The private operator that runs the Oum Azza site says it is the largest modern sorting and landfilling facility in the Maghreb area, taking in about 850,000 tons of refuse per year. It sponsored the creation of a cooperative and built a sorting facility to help people like Milouda who used to work at the makeshift site, continue earning money but in safer and more organized conditions. About 150 people belong to the cooperative, of which 22 are women.

The members are organized in teams that pick out different types of recyclables on a conveyor belt. “Everyone is paid the same monthly salary of 2,620** Dirhams a month,” explains Yassine Mazzout, President of the Cooperative At-Tawaffouk (which means Success in Arabic), and any excess profit is shared once a year according to the number of hours each one has worked. “Although I make a bit less money than before, there are other advantages,” says Milouda. Cooperative members receive health insurance, access to a bank account and a low mortgage.

The trash pickers also contribute to the business model. The on-site recycling plays an important role:  by extracting about 2,200 tons of solid trash per year for resale and turning about 100,000 tons of green garden waste into compost, the cooperative reduces the volume of trash that needs to be buried and prolongs the site’s life expectancy.  Yassine would like to recycle more waste and help trash pickers in other cities, like Agadir, get organized.

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