Inflation reduces the volume of garbage cans and the wages of “binners” in Argentina

Inflation reduces the volume of garbage cans and the wages of “binners” in Argentina

Trash collectors waste note that consumption habits have changed in the face of skyrocketing inflation that is running at more than 60%.

In Argentina's trash cans, dwindling waste reflects the ravages of inflation.

With inflation above 60%, Argentina's garbage cans have shrunk considerably, reducing the income of those who covet them to make a few coins by recovering recycled or returnable waste.

They are commonly called binners in English, valoristes in French or cartoneros in Spanish and drag bags full to bursting cardboard, glass and plastic waste that they transport to recycling centers where they collect small sums of money in exchange.

Every day we collect less, says Joaquín Rodríguez, a 24-year-old Argentinian who earns his living from garbage from the streets and dumpsters in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

The cartoneros sell cardboard for 37 pesos per kilo, or about 37 cents at the official exchange rate.

People have no choice but to do the same job as us, he says there are more and more cartoneros and less waste.

Waste reduction reflects a change in shopping habits of Argentine consumers as a result of inflation.

While there is no updated official data on waste volumes, analysts have highlighted the fall in consumption, which fell by 4.5% in volume in June compared to compared to the previous year, according to local consultancy Focus Market.

At the same time, prices rose 5.3% in June alone, according to official data. Listed prices may even jump overnight, as retailers seek to catch up with — or outpace — inflation, which a central bank survey predicts is expected to hit 76% this year.

< p class="e-p">People's consumption has dropped because things have become very expensive, confirms Marcela Cid, 58. This owner of two clothing stores in San Fernando, north of Buenos Aires, is also seeing a drop in sales. At the end of the chain, discarded products accumulate less quickly.

Companies that used to take out the cardboard twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, only take it out once a day, because there are no sales, summarizes Paola Godoy, 40, leader of the recycling cooperative Jovenes en Progreso .

In middle-class and working-class homes, Argentines are forced to change their consumption habits as prices rise. Some are switching from more expensive brands to less expensive products, cutting out luxury products and changing their eating habits.

Bus driver Juan Silva, 53, says he turns to bulk food items at the city's central market, known for its cut prices. With the problem of the economy and the situation of the country, we have to make the effort to buy in bulk and save for the whole month. We are many in the family; really, my salary is no longer enough.

The economic crisis is raging in Lomas de Zamora, a suburb of Buenos Aires.

Romina Peluffo, a 43-year-old cartonera who runs the Plaza recycling cooperative Libertad, take note of this shift in consumption by sorting the garbage cans.

From May to now, recyclable materials started to drop a lot, she says. Before, we picked up two bags a day, with milk cartons, egg cartons, cooking oil. Today we get maybe half a bag.

In the streets of Argentina, signs of growing anger are mounting, with demonstrations against the government, in particular.

The South American country's economy minister resigned earlier this month, exposing deep divisions within the center president's government left Alberto Fernández, who tightened currency controls and raised interest rates in an effort to control inflation.

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