Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 337–353

Informal Waste Management


DOI: 10.1023/B:ENVI.0000029912.41481.a5

Cite this article as:
Nas, P.J. & Jaffe, R. Environment, Development and Sustainability (2004) 6: 337. doi:10.1023/B:ENVI.0000029912.41481.a5


This article discusses the poorly assessed topic of informal waste management systems, in which there appears to be a high level of heterogeneity throughout the world. The article considers the ways scavengers function within the broader context of waste management; they show a wide range of locally formed and adapted activities and social systems. Examples from different cultures are included: the United States, Jamaica, Brazil, Egypt and Indonesia. The authors advocate comparative research and find a contextual, holistic approach to be the most appropriate. Using such an approach, they isolate the important factors that characterize these systems: technical, socio-cultural, socio-political and organizational aspects are elaborated. Experiments in intervention have been undertaken at various levels, from varying ideological and theoretical backgrounds. Academic analyses have ranged from neo-Marxist political economy models to neo-liberal development approaches. As expressed in the title the authors conclude that informal waste management systems are unjustifiably considered problematic whereas they often reveal great development potential.

informal sectorscavengingurban sustainable developmentwaste management

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNWS Research SchoolLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands