Reciclaje Sostenible

The growing global awareness regarding environmental limits has raised the issue of waste on the public agenda. On the one hand it is not feasible to continue producing increasing amounts of waste with the negative environmental impacts of final disposal; and on the other, recyclables represent raw materials that can reduce the economic and environmental costs of processes without reducing product quality. At the same time, the world financial crisis has raised pressure on employment and demands more efficient business models and public policy.


In developing countries waste management has an additional social dimension: millions of waste pickers, informal recyclers who sift through garbage, taking to the streets on a daily basis to make a living. Despite their important contribution to the environment and economy, this extremely vulnerable group of workers is generally excluded socially, politically and economically.


Opportunities identified by AVINA and its allies
Contribute to the social and economic inclusion of millions of Latin American urban waste pickers into a sustainable waste management sector.


Shared strategy for action
Promote coordination among government, business and recyclers to produce a fair and democratic recycling industry that generates good jobs for waste pickers while at the same time maximizing benefits for the environment and society.

AVINA's contribution to this strategy is based primarily on:

  • Strengthening the recycling organizations formed by waste pickers
  • Broadening networks and national and international links
  • Integrating waste pickers in the recycling industry value chain
  • Incorporating waste pickers into public waste management systems
  • Promoting the participation of waste pickers in new green markets
  • Promoting inclusive public policies


International alliances
AVINA works with a network of 230 allies throughout Latin America, North America and Europe who approach recycling from different sectors and perspectives, and with whom we build common agendas, strategies and lines of action.

This network includes 60 members of grassroots recycling organizations associated with local and national movements in 15 countries, as well as the Latin American Network of Waste Pickers. It also includes 50 private sector allies, 90 civil society and technical support organizations, 20 public sector institutions and 10 academic partners.

Our main co-funding alliances to support this opportunity include:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the initiative “Organizing Waste Pickers in Latin America to Increase Social and Economic Inclusion" with a five-year USD 5 million grant.
  • Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB/MIF), Brazil's Ministry of Social Development, Coca-Cola Brazil, and ICCO, the inter-church organization for development cooperation, in the program “Cata Ação/Socioeconomic Integration of Waste Pickers" involving a joint investment of USD 7.9 million over a four-year period in five regions of Brazil.

Roberto Laureano Da Rocha, recycler and member of the Cooperativa de Reciclagem Unidos Pelo Meio Ambiente in Brazil, which has been salvaging and selling recyclable materials for 14 years.



Recycling Law in Peru
With the leadership of AVINA ally Albina Ruiz, and in alliance with the National Movement of Recyclers, local recycling associations, politicians and business people, in October 2009 the government of Peru enacted Law 29419, which recognizes the work of waste pickers, offers them formal status, and integrates them in the country's solid waste management systems. The law makes Peru the first Latin American country to enact legislation regulating the activities of urban recyclers. AVINA provided support in drafting the law.


Recycling and Climate Change
The coordinating role of AVINA enabled an alliance between the Latin American Network of Recyclers, recycling organizations in India, and the NGOs, Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), to promote recycling as a greenhouse gas reduction activity as part of international climate change agreements. AVINA supported the Latin American network’s preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, including the communications strategy, and logistics for their participation in strategic national and international events.


Brazilian President Launches the “Cata Ação” Program
More than 3,000 people, including 1,500 waste pickers from several countries and the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, convened at a grand exposition in São Paulo, Brazil. The event, organized by Brazil’s National Movement of Recyclable Materials Collectors (MNCR) and the Latin American Network of Waste Pickers, with financial support from AVINA, brought business people, government and waste pickers together. During the meeting AVINA signed an agreement of joint support for the “Cata-Ação/Socioeconomic Integration of Waste Pickers" project to be implemented in five Brazilian cities. AVINA is responsible for the program's national coordination, the objective of which is to roll out a model for the economic integration of waste pickers through professional training and social integration. Another result of the event was the creation of a USD 125 million line of credit for waste pickers and their cooperatives through Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development.


Strengthening National Coordination of Waste Pickers
In 2009 a number of waste-picker movements and national recycling networks in Latin America made progress in organizing and achieving public recognition:


  • In Ecuador the national network of 700 recyclers from 18 organizations and 10 provinces drafted a national strategy and action plan, an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination for the country.
  • In Chile the National Movement of Recyclers now represents 1,200 waste pickers in 12 communities throughout the country.
  • In Paraguay an inter-institutional roundtable was established, connecting 10 recycling associations representing 150 waste pickers from four municipalities within the metropolitan area of Asunción.
  • In Bolivia, the network of waste pickers from Santa Cruz now includes more than six organizations from around the country and was awarded the Medal of Municipal Merit by the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra for its contribution to the city's environment.


AVINA has been a strategic ally in all of these processes at the national, regional and global levels, providing a variety of services, financial resources, and assistance in building alliances with a variety of fellow investors.


Regina Da Silva, Marta Maria De Jesus, Rosângela De Aguiar and Ermenegildo Ramos Da Silva, recyclers of Brazil's Cooperativa de Reciclagem Unidos Pelo Meio Ambiente. Part of their work involves collecting, separating and transporting recyclable materials for subsequent sale.