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Ban on animal-drawn carts jeopardizes wastepickers’ livelihoods in Montevideo, Uruguay

A substitution of motor cars for animal-drawn wastepickers' carts seems to have been a solution both for wastepickers' livelihoods and for the complaints of "animalists" groups.


After several protests carried out by animal activists, the ban on animal drawn carts was under study by the Municipality in 2015. This ban would put at risk wastepickers’ livelihoods and would hinder their ability to collect recyclable waste. As consequence, animal activists and wastepickers organizations decided to jointly demand to public authorities a feasible alternative to the carts. After years of demonstration, in 2017, the Municipality presented a plan by which intended to improve wastepickers’ job conditions and change the animal drawn carts for motorcars. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ban on animal-drawn carts jeopardizes wastepickers’ livelihoods in Montevideo, Uruguay
Location of conflict:Montevideo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Substitution of motor cars for animal-drawn wastepickers' carts

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:9,000 waste pickers approximately.
Start of the conflict:01/05/2015
End of the conflict:01/07/2017
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Montevideo. Website:
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Representing waste pickers, the Organization of Municipal Solid Waste Pickers (UCRUS in Spanish). Website:

WIEGO. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing is a Manchester-based global research - policy network focused on improving conditions for workers in the in the informal economy.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Animal rights activists
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsLoss of recycling
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Development of alternatives:The Organization of Municipal Solid Waste Pickers (UCRUS in Spanish) met the mayor of Montevideo and presented to him the different needs that the wastepickers have. As consequence, a plan for the improvement of the job conditions of waste pickers was presented by the Municipality targeting these mentioned needs. Among them was the exchange of the animal-draught carts by motorcars, and the different loans offered to improve the waste pickers' situation.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:It's a small success since the waste pickers were provided a feasible and efficient alternative to animal-draught carts. However, the motorcars provided are not enough in comparison to the number of waste pickers. Therefore, I think the alternative proposed is good but the Municipality has to keep working jointly with the waste pickers if they want this plan to be a total success.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Lucia Fernandez, a study of Montevideo wastepickers.
[click to view]

Lucia Fernandez, a study of wastepickers, with reference to Montevideo. Waste Pickers: Forging a New Conceptualization of “The Public” in Waste Management
[click to view]

‘We Looked after People Better when We Were Informal’: The ‘Quasi-Formalisation’ of Montevideo’s Waste-Pickers. PATRICK O’HARE. University of Manchester, UK. Bulletin of Latin American Research. 2019. DOI:10.1111/blar.12957
[click to view]

Fernández, L. (2012) Paisajes-basura: Dinámicas y Externalidades Territoriales del Reciclaje en Montevideo, Uruguay. Documento de Trabajo de WIEGO. Políticas Urbanas: Manchester, 25.

‘We Looked after People Better when We Were Informal’: The ‘Quasi-Formalisation’ of Montevideo’s Waste-Pickers. PATRICK O’HARE. University of Manchester, UK. Bulletin of Latin American Research. 2019.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3]Newspaper Montevideo Portal: “Intendente recibió a recicladores”
[click to view]

[2] Newspaper El Pais: “Clasificadores: el 74% cursó hasta primaria; solo el 0,4% terminó el liceo”
[click to view]

[4] Plan of Labour Reconversion of the Municipality of Montevideo, Argentina.
[click to view]

[1] Newspaper Montevideo Portal: “Activistas y clasificadores se asociarán para eliminar los carritos tirados por caballos a tracción de sangre”
[click to view]

[5] News of the Municipality: Avanza sustitución de caballos por motocarros en clasificación
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Valeria Calvas
Last update12/10/2019
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