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Latino Daily News

Thursday May 26, 2011

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Help Launch Innovative Recycling Program in Latin America

The Fundación Avina, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the IDB Group, the Water and Sanitation Division of the IDB, and The Coca-Cola Company, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today launched a regional program to integrate informal waste collectors into the formal recycling market.

The initiative brings together recyclers, consumer products companies, municipalities, educational institutions, and civil society organizations to discuss proposals and develop action plans for incorporating informal workers into local value chains. The program will make use of lessons learned from projects underway in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and other developing countries, and provide these experiences as models for stakeholders.

It is estimated that more than four million people in Latin America live on income earned from the collection of recyclable waste materials. These people, including entire families, work in unhealthy conditions with materials that may pose risks to health.

“It is critical to support the transformation of the market and the organization of informal recyclers to improve their economic and social situation,” said Nancy Lee, MIF General Manager. “Greater coordination among recyclers, businesses and municipalities will improve the quality of life of people engaged in this business.”

The program seeks to improve the socio-economic status of waste collectors, involve the private sector as an active partner in facilitating their access to the formal market, and improve the regulatory framework to facilitate market functions.“Despite their key role in a new market such as recycling, informal waste collectors and their families remain isolated from society and the economy,” said Valdemar de Oliveira Neto, Fundación AVINA’s Director of Continental Initiatives. “This project will enable us to bring together all stakeholders to create an environment that respects their work, demonstrating that it is not only honorable, but also valuable to society.”

In some cases, informal collectors are responsible for recovering up to 90 percent of recycled consumer products materials. But the benefits they receive represent only a very small percentage of the value generated in the value chain. Several initiatives have proven that benefits flowing to these collectors increase through their participation in inclusive businesses sponsored by multi-sectoral alliances.