Furedy: Socio-political Aspects of the Recovery and Recycling of Urban Wastes in Asia
Furedy, Christine. "Socio-political Aspects of the Recovery and Recycling of Urban Wastes in Asia." Conservation & Recycling 7.2-4 (1984): 167-173.
"In the cities of developing countries, the factors that will most transform solid waste management in the near future will be social and political rather than technical."
Argues for a shift from a technical innovation focused approach to one that considers social and political aspects of solid waste management, particularly in relation to the informal sector waste scavengers, but also in consideration of the constraints to a technical approach in many rapidly developing countries and cities.
Collectors and scavengers aid in the collection of waste; this paper outlines some of the social and political issues to be considered in promoting the integration of informal sector with techno-managerial approaches.
The paper outlines research priorities to be addressed if socio-political factors are to be taken into account:
What is the structure of the informal systems of recuperation (itinerant waste buyers), scavenging and recycling?
What are the pathways of the recovered materials [could be thought of as a type of value chain analysis (recommended by WIEGO) or supply chain analysis]?
What is the relationship between the formal and informal sectors?
What are the public health aspects of waste recycling?
What are the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors within and of the informal sector?
What public interventions and educational efforts influence waste-related behavior?
The paper also discusses five main areas of tension (persistent dilemmas) inherent in the discussion of integrated solid waste management (formal and informal sector integration):
between common good and individual rights;
between health concerns and employment access;
between economic efficiency and humane policies;
between promotion of industry and preservation of environmental quality;
and, between municipal enterprise and private enterprise.
Method: primarily a discussion paper as follow-up to a workshop on waste recycling held in Calcutta, May 1983
These five areas of tension raise many questions about how to best promote development and economic opportunity within the informal waste sector. Is it appropriate to promote an economic activity that has significant health impacts? Are there ways to decrease the exposure to risk while allowing for resource recovery (even Northern recycling facilities are highly hazardous work environments)? What commitment does a municipality have to provide economic opportunity and how can this also benefit the commitment to public health and municipal order (as well as environmental goals)? Where in the cycle does it benefit the most people, or have the greatest positive impact, to promote informal sector or small- business opportunities? How can a municipality benefit from resource recovery while also promoting economic opportunity for the people (conflict of the municipality with the people it serves)?
This paper reinforces the need for an overarching vision and plan for solid waste management at the municipal level that addresses not just techno-managerial concerns such as facility upgrading and fleet maintenance, but also socio-political-economic and environmental protection goals.