In Peru, new recycling organizations improve waste management

An association of recyclers in the Peruvian district of Arequipa, where a UNDP-supported programme has helped organise the workers, regulating and expanding their work. (Photo: UNDP Peru)

In the Peruvian district of Arequipa, Roque Flores Calle leaves his home in the suburbs from Monday to Friday to make a living for his family. Every morning he collects recyclable waste (plastics, bottles, cartons, cans) that local families provide. During weekends, he separates the materials for later sale.


  • Almost 25 percent of solid waste from Arequipa is now reusable. Before the project, only 5 percent was recovered from dump sites in the city.
  • The “Nuevo Mundo” association currently collects approximately 300 kg of solid waste per day.
  • Recyclers' income has increased by 100 percent.

Flores is part of a project started in 2010 to officially recognize the work being done by informal recyclers in the city’s waste dumps. These men and women have been trained, organized and formalized into two associations to fight the negative impact of waste on the environment and on people's health.

Flores is part of the recyclers’ association “Nuevo Mundo,” consisting of 16 men and 28 women. The group was officially founded in 2011 as part of the strategy of the UNDP-supported project in the district of Arequipa.

Giannina Oyanguren, technical adviser of the project, explains that the most important achievements have been integrating the recyclers into society through stable and decent jobs, and promoting the city ordinance that regulates their work.

"The project stimulated the formalization of the recyclers - it is estimated that there are about 250 in the city - through the formation of business associations, of which 55 recyclers participated in the creation of two associations: Nuevo Mundo and Recicla Vida," Giannina says.

 “We used to work in very bad conditions in the waste dump,” Flores explains. “Since we are formalized, we have a special uniform, a badge that identifies us, together with the assigned zones of selective waste collection.”

The Association provides a stable and reliable salary to recyclers, including health insurance.

"Before, I was concerned for the future of my family; luckily now my children can go to school and I no longer need their help in my work as a recycler,” Flores says. "We can give an example to other neighborhoods. I would like to go to other cities of Peru and explain our experience, convincing my colleagues that we have an honorable role in reducing the waste problem in the country, yes we can! Recycling provides me with a living, and the formalization has been the best decision I could make. I am optimistic about my families’ future."

Gradually, people like Roque Flores are improving their living and working conditions. UNDP continues supporting the integrated solid waste project in Arequipa, with support from the Poverty – Environment Initiative (PEI).


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