They are scavengers or informal garbage pickers who sort recyclable materials from the city dump.
Pepenadores are not allowed to sell their recyclable plastic bottles, cardboard and metals to anyone but designated intermediaries who drive on to the dump and sell the refuse at a higher price in nearby Mexico City.
Life for the dump’s hundreds of pepenadores is almost unbearably hard, picking up rubbish for 12 hours a day and earning as little as $3. But they rely on their rubbish as a farmer relies on his crops, and have no choice. They have nowhere else to go, and their lives are tightly controlled by the dump’s Mafia-style clans.