Standing for long hours in line to receive your first paycheck may sound pretty stressful. However, for recyclers in Bogotá, their first paycheck was a huge victory after more than twenty years of legal and political struggles—proof of the power of committed partnerships between academics and workers in the informal economy. In 2010, the global action-research-policy network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and the Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá (ARB) conducted joint research on a waste management financial modeling tool. In late 2011, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that waste picker associations should be allowed to bid for solid waste management contracts, mandating that their organizers should submit bids by March 2013. ARB used the financial modeling tool in preparing its successful bid—a historical legal victory for waste pickers. Beginning in March 2013, thousands of wastepickers have been getting paid for the tons of recyclable materials they collect every day from the streets of Bogotá.


Fernández, Lucía, and Martha Chen. "Recycling Livelihoods: A Global Network Supports Waste Pickers in Latin America." ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America. Winter 2015.