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Building decline here, loss of a livelihood there...

This commentary on the Economist article about recycling and cost state that when new construction declines the rag pickers in less developed countries (India) feel the pinch.

It also argues that the rag pickers are more effective at diverting waste from landfill and they do more complex sorting at a much lower cost. Of course, the environmental justice and human rights aspects of their livelihood are not internalized into the cost. Material recycling facilities (MRFs) are very costly, and it is challenging to recover the costs with resource recovery. Adding simple sorting facilities and ensuring basic rights (such as freedom from exploitation) for waste pickers could elevate their working/living conditions while retaining the simplicity and effectiveness of waste picking.