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Social Compliance in Waste Picking Supply Chains

As more brands recognize the social and environmental impacts of single-use packaging, and the ubiquitous nature of plastic specifically, industry demand for recycled and ocean-bound plastics is rapidly increasing. The waste pickers who sort through our plastic and divert it from the oceans play an essential social and economic role in this growing economy. However, visibility into the complex, decentralized supply chains in which they operate is limited. 

In partnership with industry leaders with a shared social and environmental commitment to incorporating responsibly sourced ocean-bound plastics into their supply chains, Nest is leading the way in protecting the rights of workers in this growing informal sector.

Protecting Workers in a Growing Informal Sector

A report by the World Bank notes that when waste pickers are properly supported, informal recycling can create employment, reduce poverty, improve local industrial competition, and decrease municipal spending. 

In 2019, Nest versioned its Ethical Handcraft program to train business leaders and subcontractors in waste picking supply chains on the Nest Standards and support remediation within their often decentralized business structures. Launched at the United Nations, the Nest Standards are recognized as the premier measure of ethical production taking place outside of the traditional four-walled factory.

Through this expansion of the Ethical Handcraft program into this growing informal sector, the Nest Standards can improve supply chain transparency in ways that protect both people and planet.

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Program Goals

Participation in Nest’s compliance program provides brands with greater visibility into the farthest reaches of their supply chains, enabling them to confidently source materials and products. This results in greater social and economic opportunities for workers and their communities.

Through on-site trainings, assessments, and capacity-focused remediation support, Nest works with the leaders within a supply chain to establish processes for setting fair wages and establishing safe working conditions. Nest’s unique model is designed to be sustainable – providing leaders with the tools and resources they need to prioritize worker wellbeing for lasting success. 


Program Impact to Date

Nest has enrolled 114 supply chains across 22 countries in the Ethical Handcraft Program. These efforts have directly impacted more than 45,000 individuals by establishing fair wages and safe working conditions, which are proven to positively impact their social, economic, and overall wellbeing. The program has also been credited with improved health and educational outcomes in the communities where it has been implemented.