Q. What is AMELIOR?A. AMELIOR (Association des Marchés Economiques Locaux Individuels et Organisés de la Récupération) is a cooperative of street collectors, waste picker recyclers, and second hand sellers which was established in 2012. It is one of three similar initiatives in Paris that have been established to provide social recognition and economic support for waste pickers who are involved in collecting, repairing and upgrading objects and devices which they then sell in flea markets.
Q. How does AMELIOR work?A. The cooperative assists its 600 members to recover, recycle and upgrade waste and access second hand markets. In addition to advocating for the rights of its members AMELIOR also organizes educational activities around selective sorting, recycling and circular economy.
AMELIOR works with the equal share of benefits. Half of the profit belongs to worker-members. The other half is used for investment. All decisions are made during its bi-monthly meetings.
The waste picker members are the key decision makers in determining the activities of the cooperative. AMELIOR’s education activities are aimed at ensuring public support for their members who are often excluded from institutional decision making in most cities.
Q. What are their successes in terms of their partnerships and negotiating better deals for waste pickers?A. Recently the cooperative has secured two contracts with cities for market linkages. There has been growing public recognition for the waste pickers since AMELIOR’s was established four years ago. The cooperative has also secured structural investments from the local government as well as the private sector. AMELIOR has also raised funds to organize public education campaigns for recognition of and solidarity with waste pickers. In addition, AMELIOR participates in research projects on social inclusion of waste pickers.
Spotlight Interviews with Cooperators is a series of interviews with cooperative leaders from around the world with whom ILO officials have crossed paths during the course of their work with cooperatives. The responsibility for opinions expressed in this interview rests solely with the interviewees, and the article does not constitute an endorsement by the International Labour Office.