Levelling the playing field of the waste pickers trapped in poverty, legally empowering them to secure their right to survival and formal development in times of an emerging multibillion waste recycling economy, and bring equity and transparency to the price system, cost distribution and technical operation of the public service of waste collection and elimination through landfilled, energy production or material recovery of commodities is what Trash Gives Life envisions as a project of systemic change.
However, this is the task of the state and not of civil society. But when legislators and regulators appear to be unresponsive to the needs of the poor, corporate lobbying blocks the recognition of the economic human rights of people, or the occupational groups or communities don’t have the political power to be effectively taken in account in law and policy making, civil society can advance the claims and petitions through the remedial path of the judiciary power of the state. Individual and collective human rights defense, structural reform litigation in the public interest, as well as advocacy for policy reform are strategies to make bottom-up change in institutions. Drawing information from the fears and aspirations of the marginalized poor sectors of the population surviving from waste work, thorough knowledge of sanitation systems, public services, nonprofit law, and the social and solidarity economy of organized communities are found at the basis of CIVISOL theory of change. This theory of change is one aimed to convert organized waste pickers into municipal (recycling) waste service providers by means of legally safekeeping the recycling route and market niche, in order to guarantee their right to survival and development, and the regulatory retribution of their work, alongside to the market price paid for the material.
CIVISOL’s´ theory of change, by which recyclable waste pickers are legally recognized and officially included in sanitation policy as social entrepreneurs, so that each municipality can procure the services of recyclable waste collection, evacuation, and preparation for commercialization to the local industry from the nonprofits of organized waste pickers, is a strategy of systemic poverty reduction by the use of law.
Legally empowering the poor sectors of society, which have their life and livelihood intrinsically tied to waste and the trade of recycling in a municipal settings, consists in securing the waste pickers´ right to having rights in this new millennium, which oriented towards sustainable development, responsible business conduct, inclusive public policy making, and society´s rewiring to old human values of civility, civicness, and solidarity in democracy and for development.