Zero Waste Lviv created a documentary project about informal collectors of garbage and recyclables in Lviv

With the support of the Ecological Initiative of the Renaissance Foundation, Zero Waste Lviv presented Collectors, a documentary based on a survey of real people who sort through garbage dumps in Lviv every day. The film is available on the Zero Waste Lviv YouTube channel.

What is the role of these collectors in the city? In waste management in particular? What does their income depend on? Would they accept a job offer? Have you considered collectors as cleanup crews and rescuers of treasures? The documentary covers all that.

Informal collectors are the established name in the field of waste management for those people in urban areas who sort through garbage dumps to find recyclable resource-valuable waste. And there is more to it, as the research shows. There are also those who choose and reanimate, repair and sell or keep furniture, household items, appliances, and sometimes works of art for their own use. Some “hunts” for valuables out of necessity, for the sake of survival, because this is their main source of income, while for others it is an additional income or hobby.

The film shows the contribution of these people to reducing the amount of waste in Lviv. It presents trivia and statistics obtained via field interviews in different areas of the city. The organisation’s researchers share conclusions and recommendations that should be considered when reforming the waste management system.

Previously, Zero Waste Lviv conducted a study of the profiles and role of the group of informal collectors of recyclables in Lviv’s waste management for the first time in Ukraine. 

Its purpose is to draw attention of the public, local authorities and stakeholders of the waste management system to the need to develop a data-based policy that will take into account the role and interests of informal collectors of secondary raw materials in the ongoing reform of the waste management system in Ukraine.

Recommendations based on the study will be presented to the city authorities.

The online presentation of the film took place on March 30, the International Day of Zero Waste, which was celebrated for the first time this year. The relevant resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly.


This research project was supported by the International Renaissance Foundation and the Government of Sweden as part of the Environmental Policy and Advocacy Initiative for Ukraine (EPAIU).

This article was prepared by the team of Zero Waste Lviv NGO. Photo: stills from the film.

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