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Recycling geniuses, materials experts, masters of negotiation and marketing in the domestic waste stream... No contemporary model or modern technology comes even close to Cairo’s ragpickers.
70,000 of these "Zabbaleen” live in Manshiyat Naser, the capital's “Christian suburb” and home to the largest ragpickers' district. They not only rid the Egyptian megalopolis of nearly half of its waste, they have also informally set up the world's most efficient sorting and recycling system.
Without any compensation from the State, the neighborhood's 1,000 or so workshops sort, clean and process up to 90% of the waste collected. Despite not having access to proper technology and working under rudimentary conditions, they far exceed OECD countries’ meager 36% recycling rate. Their success story is inspiring: no contemporary model or modern technology is as efficient as these “world champions” of informal waste collection and sorting.