Reuters

A new documentary follows a family of Coptic Christians, one of thousands who tend to the city's trash

Cairo has one of the most effective recycling programs in the Middle East. But it's borne on the backs of the city's "garbage people," Coptic Christians who harvest and sort 15,000 tons of waste every day.

Their lives are documented in a new film Zabaleen, which follows Mourad Waleed, his wife Um, and their 11 children. The city of Cairo is nominally responsible for tending to waste. But corruption has resulted in an erosion of municipal services, and the Zabaleen take up the slack. According to Green Prophet, nearly 80 percent of all waste is recycled.

In one clip, the family explains their day.

Here's another that explains a bit more about the project:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    5 Reasons to Be Wary of Elon Musk's Hyperloop

    High-speed vactrains might be the ticket for a Martian colony. As a practical transit investment for Earth, the technology has a long way to go.

  2. Environment

    Let's All Swim in the Once-Filthy Canals of Paris

    Unlike many cities, the French capital has made good on its promise to re-open urban waterways to bathers. How did they do it?  

  3. Uber drivers sit in their cars waiting for passengers.
    Equity

    What Uber Drivers Say About Uber

    Researchers conducted in-depth interviews and discovered a lot about the pitfalls of working in the rideshare business.

  4. The Salk Institute, near San Diego
    Design

    This Is Your Brain on Architecture

    In her new book, Sarah Williams Goldhagen presents scientific evidence for why some buildings delight us and others—too many of them—disappoint.

  5. Equity

    The Great Minimum Wage Debate

    The minimum wage is way too low in most places, but a bit too high in a few