Waste pickers who are now known as Collection Pillars of Recycling (CPR) continue to get harassed, verbally abused, and mistreated by some in authority, and in some instances, told to hide or disappear when certain high-ranking figures, such as Government Ministers are visiting dumpsites and other locations where they are collecting recyclables.
Pacific Recycling Foundation founder, Amitesh Deo revealed this following their mapping exercise of the waste collection sector.
Deo in a statement said the mapping exercise has found that some municipal council officials sometimes demand money from the CPRs.
He said in one case, a CPR and his colleagues were told by the staff of a municipal council to hide in the bushes as a Government Minister was visiting the municipality and this incident happened earlier this year.
“To enter some dumpsites, CPRs are required to show a receipt, and the monthly fee varies based on the type of waste they collect that ranges from $12.00 to $25.00 and adding the financial burden faced by CPRs and these collection fees can significantly impact their livelihoods.”
“CPRs who are receiving Social Welfare assistance are not allowed to access certain dumpsites, further restricting their means of livelihood and independence”, Deo said.
Deo stressed it is important to note that these challenges are not applicable to all municipal councils as while some CPRs face mistreatment and harassment from the staff of certain municipalities, this does not reflect the attitude or ethical alignments of all municipal councils.
“I would like to acknowledge some municipal council who has created a very welcoming and warm environment for women Collection Pillars of Recycling who collect recyclables from dumpsites.”
“This municipal council registers the CPRs, allows them to use the washroom and water facilities, provides them with PPEs, and does not charge them any fees.”
Deo said more such findings will be revealed in the PRF’s mapping exercise report which will be launched in September 2023, where they will also reveal plans on how the Foundation aims to provide structured support to these individuals.
PRF continues to work with municipal councils around the country to change their mindset and behavior towards CPRs and help them understand and appreciate the critical work CPRs do to retrieve recyclables from dumpsites and the environment, which helps in combating climate change.