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Organizations and academia have been working with the informal waste sector for decades, and awareness of both their plight and contribution to society is increasing. Waste pickers have begun to organize themselves worldwide—working together to improve their wages, health and living standards. In 2008, the third Latin American and first global waste picker conference was held in Bogotá, Colombia.  Additionally, while past government policy has treated waste pickers hostilely, communities have started to integrate collector groups into the solid waste management strategy.  The Inter American Development Bank, Gates Foundation, Coca Cola and AVINA have such a project underway in Latin America.

Stephen Goldsmith in the Power of Social Innovation writes: “We can solve social problems by providing clients (those in poverty) with positive incentives and treating them as active agents in the process.”  The traditional top-down service delivery model, he suggests, could be transformed by rethinking and shifting the power dynamic so that we create “civic entrepreneurs”; productive members of the community in charge of their own future. Progress towards such a sustainable model in the informal waste sector will require that national, regional and local government, multi lateral organizations, NGOs, waste-picker organizations and business/industry work together to share and establish contextual best practices, and create innovative, sustainable solutions.



Cason Family Foundation (CFF) as part of the Clinton Global Initiative Rethinking Waste Commitment has committed to provide platforms for collaboration of private, public, government and nonprofit organizations working in the informal waste management sector and waste pickers organizations with an emphasis to contribute to the process of empowering waste pickers in the low and middle income countries.


The three main goals of the Cason Family Foundation commitment are:

  1. Provide support for efficient sharing of knowledge and experience of best / worst practices from around the world

  2. Encourage businesses/industry to catalyze and to develop sustainable and feasible inclusive waste management models.

  3. Encourage sustainable and scalable strategies for integrating waste pickers into formal economy. Promote national and multinational companies to bring waste pickers into value chain:

    1. Gain local expertise

    2. New markets for products


Encourage improved governance, public policy and legal frameworks that create stability, fairness and transparency for enterprise.

Towards fulfilling these goals the Cason Family Foundation has committed to the development of the following initiatives:

  1. Informal Waste Management Sector Thinking Group - formation and coordination;
  2. Global Meta Knowledge Hub - establish, develop and coordinate;
  3. Corporate Sector Encouragement - towards development of informal waste sector inclusive waste management pilot programs in alignment with corporate efforts.
  4. Develop financial tools - Analyze waste picker business and provide capacity for financial analysis, financial statements and forecasting for scenario planning.
  5. Mapping of the global space - Assist waste picker/recycling organizations with mapping.
  6. Identify sustainable, viable innovations for informal sector transformation to sustainable business models in order to empower the transition from the informal sector to the formal sector.

Other projects by the Cason Family Foundation: http://www.wasteresources.org

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