We’ve dug into the volatile recycling market quite a bit lately, but mainly focused on it impact on large companies in the United States. Imagine if you’re cashing in recyclables that you’ve picked out of the trash to feed your family. Many of the world’s poorest people do just this, and these waste pickers are also hit hard by the shifting markets for recyclable materials. Unlike “Big Waste,” these people often have no access to information about better prices they might receive, so they’re stuck selling the materials they collect to the buyer they know, and taking whatever they’re offered.
Ontario-based non-profit Plastics for Change is trying to give waste pickers access to the information they need to sell the materials they collect at the best price available. As many in the developing world do have access to mobile phones, the organization is developing a mobile platform that gives waste pickers access to information they need to be able to bargain effectively… or go to another buyer who may offer a better rate. The video above provides more details on the development of the technology, and its potential impact.
This is a good reminder that a “market” really is just information: the more people know, the better able they are to act in their own best interest. This is also a good reminder that recycling isn’t just about blue bins and curbside pick-up: for millions around the world, selling recyclable materials provides a way to pay for the bare necessities of existence. Waste pickers are critical to keeping a handle on the movement of waste into ecosystems that impact all of us, such as streams, rivers, and oceans.
Plastics for Change is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund implementation of their mobile technology. If you’d like to help, check out the support levels and rewards their offering on the campaign page… and let us know if you do decide to pitch in.
Know of other efforts to support those recycling trash as a means of surviving? Share them with us…
via Recycling Today