Over 90 participants, representing different stakeholders, including 20 representatives from 11 EXPRA members participated in the public seminar on “The impact of street collectors on separate collection” organized by CEVKO, the Turkish members of EXPRA.
The key notes were given by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Prof Dr Mustafa Öztürk, and by Andre Vilhena from CEMPRE – a Brazilian association of industry, implementing a successful pilot project supporting street pickers. Mr. Vilhena explained the Brazilian model that aims to help waste pickers to change from the informal to the formal sector by helping them to establish and run cooperatives. He noted that with the help of the pilot project since 2010, 10 % of 800 thousand waste pickers are working in the 1.000 cooperatives they founded. He underlined that that with education and better work conditions the capacity of the cooperatives was improved, and the Brazilian Model was accepted as a reference for developing countries by United Nations Environment Program in Rio+20.

In the following sessions, EXPRA members – Packaging Recovery Organizations (PROs) from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Macedonia, shared their experiences and the negative impact of informal sector collection on their operations. The existence of a parallel, informal collection system, decreases the quantities of incoming valuable materials, increases the operating costs, damages the established collection infrastructure and de-motivates the inhabitants to separate the waste. There is also a negative impact on the processing of documentation aand reporting of recycled/recovered quantities.

It has to be noted that in a growing number of countries this topic is gaining importance and that it gets more and more difficult for many PROs to protect their separate collection infrastructure from damages and respectively to document the collected and recycled packaging amounts.

Still the PROs are trying to find ways to solve these problems – by implementing pilot projects as for example in the city of Stip, Macedonia, where the PRO in cooperation with NGOs is trying to integrate the waste pickers in the formal system.

Representatives of local authorities from Turkey shared also their experiences and discussed the different aspects of this complex problem: environmental, social and economical.

During the panel on “Solution Alternatives for the Management of Street Collectors “moderated by Head of Ministry of Environment and Urbanization Waste Management Department Ahmet Varır, Ahmet Cihat Kahraman from Marmara Municipalites Union, Alphan Eröztürk from ÇEVKO, Joachim Quoden from EXPRA, Andre Vilhena from CEMPRE and Ercan Yürekli from TÜDAM discussed the related problems and possible solutions.

At the end of the seminar, the following conclusions were made by the participants:

  • Under certain conditions it might be possible to integrate street pickers into the official collection and recycling system especially when the existing separate collection system is run on a very low scale;
  • If a separate collection system is existing or will be set up in the near future, the work of the street pickers is counterproductive, even damaging the system.

EXPRA and its EPR implementation working group will develop a respective position paper which should then be shared with national and European authorities to make them aware of the topic.

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