At the present time the scrap dealers are paying one peso per kilo (2.2 pounds) for PET and 58 of the popular 600ml (20oz.) soft drink bottles weigh one kilo. So, in order to earn the equivalent of three U.S. dollars per DAY from collecting plastic bottles they need to collect about 2000 bottles. This is very difficult because there are so many pepenadores. It is even worse in Guatemala where there might be one thousand people living at the trash dump in huts made of cardboard and plastic and little children scramble for trash right alongside their elders. It is my understanding that Mexico City has about 15,000 pepenadores in total. They live in little neighborhoods of huts that surround the dumps. People are born, live, have children and grandchildren, and then die as pepenadores.
Now, here is the kicker! What happens to the PET that the pepenadores collect? It goes to China where they turn it into polyester cloth and also use it to make the fill for many insulated winter coats and jackets and to make carpets and other stuff that you (and me) buy at Walmart. Some of the people who pick plastic bottles from the trash in Mexico formerly made huaraches for a living. Huaraches are sandals made of leather that have a piece of tire tread for a sole. I have a pair and they are very comfortable. They cost about 50 pesos ($4.50) per pair. People don't make them very much any more, however, because they can't sell them. Why not? Because the shops are flooded with cheap plastic sandals that come from China and cost only half as much. And where does the plastic come from to make the sandals? You guessed it! It comes from the plastic bottles that the Mexicans and the Guatemalans collect from the trash dumps. What a nightmare!
In all fairness to other poor people in the world, there are millions of people in Africa, China, and India who would give anything to be able to pick trash in the Irapuato trash dump. It would be a big leap forward for them. Millions and millions of people in live on about one dollar a day or LESS. They don't need millions of dollars to be comfortable and happy either. They could do very well for themselves with just a little practical help and something to hope for. I remember the old political slogan, "A chicken in every pot". For people who live on nothing more than tortillas, beans, and chili peppers, even a scrawny chicken would seem like Thanksgiving dinner. Trashpicking...it’s a sorry business. That’s about all I can say except…"there but for the grace of God go I".