A methodology and calculator tool enabling the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions that waste picker groups prevent. The tool, which was developed for waste picker organizations and their supporters, allows for the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions avoided through the following waste treatment methods: diversion of waste from decay in landfills and dumps; recycling; manual sorting and transportation; and diversion of materials from open burning.
Avoided emissions from decay in disposal sites
Colombia’s Association of Recyclers of Bogotá prevents the emission of 208,641 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year by preventing materials from decomposing in landfills.
By calculating the types and quantities of degradable materials diverted from open dumps and landfills, we can estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided.
Avoided emissions due to substitution of virgin raw materials through recycling
Argentina’s Amanecer cooperative prevents the emission of 49,533 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year by substituting virgin raw materials with recyclables.
Recycling prevents the use of virgin raw materials, thereby avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. By calculating the quantities and types of materials that waste pickers collect for recycling, we can estimate the amount of greenhouse gases avoided.
Avoided emissions from less energy-intensive transportation
India’s SWaCH cooperative prevents the emissions of 1,424 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year simply by operating manual pushcarts rather than conventional waste collection trucks.
By calculating the distances that waste pickers transport materials using manual equipment like pushcarts, we can estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by not using more energy-intensive forms of transportation, like trucks.
Avoided emissions from less energy-intensive sorting
Waste pickers in Dakar’s Mbeubeuss dumpsite prevent the emission of 258 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year simply by sorting materials manually instead of using energy-intensive sorting technology.
By calculating the amounts and types of materials sorted manually, and the energy expenditure of energy-intensive sorting, we can estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are avoided through manual sorting.
Avoided emissions from open burning
India’s SWaCH cooperative prevents the emission of 167,301 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year by collecting and preventing the open burning of waste in underserved communities.
By calculating the types and quantities of waste that waste pickers divert from open burning, we can estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided.
Total avoided emissions
USA’s Sure We Can estimates that canners in New York City collectively prevent the emission of 466,928 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year by recycling, and collecting and sorting materials manually.
The calculator accounts for the different ways that emissions are avoided and provides an overall total.
The Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Inclusive Recycling methodology was commissioned by WIEGO for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers as part of the Reducing Waste in Coastal Cities project, which is funded by Sida. The methodology was developed by Green Partners environmental consulting, and was tested by organizational members of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers.
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