NEWS

Informal Waste Pickers Get New Name To End Stigma

Pacific Recycling Foundation founder and Director of Operations Amitesh Deo said the Pacific Recycling Foundation provided support to the Collection Pillars of Recycling.
21 Jul 2022 11:25
Informal Waste Pickers Get New Name To End Stigma
Stakeholders from the Lautoka City Council, Pacific Recycling Foundation, Waste Recyclers Fiji and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with members of the Collection Pillars of Recycling on July 19, 2022. Photo: Pacific Recycling Foundation

A new name will hopefully bring an end to the stigma associated with waste pickers.

Effective from July 19, a total of 30 registered individuals engaged in informal waste picking now known as Collection Pillars of Recycling.

The Lautoka City Council, Pacific Recycling Foundation, Waste Recyclers Fiji and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have coined the new name.

 

The announcement took place at the Lautoka City Council Chambers on Tuesday July 20, 2022. 14 Lautoka-based female members of the Collection Pillars of Recycling were present. The women also received protective gear to keep them safe while sorting through waste materials at the Vunato landfill site.

Pacific Recycling Foundation founder and Director of Operations Amitesh Deo said the Pacific Recycling Foundation provided support to the Collection Pillars of Recycling.

Last month a workshop organised with IUCN, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Pacific Recycling Foundation was attended by most of the women.

 

“The workshop was about human rights, gender, legal literacy, financial literacy and one of the key findings in that workshop was the stigma attached to waste pick- ing and one of the contributors to the stigma was the name ‘informal waste pickers.”

IUCN Climate Change Co-ordinator Paul Katirewa said many of the women engaged in the assortment and collection of mixed waste were exposed to very toxic waste and conditions

“So, women especially, you are challenged because if you are injured or unwell, you will not be able to attend to your families as well,” he said.

“That’s why it’s really important for you to be safe in the working environment. So, providing you access to protective gear, footwear, masks, gloves, is going to benefit you and that trickle down to your families as well.”

 

Lautoka City Council Manager Health Services Rouhit Karan Singh said the programme was piloted at field 40 in Lautoka in 2010, however the recycling rate was 30 per cent eventually dropping to 3 per cent within two years

“I will say on a monthly basis you are collecting 30 to 40 per cent of the waste as recyclables at the land- fill site,” he said.

Collection Pillars of Recycling member, Asenaca Loli, said this would be the sixth year that she worked at the Vunato landfill site.

“We started with cane cutting. I used to watch these ladies who were waste pickers so I wrote to the council requesting to be a member,” she said.

The mother of five said she spends around eight hours in the Vunato landfill site sorting through cans, and aluminium materials or copper electrical wires which she cleaned and took to the waste recyclers to sell.

 

Feedback: salote.qalubau@fijisun.com.fj



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