The informal recycling sector makes an important and often undervalued contribution to solid waste management in many developing countries. They sit at the base of what is often now a global supply chain for recycled materials, and like other primary producers could benefit from initiatives to add value to the materials they collect. Professor David C Wilson’s team at Imperial College London have just published a new tool, based on Value Chain Analysis (VCA) as developed to improve the livelihood of poor farmers in Africa, using the iconic Zabaleen recyclers in Cairo as the demonstration case. VCA provides a significant and powerful addition to the analytical tools available for improving the position of the informal recycling sector. The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, can be downloaded free-of-charge until 17 September 2016.
The informal recycling sector can achieve recycling rates of 20-40%, significantly reducing the burden falling on the city for managing the remaining solid waste. However, there are serious issues of poor working conditions, child labour and uncontrolled dumping of residual wastes. Considerable efforts have been put into integrating the informal recyclers into a city’s formal solid waste management system, to everyone’s benefit: the recyclers can work under cleaner conditions, earn a better livelihood and educate their children; recycling rates can potentially increase; and the transition can facilitate environmental control, as well as bringing the ‘informal’ sector inside the legal and tax systems. DCW has been actively researching this area for more than 10 years; his 2006 review has more than 180 citations, while a 2012 paper developed the InteRa framework and tool for use in designing interventions for informal sector integration. He first researched the potential for adapting Value Chain Analysis (VCA) for use in this sector in 2009 with Dr Sanjay Gupta in India, and was delighted to have the opportunity in summer 2015 to carry out fieldwork with the GIZ National Solid Waste Management Programme project team in Egypt on this paper. The lead author is Remi Jaligot, then a Masters student at Imperial College London, and the other co-authors are Prof Chris Cheeseman of Imperial and Berti Shaker and Joachim Stretz of GIZ Egypt.
Professor David C Wilson gave the keynote presentation to open the Intersessional Conference on Building Partnerships for Moving towards Zero Waste, held in Tokyo, Japan from 16 to 18 February 2011. His subject was ‘Acting Alone to Partnerships – Strategic Approach for Sustainable Municipal Waste Management’, in which he drew in particular on his recent work for UN-Habitat. The conference contributed to deliberation on the theme of Waste Management at the 19th session of theUnited Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in May 2011, which in turn will feed into the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012. DCW’s presentation is now available.
The Tokyo conference was organized by the Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in close collaboration with the United NationsCentre for Regional Development (UNCRD) and the Ministry of the Environment Japan.
The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit. The CSD meets annually in New York, in two-year cycles, with each cycle focusing on clusters of specific thematic and cross-sectoral issues: solid waste management is one of the current themes, as outlined in the multi-year programme of work (2003-2017)(E/CN.17/2003/6).
CSD-19 is the policy session where intergovernmental decisions are made on policy options for overcoming obstacles and challenges in solid waste management, while taking into account lessons learned and best practices in relation to the theme. The Tokyo conference aimed build on the outcome and recommendations of the CSD-18 (review session) as well as the “International Consultative Meeting on Expanding Waste Management Services in Developing Countries,” held in March 2010 as an intersessional meeting for CSD-18.
The February 2011 conference brought together relevant stakeholders (including representatives from cities, public waste utilities, private sector, key research and policy institutes, community-managed waste management programmes, and international institutions, among others), to discuss possible policy recommendations that would contribute to expanding waste management services in developing countries. The conference aimed to identify constraints and obstacles in the implementation of waste management policies, and to explore ways and means in which these stakeholders could partner with each other to strengthen their collaborative efforts to deal with growing waste management challenges in the perspective of ever increasing urbanization and consumption trends.