Strengthening Waste Picker Organising in Africa

Waste pickers from South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco and Zambia have demonstrated the common need for official recognition from national and municipal governments, better working conditions, PPE, improved payment for their recovered materials and collection and processing service, and an end to social stigmatisation.

The experience of organising shows that these needs are achievable through building representative organisations that will ensure that their voices are heard in negotiations with governments and demonstrate their value to society.

This requires waste pickers to work collaboratively and embed the principles of democracy, equality and environmental justice in their organised structures. Furthermore, municipalities and national governments need to recognise the value that waste pickers play in diverting waste from the landfills, encouraging recycling where materials re-enter the economy and addressing poverty by providing an income for individuals that have been excluded from the formal economy.

This webinar shares new information about how, after China’s import ban, plastic waste trade is harming communities in Southeast Asia. Experts also talk about how the worldwide movement Break Free From Plastic is demanding action towards the real solution to the plastic crisis.

“Recycling without recyclers is garbage”. This phrase, which echoes throughout wastepicker or “informal recycler” organizations in Latina America and The Caribbean, is essential when it comes to planning any waste management policy in a region which has around 4 million people working in the collection and processing of recyclable materials.

Boulder, Colorado is known for its deep-rooted commitment to the natural environment and healthy living. But landfilling in this region is really cheap— less than half the national average. Achieving higher recycling rates here takes more than just a population that cares. It takes strong city government leadership, combined with strategic community partners, to build a successful Zero Waste model. Together, Boulder is making it easy for every resident and business to recycle and compost, and developing the innovative infrastructure to reach a Zero Waste future.

Already a statewide leader in reducing waste—with the goal of a recycling bin at every home, business and apartment—Arlington County still wanted to do more. In 2015, the County became the first community in Virginia to pass a Zero Waste resolution, citing the action as a way to “deepen their commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle,” as well as a way to protect the County against escalating disposal costs.

Addressing the global plastic crisis is not a walk in the park, but Kamikatsu, in Japan, proved to the world that it could be done by emphasizing the concepts of reduction and reuse, and making recycling creative and fun.

San Francisco has established itself as a global leader in waste management. The city has achieved 77 percent waste diversion, the highest in the United States, with a threepronged approach: enacting strong waste reduction legislation, partnering with a like-minded waste management company to innovate new programs, and working to create a culture of recycling and composting through incentives and outreach.

Missoula, Montana, United States, is a scenic college town and outdoor mecca, boasting five mountain ranges, three rivers and an extensive recreational and commuter trail system. While Missoula is known for its strong passion for the outdoors, the city lags far behind on recycling, recovering only 20% of its waste. A citizen-led movement is working hard to create a waste-free future. Thanks to this citizens’ partnership with City government, the Missoula City Council passed the first Zero Waste resolution in Montana in 2016 and is working on some big improvements.

Recycling is the right thing to do, but we need to make it safe for recycling workers. Recycling is a key approach for waste reduction and climate action that is used by cities across the U.S. with enormous environmental and economic benefits. But a new report finds that the actual work of sorting recycling can be unnecessarily hazardous to workers’ health and safety.