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Only 4% of grassroots recyclers contribute to social security in Ecuador

Only 4% of grassroots recyclers contribute to social security in Ecuador

Patricia Quiñónez is 27 years old and works in recycling due to lack of employment. Per month, she says, collecting waste such as plastic or cardboard leaves her an average income of $120. Living in a “complex” area of ​​Guayaquil like Isla Trinitaria, she has worked since she was a teenager. She just finished school. She was not aware of the National Census of Grassroots Recyclers carried out by the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) between March 14 and June 30 of this year.

The preliminary results of this registry indicate that there are 10,053 grassroots recyclers in Ecuador. However, this figure contrasts with the estimate that organizations that work in the classification of waste have always managed, which is close to 20,000. In fact, it is believed that this figure is much higher, since with the pandemic and the lack of employment, more people opted for recycling to earn an income.

Grassroots recyclers in Ecuador hope that the census will materialize access to health, decent employment, housing and credit

Juana Iza, president of the National Network of Recyclers of Ecuador (Renarec), affirms that many of her colleagues fear that they will take away aid such as the Human Development Bonus (from those who are beneficiaries) or simply due to ignorance they did not go to the census .

Although he assures that the figures raised by the MIES will serve to promote public policies for recyclers who have historically been relegated, despite the importance of their work. According to figures from this census, 66% of registered recyclers have basic education or less, 17% cannot read or write and most of them are between 18 and 30 years of age. On the other hand, barely 4% (just over 400) contributes to the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS). 25% of the total recyclers registered are in Guayas.

There are more recyclers and the census should continue. Due to lack of time, concern about the bonus or ignorance, many colleagues did not register. However, it is progress (preliminary data) because it is the first time that a census has been carried out in the country for this sector and we have already requested that there be a second phase. In addition, MIES is going to open its service balconies from October 3 to November 30 to continue registering fellow recyclers”, indicates Iza.

The average income of recyclers in Ecuador is between $120 and $150 per month. Photo: Courtesy Renarec

He adds that this information will be used to achieve issues such as access to health, since the majority of recyclers work in precarious conditions, without the necessary safety implements to handle waste. Also for access to decent housing, education and credit. “We recyclers do not have a basic salary and we earn a maximum average of $150 per month, so we cannot pay for health insurance or the social security contribution, so this data will help us manage insurance according to our Autonomous work”.

“In Ecuador we have left the recyclers to open the way with an ax and machete, we have looked at them badly and turned our backs, this has to change,” says Gustavo Manrique, Minister of the Environment.

According to the MIES, this information will serve as input for the IESS to establish a specific affiliation category for this segment of the population. Additionally, priority and vulnerable groups identified as older adults, people with disabilities, girls, boys and adolescents, immersed in this activity, will be attended by the different MIES services.

It is the first time in history that there will be statistical data on this population group that will allow the creation of environmental, labour, social and economic public policies to improve their living conditions.”, indicates Esteban Bernal, principal of MIES.

Another of the issues that Renarec wants to promote is fair payment for each ton of waste that is recovered. Iza affirms that the different municipalities of the country pay the garbage collection companies per buried ton, but nobody recognizes the recyclers for the tons that they separate and that do not enter the sanitary landfills, thus helping not only the environment but decongesting the areas where the councils have for the garbage.

In Ecuador, the technology already exists to make plastic bottles with 100% recycled material

Each recycler recovers one ton of material per month. We prevent those thousands of tons from going to dumps, landfills and streams. We also seek that the municipalities allocate transfer sites to be able to separate the waste before it is buried, technical collection centers”, indicates Iza.

The census was carried out within the framework of compliance with the Organic Law of Inclusive Circular Economy, promulgated in July 2021. (I)

Source: Eluniverso

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