Cargo tricycles and protective clothing support the work of informal collectors in Mitrovicë/a

On 22 January, representatives of the Regional Development Agency North (RDA North), the Social Enterprise treciklo and the Municipality of South Mitrovicë/a, handed over cargo tricycles, protective clothing and collection tools to selected informal collectors. In the presence of the Municipality of South Mitrovicë/a, OSCE and other stakeholders, it was highlighted that informal collectors of recyclable materials perform a valuable service to the community by making sure that recyclable materials such as PET bottles and other plastics can be recycled.

Providing uniforms and transport vehicles to informal collectors is an important first step in recognizing their contribution to environment protection and recycling.¨says Nasuf Aliu, Director of Economic Development, Municipality of South Mitrovicë/a.

Most informal recycling is done by members of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. Many families derive partial or all of their income from collecting waste, often with the participation of children. Informal collection is often done under hazardous conditions affecting the health of children and adults alike. Therefore, before signing the agreement for use of tricycles, all collectors participated in a training on health and safety in recycling, traffic safety and the negative consequences of child labour.

Supporting the work of informal collectors is one component of the project ‘Strengthening Social Inclusion and Economic Empowerment of marginalized groups in Mitrovicë/a’, funded by the European Union Office in Kosovo and implemented by the Danish Refugee Council. In addition, the project established a Social Entreprise, treciklo, which employs members of the Albanian and Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community and is managed by RDA North. Treciklo buys PET, HDPE and aluminium cans from marginalized informal collectors. The Social Enterprise also pays the required 3% tax on materials purchased from informal collectors as required by Kosovo law.

In the coming weeks, Danish Refugee Council and the Municipality of South Mitrovicë/a are also piloting a collection scheme with households and schools co-funded by Sida. With funding from the European Union Office in Kosovo, separation containers will be placed with households, schools and the Municipal building to give citizens of South Mitrovicë/a the opportunity to recycle and support informal collectors at the same time.

The informal collectors will have access to the containers and receive fair payment from the Social Enterprise for the materials collected. Thus, collectors registered will take steps towards formal employment and the use of hazardous practices and child labour will be discouraged. Official recognition of the work carried out by collectors will also contribute to promoting a positive image of informal collectors and combat stigmatization.