For the urban poor in developing countries, informal waste recycling is a common way to earn income. There are few reliable estimates of the number of people engaged in waste picking or of its economic and environmental impact. Yet studies suggest that when organized and supported, waste picking can spur grassroots investment by poor people, create jobs, reduce poverty, save municipalities money, improve industrial competitiveness, conserve natural resources, and protect the environment. Three models have been used to organize waste pickers: microenterprises, cooperatives, and public-private partnerships. These can lead to more efficient recycling and more effective poverty reduction.
Waste pickers can be seen at work around the world. In developing countries about 1 percent of the urban population—at least 15 million people—survive by salvaging recyclables from waste (figure 1). The factors that “push” people into waste picking are fundamentally economic. Many poor people, faced with a choice between starving or waste picking, choose the latter.
To learn more about this sector, visit Solid Waste Public Private Partnerships.
Ref: Gridlines-44-Informal Recycling - MMedina