Urban Forum

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 247–259 | Cite as

The waste sector and informal entrepreneurship in developing world cities

  • Christian M. Rogerson


It is evident from the experience of cities across the developing world that the waste economy is a significant area for informal entrepreneurship. The overall picture is one in which the majority of activities are unsupported and exist at bare survival levels. The most promising areas for SMME growth appear in circumstances in which the importance of informal recovery systems is acknowledged and accommodative rather than prohibitive policy interventions have been undertaken. More especially, entrepreneurship opportunities are emerging in the context of local initiatives nested within a changing environment for urban waste management. Nevertheless, a critical lesson from the experience of the developing world is of the need for a set of support interventions to assist the growth of these emerging SMMEs in the waste economy, not least through the innovation of programmes of micro-credit support and business development services. The role of waste recovery as an element for livelihood creation demands the attention of local governments, NGOs and CBOs in developing world cities. In the context of policy development for African cities, some of the positive lessons of the Asian experience are worth further exploration in terms of informing future waste management planning.


Informal Sector Informal Economy Waste Collection Urban Forum Waste Recycling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anand, P.B., 1999: Waste management in Madras revisited, Environment and Urbanization, 11 (2), 161–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anon., 1992: Zabbaleen community develops new jobs to improve the environment, The Urban Age, 1 (1), 9.Google Scholar
  3. Baldisimo, J. and Lohani, B., 1988: Scavenging of municipal solid waste in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, Environmental Sanitation Reviews, 26, 1–109.Google Scholar
  4. Bartone, C., 1986: Recycling waste: the World Bank project on resource recovery, Development: Seeds of Change, 4, 35–39.Google Scholar
  5. Bava, S.C. and Mullahy, L., 1993: Making Brazil’s cities livable: NGOs and the recycling of human waste, Grassroots Development, 17, 12–19.Google Scholar
  6. Beall, J., 1997: Thoughts on poverty from a South Asian rubbish dump: gender, inequality and household waste, Bulletin, Institute of Development Studies, 28 (3), 73–90.Google Scholar
  7. Birkbeck, C., 1978: Self-employed proletarians in an informal factory: the case of Cali’s garbage dump, World Development, 6, 1173–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Birkbeck, C., 1979: Garbage, industry and the “vultures” of Cali, Colombia, in R. Bromley and C. Gerry (eds), Casual Work and Casual Poverty in Third World Cities, John Wiley, Chichester, 161–183.Google Scholar
  9. Blincow, M., 1986: Scavengers and recycling: a neglected domain of production, Labour, Capital and Society, 19, 94–115.Google Scholar
  10. Boyer, G., 1999: Riches in Rags, The Urban Age, 6 (4), 10.Google Scholar
  11. Bubel, A.Z., 1990: Waste picking and solid waste management, Environmental Sanitation News, 30, 53–66.Google Scholar
  12. Cook, L., 2000: Waste management to boost job creation, Business Day (Johannesburg), 25 May.Google Scholar
  13. De Kock, R., 1987: The garbage scavengers: picking up the pieces, Indicator South Africa, 4, 51–55.Google Scholar
  14. Furedy, C., 1984a: Survival strategies of the urban poor: scavenging and recuperation in Calcutta, GeoJournal, 8 (2), 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Furedy, C., 1984b: Socio-political aspects of the recovery and recycling of urban wastes in Asia, Conservation and Recycling, 7 (2–4), 167–173.Google Scholar
  16. Furedy, C., 1988: Enterprise with urban wastes, Development and Cooperation 6, 18–19.Google Scholar
  17. Furedy, C., 1989: Social considerations in solid waste management in Asian cities, Regional Development Dialogue, 10 (3), 13–38.Google Scholar
  18. Furedy, C., 1990: Social aspects of solid waste recovery in Asian cities, Environmental Sanitation News, 30, 2–52.Google Scholar
  19. Furedy, C., 1992a: Garbage: exploring non-conventional options in Asian Cities, Environment and Urbanization, 4 (2), 42–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Furedy, C., 1992b: Solid waste management: exploring non-conventional options in Asian cities, Paper 24 presented at the International Workshop Planning for Sustainable Urban Development, Cardiff 13–17 July.Google Scholar
  21. Furedy, C. and Alamgir, M., 1992: Street pickers of the poor?, Environment and Urbanization, 4 (2), 54–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Garner, G., 2000: Waste management in Johannesburg: what the iGoli 2002 plan envisages, Urban Green File 5 (3), 39–41.Google Scholar
  23. Halla, F. and Majani, B., 1999: Innovative ways for solid waste management in Dar-es-Salaam: toward stakeholder partnerships, Habitat International, 23, 351–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hardoy, J. and Satterthwaite, D., 1992: Environmental Problems in Third World Cities, International Institute for Environment and Development, London.Google Scholar
