47% of waste pickers are over 55-years-old – Deo

47% of waste pickers are over 55-years-old – Deo

By Iliana Biutu
Monday 07/08/2023

Some senior citizens have ended up on the streets and resorted to waste picking to make a living as a direct result of elder abuse, social isolation, absence of family support and connections and financial support.

This was highlighted by the Pacific Recycling Foundation founder, Amitesh Deo during the Mapping Exercise of the Waste Collection Sector.

Deo says 47 percent of those involved in waste picking are over the age of 55 with the oldest being 74. He says elder abuse and neglect are a pressing concern and they continue to come across heart-wrenching cases where some senior citizens are now involved in waste picking for survival after being abandoned by their children or told by loved ones to fend for themselves.

He further says, in a few cases, some senior citizens have started waste picking, not only for a living but because they have been able to find solace with fellow Collection Pillars of Recycling who operate in close-knit groups.

The founder says many times we fail to understand why some of our citizens are ending up on the streets, picking up pet bottles or looking for recyclables from rubbish bins and why they keep coming back to the streets when removed by authorities or reunited with their families.

Deo adds these waste pickers found a new lease of life through the waste-picking trade, and unknowingly, are also combating climate change by preventing waste from going to landfill and dumpsites.

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