Waste pickers are informal workers who collect, sort and sell materials for recycling or reuse. It is estimated that more than 20 million people around the world earn an income in this way.
Alongside our work to support communities who are most vulnerable to the impacts of plastic pollution, Tearfund's Rubbish Campaign is bringing together Christians around the world to call for the protection of waste pickers' human rights as governments negotiate a global treaty to end plastic pollution.
This treaty presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help people living in poverty by reducing global plastics production and ensuring a just transition for workers in the informal waste sector and communities in low- and middle-income countries who depend on plastic.
Justice for waste pickers and recognition of their vast experience and expertise need to be at the centre of treaty negotiations. This includes developing plans that support waste pickers and other workers in the informal waste sector to transition to better livelihood opportunities and ensuring waste pickers are involved in the decision-making that affects them.
Before rolling out bans on, or reductions in, plastic materials, or making changes to collection and recycling infrastructure, plans must be in place to ensure that waste pickers and other workers in the informal waste sector are supported to make a transition to better livelihood opportunities.
Waste pickers are able to collect the remaining plastic waste, through a requirement for producers to use highly recyclable materials and provisions on integration into collection schemes.
Waste pickers themselves should be involved in the decision-making processes for all of the above.
Help end this rubbish problem by calling for a plastics treaty to address fully the impacts of plastic pollution on those living in poverty.