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Inclusive Markets

Leakage and Livelihoods

Informal waste workers (IWW) are currently essential to reducing ocean plastic pollution as their efforts make recycling possible. In a recent study* of nine Asian cities, informal waste collectors contributed over 95% of the PET recovered for recycling.

Program Highlights

Social And Economic Impact

Cities in developing countries typically have waste collection rates between 50-80%, and rely heavily on the informal sector to do this work. Despite this, informal waste workers typically experience low and volatile incomes, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, stigma in their communities, and a lack of access to social protections.

Furthermore, in many communities in South and Southeast Asia, women make up the majority of informal waste workers. Women in these roles are likely to face gender-based discrimination, harassment, violence, and health risks; challenges due to additional care and domestic duties; as well as lower earnings and fewer opportunities for progression, than men.

Initiatives to improve recovery rates of plastics, and to reduce leakage, can often overlook the social and economic impacts on informal waste workers.

Preventing Plastic Leakage And Improving Livelihoods

  • The Program
  • The Offer

The Leakage and Livelihoods program is sourcing, supporting and connecting a cohort of organizations in South and Southeast Asia to explore a number of different mechanisms or models for engaging informal waste communities, or driving change to create inclusive waste systems.

Each organization is testing a solution that aims to improve material recovery and reduce plastic leakage into the ocean, while also improving livelihoods and social protection for informal waste workers (IWWs).

All projects will run for a six-month period, and will commence in the second half of 2021.

Supported by: Global Affairs Canada, Alliance to End Plastic Waste

In addition to a program-level research agenda, each project is receiving support around impact measurement, and will be connected to others for sharing learning and insights. The Incubation Network and partners will showcase the results and stories of the cohort, and work with project teams to co-design pathways for what happens next.

The Cohort

Download Cohort Kit
  • BINTARI Foundation

  • EcoSattva Environmental Solutions

  • Indonesia Solid Waste Association (InSWA)

  • Reciki Solusi Indonesia

    • ReForm Plastic

    • Hasiru Dala Innovations

    • Saahas Zero Waste


Learn About Our Other Programs

  • Entrepreneur Support

    Future of Flexibles 2021

    Flexible plastic packaging is the biggest contributor to marine debris. This challenge looks for innovative solutions that rethink packaging materials and its recycling systems.

     Learn more
  • Network Collaboration

    Circular Innovation Jam 2020

    We established a collaborative, problem-solving platform where citizens and organizations could convene to develop innovations for circular economies and effective waste management systems.

     Learn more
  • Network Collaboration

    Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator

    We formed a social innovation ecosystem that addresses ocean plastic leakage in Indonesia. This includes conducting business acceleration, networking, and research with entrepreneurs.

     Learn more