de material.

9- Indemnización por los servicios prestados por los recicladores de base en la recolección de residuos
Se debe reconocer y valorar el trabajo de todos los recicladores. Se exige el pago por todos los servicios de los recicladores en todas las regiones y en sus diversas instancias (logística, recolección y venta).

10- Establecer mesas de trabajo con Seremis, Gore, Municipios y dirigentes regionales de recicladores para buscar soluciones a las problemáticas de cada zona
En todas las zonas de chile existen problemas los cuales son particulares dependiendo de cada region. Por lo tanto, se propone levantar mesas de trabajo que sean establecidas en cada lugar con las autoridades.

11- Elaboración del catastro nacional de recicladores
La ANARCH logro identificar a recicladores organizados e independientes desde Arica a Punta Arenas por medio de fondos privados estableciendo una asociatividad de 5.000 compañeros. Consideramos que el estado debería subvencionar a la Asociación para la realización del catastro nacional para saber de manera certera la cantidad de recicladores que somos en chile antes de la implementación de la ley REP. Consideramos que al conocer la realidad de los recicladores permitirá avanzar en la verdadera inclusión.

12- Solicitar una mesa de trabajo entre los gobiernos regionales, municipios y ANARCH
Con el objetivo de establecer un compromiso de integración en los presupuestos de manejo de los residuos estableciendo un porcentaje para reciclaje.

13- Creación de una mesa público-privada
Para empezar a trabajar en los puntos ya enumerados y situaciones que vayan apareciendo.

Petitorio completo disponible aquí

Daniela Concha, directora ejecutiva Fundación El Árbol. ⓒ ANR Colombia.

Por Daniela Concha, directora ejecutiva Fundación El Árbol, Chile.

“¡Reciclaje sin recicladores es basura!”, es la consigna que había escuchado muchas veces en Chile, pero al escucharlo de la voz de cientos de recicladores colombianos, se siente y se vuelve una, la lucha desde el sur global por el reconocimiento y la real integración de los recicladores de base. El motivo y la fecha del encuentro no fue casual; la Asociación Nacional de Recicladores de Colombia (ANR) planificó su minga congreso anual para que coincidiera con la primera conmemoración del Día Internacional Basura Cero, el 30 de marzo, precisamente cuando el gobierno comienza a trabajar en un programa basura cero para el país. La ANR planificó su jornada para, en primer lugar, repasar y reafirmar los derechos ganados a través de los fallos de la Corte Constitucional y consensuar nuevos derechos y demandas en relación a la retribución de su servicio, y en segundo lugar, informar y capacitar sobre Basura Cero a sus asociados. Fue en ese espacio, donde desde Fundación El Árbol y Alianza Basura Cero Brasil, pudimos compartir con los recicladores provenientes de todas las organizaciones del país, los principales conceptos, principios y pilares Basura Cero que compartimos las organizaciones miembro de GAIA, y su esencial vínculo con los recicladores. 

Desde mi experiencia en Concepción, Chile, donde trabajamos con recicladores y recicladoras hace ya 10 años, poder observar y escuchar a sus pares colombianos fue tremendamente inspirador y aleccionante de que con constancia en la lucha y de la mano de buenos aliados, es posible ir consiguiendo las garantías mínimas para un trabajo digno. Pese a eso, nuestra realidad en Chile tiene una gran diferencia: los colombianos pagan su tarifa de aseo tal como se paga el agua o la luz, y es desde ahí de donde se obtiene la “tarifa de aprovechamiento” de los recicladores (el porcentaje que les corresponde por la cantidad de kilos de residuos que recuperan para reciclaje). En nuestro país, el 80% de los ciudadanos están exentos del pago de derecho de aseo (1). Eso nos tiene expectantes al día de hoy, a la implementación de la ley 20.920, donde las empresas responsables de poner productos con residuos en el mercado se harán responsables de financiar el reciclaje (más bien las cantidades fijadas en metas), y donde los recicladores, esperamos todos, serán contratados como cooperativas y podrán vender sus residuos a mejores precios. 

En Colombia el gobierno habla de las alianzas “público populares” para seguir integrando a mayores segmentos de la población en las acciones que se quieren llevar a cabo, por ejemplo las del programa Basura Cero. Es ahí donde los recicladores de la ANR observan cautelosos para que esto se cumpla sin dejarlos fuera, para que efectivamente sean un actor más con la misma participación y capacidad de decisión, y no simplemente un grupo al que se incluye por caridad. Allí es donde el movimiento chileno de recicladores coincide y comparte la misma preocupación, donde a solo meses (septiembre) que entre en rigor la ley 20.920, tenemos que estar todos atentos a la real integración de los recicladores. 

1  Evaluación de Desempeño Ambiental de Chile (OCDE, 2016)

Los recicladores de base exigen que el tratado incluya una transición justa.

Punta del Este, Uruguay– Hoy se anunció la formación del Grupo de amigos de los recicladores de base en las negociaciones del tratado global de plásticos. Este momento histórico es un reconocimiento sin precedentes de los derechos, las competencias y la importancia del sector informal de los residuos; nunca antes los países se habían comprometido formalmente a respaldar a los recicladores en el contexto de las negociaciones internacionales. El Grupo es un organismo voluntario formado por representantes de los Estados miembros de todo el mundo para garantizar que las voces de los recicladores sean escuchadas en las negociaciones del Tratado del plástico.

