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Human rights due diligence toolkit

A human rights due diligence toolkit for businesses working with the informal sector to reduce waste

2023

Waste pickers sorting and collecting plastic among the mountains of waste at the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi

Waste pickers at work at Nairobi’s Dandora dumpsite. Photograph: Joseph Limo, Tearfund

There are at least 20 million waste pickers across the world. These waste pickers are vulnerable to a broad range of severe human rights impacts whilst carrying out vital environmental and public health work.

Under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), companies have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout their operations and value chains. This means they have a duty to prevent and address these potential and actual  impacts.

In November 2022 the Fair Circularity Initiative (FCI), convened by Tearfund, was launched by The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestlé. The aim was to bring businesses together to secure the human rights of workers within the informal waste sector and to recognise their critical role in circular value chains. At the heart of the FCI are the Fair Circularity Principles which apply the expectations of the UNGPs to the informal waste sector.

This three-stage toolkit was prepared by First Mile for, and in collaboration with, Tearfund. It offers guidance and templates to support businesses in implementing the Fair Circularity Principles by:

  • mapping their value chains
  • assessing and analysing human rights risks and their root causes
  • meaningfully engaging with informal waste sector workers to ensure human rights impacts are prevented, mitigated and remedied.
  • providing a monitoring and evaluation framework
  • applying a gender lens throughout the process

The tools cover the informal waste sector as a whole, but with a focus on waste pickers – who are often the most vulnerable rights holders within this broader group.

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