Demanding recognition for “waste workers”

Informal recovery workers collect reclaimable materials by opening garbage bags in the street, while formal workers who work in collaboration with the City Council and NGOs pick up bags of recyclable waste directly from households. This distinction between formal and informal activity derives from the “Recycler’s Law”, voted in October 2009, which sets a framework for the formalization of this work. Some recovery workers built on this experience to create their own micro-companies, that purchase and transform recyclable waste materials before those are shipped to China or the USA. This photo was taken during a visit of one such pre-processing facility, run by Peruvian NGO Alternativa. The smile on the face of this worker, who is in charge of cleaning bottles, testifies to the gradual recognition achieved by waste work and to people’s hopes in the sector’s formalization.

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