Environment 360 shines spotlight on waste pickers, advocates against stigmatisation


…as it marks Global Waste Picker’s Day

By Juliet ETEFE 

In a bid to raise awareness and appreciate the invaluable contributions of waste pickers in the Tema area, Environment 360 holds a significant event marking Global Waste Picker’s Day.

The event served as a platform to honor the remarkable efforts of waste pickers and address the issue of stigmatisation they often face.

Waste pickers play a crucial role in environmental sustainability by collecting and recycling waste materials, thereby reducing pollution and conserving resources. Despite their vital contribution to society, waste pickers are frequently subjected to discrimination and marginalisation.

During the event, Ms. Matilda Asantewaa of Environment 360 highlighted the essential role the waste pickers play in keeping the environment clean and emphasized the need to recognise their efforts.

She further stressed the importance of supporting waste pickers and creating an inclusive environment free from stigmatisation.

Programme Manager at Environment 360, Ms. Selasi Charway-Glover highlighted the positive impact of the Pick-It Center—where her outfit manages— on waste pickers’ financial well-being.

Through support from the German Federal Ministry of Environment, a value-added system has been created, offering social benefits to waste pickers based on their collection and teamwork.

However, she emphasised the need for further support from government, private, and donor organisations to enhance working conditions and livelihoods.

Other recommendations include financial backing for technology and training, a transition to small-scale recycling, and formal recognition of the informal waste management sector by municipal assemblies.

Ms. Charway-Glover also advocated for expanding successful informal waste management models nationwide to boost sustainability efforts.

Waste pickers

Secretary of the Waste Pickers Association in the Pick it 2.0 project, Susana Klugah Hoedzoade, emphasized the need for strict supervision of waste management employees in the Tema Metropolitan Assembly and Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

She noted that many workers fail to collect swept waste, leading to untidy streets, highlighting the burden on waste pickers to clean gutters due to employee negligence and called for government support, including recycling equipment purchases.

She stressed the collective effort of waste picking and urged support for better working conditions.

Environment 360, established in 2014, aims to promote circular economies and sustainable job creation in both rural and urban areas.

Through the Pick It project, funded by IKI Small Grants BMZ and implemented by various German ministries in collaboration with Ghanaian authorities, efforts are made to reduce landfill and open burning of waste in communities.

The project provides waste pickers with incentives, storage, and technology to improve their businesses. Waste processed at the Pick It sorting center is sold to local recyclers or utilized in a circular innovation hub to create products like beads and flower pots.

Globally millions of informal sector workers are critical players in the creating circular economies.  In 2021, the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development project noted that 51% of waste collection in low-income neighborhoods is done by informal sector.

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