Waste Picker Cooperatives in Developing Countries

Martin Medina
  • Place of Publication: Ahmedabad, India

Paper prepared for WIEGO/Cornell/SEWA Conference on Membership-Based Organizations of the Poor, Ahmedabad, India, January 2005

This paper gives a comprehensive picture of the situation of waste pickers in developing countries. It is argued that waste pickers lose a significant amount of profits to middlemen who sell the recyclables to industry and that by establishing cooperatives waste pickers can circumvent the middlemen and increase their profits. The study introduces several cases where waste pickers have successfully established cooperatives in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Philippines, India, and Indonesia, where the members of the cooperatives benefitted from increased incomes. In some cases it was mentioned that a cooperative was also providing welfare services such as scholarships and insurance. Furthermore, the cooperatives helped to dignify waste picker activities. One of the most important lessons learned from these studies is the importance of NGOs in assisting waste pickers to establish cooperatives.

Informal Economy Theme
Informal Economy Topic
Occupational group
Publication Type