  25. Haynes, K. and El-Hakim, S., 1979: Appropriate technology and public policy: the urban waste management system of Cairo, Geographical Review, 69, 101–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hernandez, O., Rawlins, B. and Schwartz, R., 1999: Voluntary recycling in Quito: factors associated with participation in a pilot programme, Environment and Urbanization, 11 (2), 145–159.Google Scholar
  27. Huysman, M., 1994: Waste-picking as a survival strategy for women in Indian cities, Environment and Urbanization 6 (2).Google Scholar
  28. Johnson, H. and Wilson, G., 2000: Institutional sustainability: “community’ and waste management in Zimbabwe, Futures, 32, 301–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, Y-S, 1997: The privatisation of solid waste infrastructure and services in Asia, Third World Planning Review, 19, 139–162.Google Scholar
  30. Makovere, B., 1998: Informal waste collection as livelihood strategy in Johannesburg inner-city, Unpublished paper, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  31. Meyer, G., 1987: Waste-recycling in the informal sector: the example of refuse collectors in Cairo, Applied Geography and Development, 30, 78–94.Google Scholar
  32. Moreno, J.A., Rios, F.R. and Lardinois, I. 1999: Solid Waste Management in Latin America: The Role of Micro and Small Enterprises and Cooperatives, WASTE, Gouda, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  33. NHW Team, 1998: National Waste Management Strategy and Action Plans for South Africa: Situation Baseline Analysis Phase: Non-Hazardous Waste Annexure A, Unpublished report, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  34. Ojeda-Benitez, S., Armijo de Vega, C. and Ramirez-Berreto, M.E., 2000: The potential for recycling household waste: a case study from Mexicali, Mexico, Environment and Urbanization, 12, 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Omuta, G.E.D., 1986: The urban informal sector and environmental sanitation in Nigeria: the needless conflict, Habitat International, 10, 179–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Omuta, G.E.D., 1987: Urban solid waste generation and management in Nigeria, Habitat International, 11 (2), 77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pelling, M., 1999: Book Review “Solid Waste Management: Critical Issues for Developing Countries”, Third World Planning Review 21, 109–110.Google Scholar
  38. Poerbo, H., 1991: Urban solid waste management in Bandung: towards an integrated resource recovery system, Environment and Urbanization, 3 (1), 60–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Post, J., 2000: The problems and potentials of privatising solid waste management in Kumasi, Ghana, Habitat International, 23, 201–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Prasad, R.M. and Furedy, C., 1992: Small businesses from urban wastes- shoe renovation in Delhi, Environment and Urbanization, 4 (2), 59–60.Google Scholar
  41. Rogerson, C.M., 1999: Local economic development and urban poverty: the experience of post-apartheid South Africa, Habitat International, 23, 511–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Samonte, I., 2000: When ‘the promised land’ became nightmare, World of Work, 36, 14–15.Google Scholar
  43. Sicular, D.T., 1991: Pockets of peasants in Indonesian cities: the case of scavengers, World Development, 19, 137–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tevera, D., 1991: Urban solid waste management in sub-Saharan Africa: an introduction to environmental, financial and economic issues, Unpublished report, The World Bank, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  45. Tevera, D., 1993a: Urban waste management: eastern and southern Africa, in L. J. Mougeot and D. Masse (eds) Urban Environmental Management: Developing a Global Research Agenda, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, 204–222.Google Scholar
  46. Tevera, D., 1993b: Waste recycling as a livelihood in the informal sector: the case of Harare’s Teviotdale dump scavengers, in L. Zinyama, D. Tevera and S. Cumming (eds), Harare: The Growth and Problems of the City, University of Zimbabwe Press, Harare, 83–96.Google Scholar
  47. Tevera, D., 1994: Dump scavenging in Gaborone, Botswana: anachronism or refuge occupation of the poor?, Geografiska Annaler 76B, 21–32.Google Scholar
  48. Tevera-Mubvani and Associates, 1995: Zimbabwe Urban Solid waste management study, Unpublished report prepared for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Harare.Google Scholar
  49. Thomas-Hope, E. (ed), 1999: Solid Waste Management: Critical Issues for Developing Countries, Canoe Press, University of the West Indies.Google Scholar
  50. Van Beukering, P., 1997: Waste recovery in Bombay: a socio-economic and environmental assessment of different waste management systems, Third World Planning Review, 19, 163–186.Google Scholar
  51. Vincentian Missionaries, 1998: The Payatas environmental development programme: micro-enterprise promotion and involvement in solid waste management in Quezon City, Environment and Urbanization, 10 (2), 55–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian M. Rogerson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburg

Personalised recommendations