El anuncio se produce al inicio de la primera reunión del Comité Internacional de Negociaciones (INC-1) para establecer el texto del Tratado mundial sobre plásticos, que será el primer tratado jurídicamente vinculante para abordar la contaminación por plásticos, desde su extracción hasta su eliminación. La inclusión de los recicladores en las negociaciones da señales de que los países están reconociendo el rol fundamental que desempeñan los recicladores en la creación de soluciones a la crisis del plástico y, por tanto, deben ser reconocidos como partes interesadas clave en el proceso del tratado.

Between 12.6 & 56 million people work in the informal recycling sector, and in many places their efforts account for almost all of the materials recycled in their municipalities. Despite this, waste pickers often go unrecognized and/or compensated by their local governments, and work in undignified conditions.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, it is estimated that the informal sector provides 50-90% of the recyclable materials that are used by local industry or exported, yet only receives 5% of the profits.

Entre 12,6 y 56 millones de personas trabajan en el sector informal del reciclaje, y en muchos lugares sus esfuerzos representan casi la totalidad de los materiales reciclados en sus municipios. A pesar de ello, los recicladores a menudo no son reconocidos y/o compensados por sus gobiernos locales, y trabajan en condiciones indignas. En América Latina y el Caribe, por ejemplo, se calcula que el sector informal proporciona entre el 50 y el 90% de los materiales reciclables que utiliza la industria local o que se exportan, pero sólo recibe el 5% de los beneficios.

La principal demanda de los grupos de recicladores es desarrollar un plan de transición justa, que debe incluir una compensación adecuada por los servicios prestados, oportunidades de autoempleo, un papel clave en la cadena de valor del plástico y un papel en la creación y aplicación de políticas para acabar con la crisis del plástico a nivel local e internacional.

Soledad Mella, Presidenta nacional de la Asociación Nacional de Recicladores de Chile (ANARCH) – Secretaría de comunicaciones  RedLacre

“Es histórico ver que más de 19 países se alinean con la Alianza Internacional de Recicladores con delegados que pueden incidir políticamente en las decisiones, garantizando la participación de los recicladores en la negociación. Ahora ,el desafío más grande es que el proceso sea realmente vinculante y que tomen en cuenta nuestra demanda, que es una transición justa, que garantice la participación de los recicladores en toda la cadena del reciclaje y en cada negociación, y que las leyes que se implementen vean al reciclador como parte fundamental de la cadena de reciclaje.”

Adja  Mame Seyni Paye Diop – Vice presidenta de recicladores de Senegal

“Lo que espero de este tratado y de esta reunión es que se tengan en cuenta nuestros empleos. Para mí una transición justa es tener alternativas de trabajo para mantener a nuestras familias cuando llegue el momento de cerrar los vertederos.

Los grupos de recicladores exigen: 

  • Incluir una definición de Transición justa y una descripción de los recicladores en el proyecto de texto para las negociaciones.
  • Establecer un grupo de negociación dedicado a la transición justa.
  • Desarrollar  un informe que destaque la contribución de los recicladores al reciclaje y a la reducción de la contaminación por plásticos, en el que los recicladores harán sus contribuciones.
  • Apoyo financiero para asistir a las negociaciones internacionales.

Contacto de prensa:

Camila Aguilera, Comunicaciones GAIA América Latina | +56951111599

Durante tres días, 83 representantes de agrupaciones de recicladores base de todo Chile se reunieron en Santiago en su Primera asamblea nacional de delegados con el fin de seguir fortaleciendo su organización y presencia nacional.

En la jornadas de trabajo se presentaron las realidades de las zonas donde trabajan los recicladores, que cubren desde Arica hasta Punta Arenas, además se trabajó en levantar un petitorio nacional, y se realizaron talleres de capacitación realizados por GAIA, Latitud R, representantes de Banco Estado y del Sistema Integrado de Gestión (SIG).

Los logros de la ANARCH durante se vieron reflejados en la entrega de un reconocimiento a las 13 nuevas cooperativas que se han formado tan solo durante el último año. Además, se realizó un merecido y emocionante reconocimiento a las y los recicladores que han trabajado por más de 50 años en el oficio del reciclaje de base, entre los que se destacó con un homenaje a la trayectoria a José González de la ciudad de Talca por sus 60 años como reciclador. 

La asamblea terminó con una marcha hasta el palacio de La Moneda, donde los dirigentes de la zona norte, Carlos Miranda, de la zona centro, Soledad Mella y de la zona sur Jessica Mora, entregaron el petitorio nacional.

Algunos de los puntos del petitorio:

  • Dar respuesta integral a recicladores que aún trabajan en vertederos.
  • Que dentro de la Ley REP se garantice sistemas de reciclaje que contemplen terrenos, centros de acopio, maquinarias, transporte e insumos de trabajo.
  • Apoyo estatal a la regulación de presión del material reciclable.
  • Creación de un Sistema de Fondo solidario de retiro para recicladores.
  • Facilitar el acceso a los proyectos y financiamientos estatales.
  • Pago por todos los servicios prestados en la recolección de residuos.
  • Compromiso de integración en los presupuestos de basura comunal.

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