Every evening, Phnom Penh residents can see little flashlights making quick movements around the city’s markets – the beam of light swaying from sidewalk to sidewalk. The light is coming from edjai, who are equipped with headlamps, as they scavenge through the trash left at the city’s markets.
A large number of edjai, or waste pickers, ride around the city on motorcycles pulling flat-bed carriers filled with plastic, paper, cardboard, and aluminum waste, all headed to the Vietnamese recycling units. Often, family members will accompany the edjai, helping to sort through piles of refuse.
These informal workers are one of the most vulnerable groups in the city, with little to no social protections, even though they provide the critical service of recycling the city’s garbage.
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