Cooperatives Cushion Catadores Against Worst of Pandemic

Sonia M. Dias, Ricardo Abussafy, Juliana Gonçalves

Key Points

  • Waste-picker cooperatives cushioned Brazil’s waste pickers (known locally as catadores) against the worst economic impacts of the pandemic because many had access to support, including through the country’s EPR system known as the reverse logistics systems.

  • All surveyed cooperatives participate in reverse logistics programmes. This may have been a determining factor in the rise in positive adaptive responses in the first half of 2021, because industries have developed various programmes to support cooperatives during the pandemic.

  • The cooperatives put COVID-19 protocols in place in the sorting sheds as soon as the pandemic hit Brazil early in 2020. This has helped ensure the safety of their members and has increased their credibility with local officials.

  • More than three-quarters (78%) of waste pickers in this sample were vaccinated against COVID-19. The survey showed a significant increase in the number of suspected as well as confirmed cases compared to the 2020 poll.

  • Ways of coping with the crisis include building capacity among waste pickers on COVID-19 prevention measures, fundraising campaigns to strengthen waste pickers’ work and technical assistance for the operation of catador cooperatives.

Occupational group
Informal Economy Theme
Resource Type