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Nohra Padilla, one of the six laureates of this year’s Goldman Prize, known as the “Nobel Environment Prize” says she is a grassroots recycler “which means I offer a basic public service that enables to recover reusable and recyclable materials, that would otherwise end up in waste dumps, landfills or incinerators”.
“This (service) is a key element of our system called Zero Waste. Through our network of cooperatives, grassroots recyclers gather 100 times more recyclable material than the formal recycling sector in Bogota”, added Padilla in an interview published by the Latin American Coordination of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
GAIA comprises over 650 grassroots groups, nongovernmental organizations and individuals in more than 90 countries. Their ultimate aim is a toxic free world with no incinerators.
Padilla officially received the Goldman Prize on April 15 at a ceremony held in San Francisco, United States. “Nohra is famous for her struggle for dignity and the recognition of the role of recyclers in the management of urban waste”, said GAIA’s Latin American Coordination (based in Chile). Activist Madgalena Donoso, who is part of the coordination, wrote a special report for Real World Radio about Nohra’s award, her work and the importance of recyclers worldwide.
Another Goldman Prize winner was Italian teacher Rossano Ercolini for his work against incineration and in student and community education on zero waste system.
The Goldman Prize was created in 1989 at the initiative of San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. The prize continues today with its original mission of honouring each year people who defend ecology in Africa, Asia, Europe, the island nations, North, South and Central America.
In March, the Recyclers Association of Bogota (cofounded and run by Padilla) obtained a landmark victory: the local government began to pay official salaries to the recyclers, almost the same as the ones paid to the recycling companies. The fact was a milestone in the recyclers’ struggle for their rights. Padilla and the group she leads are also an example for the recyclers movement in Latin America and the world.
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