Copenhagen – December 7, 2009 – Fifteen million people worldwide make a living from waste picking. They collect, sort, clean and in some cases, process these recyclables, returning them to industry as an inexpensive and low – carbon raw material. Waste pickers are incredibly efficient recyclers – and can achieve recycling rates higher than 80%. Their recycling work reduces emissions up to 25 times more than incineration does. Waste pickers significantly reduce GHG (green house gas) emissions through recycling rates, and could further reduce emissions given proper support.
To secure this support, a waste picker delegation has come to COP15 to raise their concerns surrounding current climate financing mechanisms and to advocate for more just alternatives that are directly accessible by waste pickers. At the same time, waste pickers will recommend that waste disposal technologies (including incinerators, landfill gas and incinerator variants such as pyrolysis, gasification and plasma) that undermine their livelihoods and recycling, and should be excluded from the CDM and other climate funds.
“CDM is supporting incinerators that steal our paper and plastic. You do it on the pretext that you are protecting the environment, but that isn’t true as you are polluting the environment and taking away our livelihoods. So many CDM projects have failed in spite of the money coming to them – it is not ‘waste to energy’ it is waste of money!!”
Jaiprakash (Santu) Choudhary, Secretary of Safai Sena, Waste Pickers’ Association
Waste pickers demand a global fund that is “non market-based”, is administered by the UNFCCC and promotes social and economic inclusion. This fund should not only strive to reduce GHG emissions but also consider the social impact of climate change mitigation projects and how they can contribute to strengthening the livelihoods of workers in the informal economy. It should recognize the essential role that waste pickers play, promote their inclusion in solid waste management systems and prioritize giving them the funding that they need to continue their work on the frontline of climate change mitigation.
Ø To learn more about waste pickers’ experiences and to support fair and just solutions to climate change, visit our blog (http://frontlineagainstclimatechange.inclusivecities.org/index.html) and web pageshttp://www.inclusivecities.org/climatechange.html or http://www.no-burn.org/wp.
Ø Or view our press conference “Ecology Centre: Waste Pickers on the frontline of Climate” on demand from the United Nations Climate Change Conference website (www.unfccc.int).