Every March 1, World Recycler Day is commemorated, reminiscent of a group of collectors who in 1922 were killed at the Universidad Libre de Barranquilla, Colombia.
For this reason, this date pays tribute to the recyclers, women and men who every day are dedicated to collecting, selecting, recovering, marketing and reusing waste, work that for years has been invisibilized and even despised by prejudices Social. These are the historically misnamed «cachureros», «cartoneros» or «chatarreros», who have always
have been seen collecting, separating and recovering what others discard.
However, these people who have been stigmatized and marginalized by a society that has undervalued them for years, have become recycling professionals, re-educating citizens on environmental issues and with a clear sustainable commitment.
The current National Association of Recyclers of Chile (formerly Chile’s National Recyclers Movement) managed to get base recyclers recognized as managers in waste management systems, as established in the new REP Law, certifying to formalize their trade and be part of the recycling industry’s value chain.
But the Association does not fight alone, allies such as Cempre Chile (Business Commitment for Recycling) – made up of different companies – have been working for years to facilitate alternatives for the development and effective inclusion of recyclers as managers municipal and private management.
This support has meant that today there is an effective inclusion of recyclers in four municipalities of Santiago, which is essential, understanding that relevant targets are coming around recycling, especially with regard to packaging, where materials are such as plastic bottles, beverage cardboard, metals, glass, papers and cartons, will allow to expand and improve a valuation market already created for these materials.
But for the Association it is necessary to take it a step further. It is not enough to «include» recyclers, but the challenge is for recyclers to be recognized for their commitment and their historic contribution to society, strengthening their work, for example, with technological measurement tools that allow the recording of their waste; promoting the construction of collection centres especially in regions and facilitating access to recycler certification.
The call, then, is to recognize our recyclers as primary and essential agents in the recycling chain. Caring for and supporting them is everyone’s job, as their work not only improves people’s quality of life, but also contributes to planetary livelihoods, as the best allies in the fight against climate change.
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