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  • Many cities and communities in developing countries in Asia and other regions are faced with complex challenges to ensure adequate solid waste management systems that safeguard human and environmental health. Informal waste workers are key players in closing gaps by recovering valuable materials and diverting them back into the economy primarily via recycling markets. However, operating in informality usually entails precarious living and working conditions. Gender-based and other forms of social exclusion further contribute to unstable, often unsafe, and inequitable dynamics.
  • Inadequate environmental resource management disproportionately impacts the poor and all future generations, including in vulnerable communities where most informal waste workers live. Youth activists around the world have risen as ambassadors of future generations, vulnerable groups, and environmental challenges of today. Including youth perspectives in future transitions is key to sustainable development pathways.
  • Incorporating waste workers today empowers them as dignified workers tomorrow, as the ‘heroes’ of resource recovery.

Building the Alliance

The Waste Hero Alliance is the result of an innovative multi stakeholder policy dialogue series that connected informal waste workers and youth in Thailand, Bangladesh, Lao PDR, and the Philippines, and engaged others with a stake or interest in solid waste management and crosscutting related subjects, including academia, civil society organisations, private sector, and government institutions.

The Alliance Report

Focusing on five areas with an impact on the livelihoods of informal waste workers, the dialogue resulted in five key policy recommendations ideated by youth based on inputs from informal waste workers and feedback from other stakeholders. These are presented in a report along with implementation ideas and spotlights on existing initiatives. The report aims to invite a cross-sectoral movement of allies committed to contributing to a shared vision of an inclusive circular economy with empowered workers.

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Join the Waste Hero Alliance


Our Partners

Contact person:  Callum Mackenzie (email:,  Jonathan Brenes (email: