USAID Convenes Partners to Ensure a Fair, Just, and Inclusive Design of the New International Plastic Treaty
November 29, 2022 – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (CCBO) program, organized a meeting on the sidelines of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) conference to ensure the people on the frontlines of waste management–the informal waste collectors–have a voice in the first international legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.
Informal waste workers collect and recycle more than 50 percent of plastic waste globally. Their high waste recovery rates contribute significantly to the reduction of solid waste in landfills, dumpsites, and open burning sites—preventing plastic waste from entering our oceans and releasing potent methane gasses into the air. And yet they face structural barriers, economic and other social challenges that prevent them from having a voice in the decisions that impact the sector.
As global leaders convened in Uruguay to develop the first-ever legally binding international treaty on plastic pollution, USAID together with UNEP partner, GRID-Arendal; the International Solid Waste Association Women of Waste Task Force; and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing convened a session to spotlight the role of the informal waste sector—and to ensure a fair, just, and inclusive design of the new plastic treaty in meeting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The event showcased a new report on the informal waste sector: A Seat at the Table: The Role of the Informal Recycling Sector in Plastic Pollution Reduction, and Recommended Policy Changes that outlines some of the challenges faced within the informal sector and key considerations for INC negotiations. The keynote was followed by a panel discussion with representation from USAID, Unilever, WIEGO, the Chilean Waste Pickers Association, and the Norwegian Institute of Water Research to share experiences of international and national efforts to recognize informal workers and involve them in formal frameworks and agreements.
CCBO is USAID’s global flagship program to respond to the crisis of ocean plastic pollution under the U.S. Government’s Save Our Seas Initiative. Through local, national, and international technical expertise paired with a global grants program, CCBO tests, scales, and shares innovative, and proven solid waste management solutions with governments, communities, and businesses in ten countries and more than 25 cities across Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands.
“City by city, USAID’s Clean Cities Blue Ocean program is helping to create a more circular economy by increasing resource efficiency and material recovery—and creating models of how to engage the informal sector that other local governments and organizations can replicate,” said Clare Romanik, USAID’s Lead Ocean Plastics and Urban Advisor.