Assessing urban recycling in low- and middle-income countries: Building on modernised mixtures

A. Scheinberg, S. Spies, M.H. Simpson, A.P.J. Mol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Recycling and valorisation of waste in urban centres in low- and middle-income countries is often misunderstood. Recycling in these countries represents neither the service of removal, nor an activity of “greening” related to ecological modernisation. Recycling is first of all an economic activity of commodities extraction, upgrading, and trading, and as such it provides a livelihood for millions of persons worldwide. Based on evidence of waste management and recycling activities in six urban centres in low- and middle-income countries, this paper explores the contribution of informal sector recycling to recycling and solid waste management. It interprets the variety of urban recycling systems as “modernised mixtures”: the mixing of formal municipal waste removal systems with informal private sector recycling activities. Context-dependent factors determine how this mixture of formal and informal systems looks, and how effective informal recycling in these urban centres is. This approach to analysing existing recycling can contribute to improvement of solid waste management systems through sustainable and fair recycling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-198
JournalHabitat International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • ecological modernization
  • waste management

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