E-waste and employment in Argentina - Executive Summary (abstract)

Abstract on the analysis on the e-waste value chain and its labour conditions in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Tierra del Fuego. (Full text in Spanish only)

The analysis on the e-waste value chain and its labour conditions in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Tierra del Fuego concludes that, in Argentina, only 3 to 4 per cent of the e-waste generated is recovered. A small group of private companies and social and solidarity economy (SSE) initiatives carry out this recovery and generate more than 200 registered jobs. Additionally, there are many waste pickers organized in cooperatives that occasionally recover e-waste, and at least 2,000 informal waste pickers that collect, classify, disassemble and recover e-waste in extremely poor working conditions.

In the private sector, working conditions tend to be compliant with legal requirements regarding labour contracts, wages, health coverage, social protection, unionization, and collective bargaining. SSE workers are usually under the social protection system, but there is still a need to improve their working conditions and incomes, while informal workers remain extremely vulnerable.

Full access to labour rights should be a guarantee for all, but especially informal, workers. It is necessary to deepen engagement concerning occupational health and safety issues, especially in relation to controlling the impacts of hazardous substances on both workers and the environment. It is also necessary to identify skill gaps and advance training proposals that meet emerging needs. Greater inclusion of women, currently almost absent in the sector, should also be encouraged.

Despite its emergent status, it is evident that the e-waste sector has great potential. The research shows that e-waste management business and SSE initiatives have the potential and capacity to grow while generating inclusive decent work. Clear and ambitious local and national public policies, social dialogue and the strengthening of SSE initiatives are key to advance in this direction.