Inclusive, Dignified and Productive Recycling in Oaxaca


The project promotes the recognition of the rights of informal recyclers (commonly known in Mexico as “pepenadores”) in Huajuapan de León, San Lorenzo Cacaotepec and Villa de Zaachila, Oaxaca. Based on the cross-sectoral collaboration between civilians, academicians, and the local government, we incorporated an ecosystem of actors and instruments with the objective of accompanying the development and professionalization of informal recyclers and promoting an environment of social, economic, and political certainty as well as strengthening and developing a local culture of solid waste management and recycling from a community perspective.

Vegetable gardens and Vermicompost as part of the Circular Economy and recycling

The inclusive recycling project integrates the experience of the Lombri-Acción Center project for the recovery of organic waste, which is used in the generation of hummus or vermicompost. The recovery of this type of waste in a productive cycle results in its use in vegetable and vegetable gardens, fed by the natural nutrients of hummus, suitable for human consumption, produced in the same community (Km 0 products).

General objective:

To promote the recognition of the rights of informal recyclers, their organization, and inclusion in municipal systems of urban waste management.

From their beginnings ten years ago, accompanying recyclers and the promotion of Inclusive Recycling have been the vertebral column of SiKanda, being the first organization in southwest Mexico to start consistently working with informal recyclers.

Inclusive recycling, more than focusing only on solving the problems brought by poor waste management, focuses on generating dignified work conditions so individuals committed to recycling may formally incorporate themselves in the municipal waste management system and safely perform the said activity.

Inclusive recycling is associated with good municipal waste management, especially in the stage of separation, classification, and evaluation of waste susceptible to recycling. Without this work, the contamination generated by the trash would worsen not only on environmental terms but also on terms of public health.

Through inclusive recycling it is achieved:

  • Generate a source of safe and dignified work for Recyclers.
  • Reduce pollution of the environment by generated MSW.
  • Extend the useful life of landfills.
  • Generate savings for the public administration for the waste confinement and recycling service.
  • Increase the percentage of recycling at the community level and improve community health.
  • Reduce the risks of contamination caused by the mismanagement of MSW both at the atmospheric level and at the level of contamination of rivers and subsoils.
  • Pollution derived from poor waste management has alarming environmental, social and economic impacts, in addition to directly contributing to the generation of greenhouse gases that deepen climate change. In Oaxaca, particularly, 1,635,716 tons of waste are collected daily. However, according to INEGI, only 56% of the population delivers their waste to the public service, while 35% burns it and the rest delivers it to other garbage dumps or dumps (INEGI, 2015, intercensal survey). Waste management represents up to 15% of the municipal budget. In Oaxaca, out of 570 municipalities, only 8 have sanitary landfills, the rest are open-air dumps.Today, the Inclusive Recycling project continues thanks to the Merced Foundation, and we have had the invaluable support of the ADO Foundation and the CitiBanamex Foundation. Thanks to the Inclusive Recycling project in the municipality of Huajuapan de León and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, an innovative model of urban solid waste management is being experimented, which provides for a sanitary landfill and the inclusion of trained recyclers and recyclers, who operate the process. of separation, recycling and final confinement of waste.The project has obtained national recognitions (National Award for Municipal Excellence 2015) and participation in the UN Economic Development Forum in Turin, Italy (2015) and invitation as speakers in forums such as the International Conference on Waste Management in Latin America (2017). He recently won the Transforming Mexico from the Local Award, UNDP Mexico (2019).The Inclusive Recycling project is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, since it recognizes an interrelation and causality between the problems associated with issues such as poverty, hunger, decent work and economic growth, the climate change and water (SDG 1, 2, 6, 8 and 13 respectively).

  • 55 recyclers from Huajuapan de León
  • 30 from the municipality of San Lorenzo Cacaotepec
  • 4 from the municipality of Villa de Zaachila

In the Municipality of Huajuapan de León the collaborators are: the Environmental and Social Management Department, the Integral Center for the Treatment of Solid Urban Waste (CITRESO), the Technological University of the Mixteca (UTM), and as a partner to the Asociación Civil de Recicladores CIEM Arcobaleno de México.

In the municipality of San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, the collaborators are: the Health and Ecology Department and the community’s Sanitary Landfill workers.

In the municipality of Villa de Zaachila, we have the collaboration of the Directorate of Ecology and Environment and workers from the Community Collection Center.

  • Workshops to strengthen the organization of waste pickers and their role as community environmental educators.
  • Training and strategies to increase the quantity and quality of recyclable materials handled by recyclers.
  • Workshops to improve the production and marketing of organic fertilizers.
  • Construction and improvement of collaboration agreements between stakeholders.
  • Infrastructure and adequate protection equipment for Waste Pickers.
  • Acquisition of 2 vehicles to implement Recycling Routes operated directly by recyclers in the municipalities of Huajuapan de Leon and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, Oaxaca.
  • Acquisition of 2 plastic mills to generate added value and reduce the volume of waste in the sanitary landfills of Huajuapan de Leon and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, Oaxaca.
  • 80 recyclers trained to identify different types of plastic for grinding and technical processes on handling, safety, corrective and preventive maintenance of plastic mills.
  • Formalization of a nonpartisan and autonomous organization that gathers the Informal Waste Pickers: the civil association “Centro Integrador Esperanza Mixteca Arcobaleno A.C.” (CIEM Arcobaleno de México A.C.)
  • Increase in Recyclers’ income from $ 50 pesos a day to an average of $ 150 pesos a day.
  • Training, work gear and accompaniment to 89 recyclers, 20 local authorities and 3 municipalities.
  • Improvement in the working conditions of the Waste Pickers, through investment in infrastructure and protective equipment (Waste recycling conveyors, shredder, gloves, boots, eye protectors)
  • Promotion of collaboration agreements between municipal authorities and groups of recyclers in 3 municipalities of Oaxaca.
  • Holding of the 1st Forum on Dignified, Productive and Inclusive Recycling in Oaxaca: towards the recognition of recyclers with a circular economy approach to our waste.

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