Thread, a certified B corp, transforms waste in the poorest parts of the world and utilizes it as a resource to create useful products, commits to improving conditions in the Truitier landfill area in Haiti. While trash collection is met with significant social stigma, participation in recycling provides critical economic opportunities for the community. Thread recognizes that these conflicting forces exist in underserved communities globally, and will reframe recycling as a sustainable industry that brings pride to the communities who contribute material inputs. This commitment in Haiti will serve as a pilot that can be scaled to other countries that Thread operates in.
Through this commitment, Thread will impact the lives of the estimated 200 children earning income through the collection of recyclables in Truitier, as well as their immediate families. To do so, Thread will partner with Team Tassy, a non-profit organization with service and geographic expertise in the Truitier area, which is uniquely positioned to implement scholarships, jobs training and provide access to health care to the children and families targeted by this commitment. Thread will also work with ACOP (Association des Collecteurs des Objets en Plastique), an association of 13 members in the Molea neighborhood that collect and buy plastic materials. ACOP has identified child labor as a critical issue and will assist in the implementation of scholarships, food, and transportation support for children working to collect and sell recyclables. While the majority of individuals working in recycling are men and boys, this approach will also engage women and girls offering them educational opportunities, leadership development, and professional development skills.
To improve conditions at the Truitier landfill and its surrounding community, Thread and its partners will first conduct a study to identify the individuals in and around Truitier who are making a living from waste collection, and offer:
– Health and safety training provided to an estimated 300 individuals involved in collecting waste and connection to existing services in these neighborhoods to raise awareness about healthcare access
– Educational and professional development opportunities, ensuring scholarships to the estimated 200 children earning income through the collection of recyclables in order to develop their skill sets so that they can pursue more sustainable careers within the recycling industry or in other industries in Haiti.
– Investment of $150,000 to entrepreneurs, microenterprises, and/or small-to-medium enterprises in Haiti. These entrepreneurs will be individuals working in recycling in Molea and identified by Thread and ACOP.
– Team Tassy will expand their in-country staff to ensure that the outlined services are provided to this new population, resulting in the creation of five full time jobs and three temporary jobs.
Simultaneously, Thread will partner with global brands such as Timberland and HP that are committed to utilizing recycled content in their products, while ensuring dignified working conditions and human rights of landfill workers. Timberland will purchase yarn made from recycled plastic bottles collected in Haiti for use in its apparel and footwear products.
By December 31, 2016, data collection will be complete, ensuring understanding of the breadth of individuals working in waste collection in Truitier as well the scope of programming that will be provided. Team Tassy will train ACOPs members to assist with interviews and data collection.
By December 31, 2016 HP will have started sourcing recycled PET from Thread to produce printer cartridges. HP will be sourcing plastic from Haiti, while working closely with Thread to improve quality and the specifications needed to utilize material sourced from Haiti.
In addition to funding this specific program, HPs investment in recycled material will provide crucial export opportunities for the countries Thread works in while increasing their participation in the circular economy.
In March 2017, Timberland will release shoes and bags made with fabric from recycled polyester that has been collected and processed in Haiti. Timberland products are directly improving waste conditions in Haiti as well as providing immense value to the businesses supplying the recycled material there. Timberland remains committed to Haiti and in addition to funding this commitment uses recycled material sourced from Haiti, including the Truiter landfill in their products.
By December 31, 2017, Team Tassy will administer basic full physical exams for the 200 children working in Truitier, providing medical records for those who do not have one and prioritizing cases based on the severity of illnesses. These exams will be carried out in Team Tassys medical facility partners: Hopital Fontaine for primary care; Hopital Adventiste Daquini for specialist needs; and Hopital Bernard Mevs for trauma care. Ongoing service will be made available to all family members. Once urgent needs are identified and taken care of, preventative care workshops for the 200 children and their family members will be administered.
Between January 2016 and March 2016, Thread and ACOP will provide safety and sanitation trainings to an estimated 300 individuals working in waste collection in Molea, regarding how to avoid hazards while collecting waste, as well as distribute safety equipment to the identified waste collectors. Waste collectors will be identified by ACOP, whose members are buying plastic from these collectors, and already have relationships in place.
By October 31, 2017, Thread will enroll eligible students in Team Tassys scholarship program, which includes full tuition and educational support at an approved school and office hours for out of school time support. There are several schools in the community where students can enroll. Preference for the scholarship program will be given to children who are currently working full time in plastic collection. Team Tassys scholarship program has four criteria: complete application with previous school report card; basic grade requirements; regularly attend Team Tassy office hours to receive tutoring; attend a school approved by Team Tassy.
By October 31, 2018, Team Tassy will provide job training to an estimated 300 people working in waste collection in Truitier, including a focus on communication skills, timeliness, teamwork, customer service, work ethic, and interview etiquettes for those who are work-ready. Additional core training components will include basics of financial management, English language, computer skills, and driving skills. Family members placed into jobs will be provided with additional professional development support including mentorship and regular check ins to enable them to be successful in the workplace. Once individuals reach independence, they will become a Team Tassy graduates and will be expected to lend a helping hand to the next family member enrolled in the program.
By October 31, 2019, individuals who complete Team Tassys training program will be placed into jobs with organizations in Haiti that Team Tassy will help to identify. Entrepreneurs with sound business ideas will also be offered support within Threads Micro-Loan program to see their ideas to implementation.
There is tremendous potential in utilizing waste as a resource to generate income, create new industry and exports, and clean up neighborhoods. Recycling offers an opportune entry point for low-income countries to participate in the circular economy an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. Circular economies see waste as valuable input materials and encourage the re-use of existing material rather than procurement of virgin resources for production. Circular economy design and thinking could spur innovation allowing low-income countries to leap frog the cradle to grave/landfill model prevalent in so many industrialized nations. However, individuals collecting waste around the world remain at risk, often operating in hazardous working conditions, with little opportunities for upward mobility or advancement and at risk to instances of child labor.
The Truitier landfill is located in the neighborhoods of Molea and Menelas in Cite Soleil, and serves the city and greater area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While Truitier provides much needed income opportunities for the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods (collectors make an average of approximately $3.57 per day above the country average of $2.24), individuals working to collect recycled material from the landfill face numerous risks. Unsafe working conditions include exposure to hazardous waste, such as medical waste from nearby hospitals, unsafe transportation on the trucks that deliver and transport waste, and social stigma that is associated to collecting recyclables. In addition, there are an estimated 200 children (aged 8-12) working in the collection of recyclable materials from the Truitier landfill.
Truitier is just one example of the challenges facing global recycling, as these circumstances are prevalent around the world. The income generated by these individuals, including children, is critical to their survival and the survival of their families. Stopping this work is thus not a practical nor a helpful solution. Instead, we must approach the root causes of systemic poverty in a holistic way, bringing opportunity and dignity to this part of recycling supply chains.
Best practice information, surrounding child labor, funding support, and brands who are utilizing recycled materials in their supply chains and want the opportunity to have unprecedented supply chain engagement at this level.
Thread is offering implementing partners more than five years of working experience in the recycling and waste collection space in Haiti, in-country staff, an excellent track record in impact reporting, and collaborative story-telling capabilities.