Los Rifados de la Basura Campaign 

Los Rafidos campaign for waste pickers in Mexico City

In Mexico City, thousands of people work daily keeping the city clean, collecting waste from residents and recycling reusable materials. The work of these waste pickers is essential to maintaining the health of residents and the environment, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

While some working within Mexico City’s solid waste management system are unionized workers employed by the city government, at least 10,000 waste pickers are “volunteer” workers. These waste pickers are called "volunteers" for the following reasons:

  • They don't have a salary. Their only income is what they receive in tips and from the resale of recyclable materials. 

  • They do not have a contract or social security.

  • The government generally does not provide the necessary equipment, such as carts, brooms, uniforms, face masks, or gloves.

About the campaign

Los Rifados de la Basura Campaign CALLS ON THE PUBLIC to:

  • Keep in mind waste pickers do not receive a salary and tips are a major source of their income - tip them generously.

  • Separate waste from recyclables.

  • Designate bags containing sanitary waste with a special marking. 

  • Donate gloves, masks and antibacterial gel/soap to volunteer waste pickers. 

  • Call on the government to provide social security to volunteer waste pickers.

The campaign calls on the LOCAL AUTHORITIES to:

  • Formally recognize volunteer waste pickers.

  • Carry out a census of volunteer waste pickers.

  • Guarantee social security to all volunteer waste pickers.

  • Provide volunteer waste pickers with equipment, especially that needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Train volunteer waste pickers in the proper handling of waste, to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

  • Undertake an awareness campaign for residents on how to separate waste to avoid the spread of COVID-19

  • Recognize the contributions of volunteer waste pickers in norms, laws and policies on solid waste, circular economy and inclusive recycling, and guarantee waste pickers’ access to recyclable waste.

[in Spanish]

Mexico City's Sanitation Workers: meet María del Carmen Loza

Informal Economy Topic
Informal Economy Theme
Occupational group