Each year, eight million metric tons of plastic pour into the world’s oceans caused largely by ineffective solid waste management systems of rapidly urbanizing coastal cities in developing countries. The situation would be even more dire without the efforts of millions of waste pickers, many of whom operate in the informal sector.
They collect and recycle materials that would otherwise go into landfills and illegal dumpsites or leak into the environment. “Despite their absence from most urban-development plans, waste pickers remain some of the most effective, affordable, and necessary waste managers and recyclers on earth, protecting both land and sea,” according to Taylor Cass Talbott, Reducing Waste in Coastal Cities Project Officer with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing & Organizing.
Despite their contributions, waste pickers often find themselves marginalized, stigmatized, and unappreciated, laboring in difficult, unsafe conditions and without adequate protections. As part of our broader efforts to combat ocean plastics pollution, USAID is supporting waste pickers across Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
USAID’s Municipal Waste Recycling Program is providing training and equipping waste collectors, strengthening Independent Waste Collector organizations, and supporting their advocacy efforts.
Link to Photo Essay.