As the evening arrives to Buenos Aires, they begin to appear. They trawl the streets of virtually every neighbourhood of the capital. They get in the rubbish and tear up all those black sacks and plastic bags of refuge emptied from the city’s apartment buildings onto the pavements; and they cause what is let’s face it, a rather ugly mess.
They are however a hard working lot and like it or lump it, they’re providing a service.
The tens of thousands of cartoneros, perhaps best translated as cardboard people, make their living by extracting recyclable materials from the city’s rubbish.
Generally working in teams, whose members will commonly include children as young as seven or eight, they roam the streets from the early evening until the early morning, pushing carts from one corner to the next and ransacking the rubbish bags that are left for the binmen, in search of paper, plastics, metals and anything else they can flog.