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What is the Informal Recycling Sector?

Around the world, millions of people make a living though recovering and selling recyclable materials from waste. Whilst these activities are predominantly found in low and middle income countries, the informal recycling sector (IRS) also has a notable presence in high income countries. Over the last few decades, attention has been drawn to the fact that informal recycling is an important component of solid waste management systems – particularly in the Global South.

What is the Informal Recycling Sector?

There is a huge amount of diversity in terms of the different actors that make up the IRS and the activities that they undertake. For example, the IRS might include: autonomous individuals who act independently to pick out recyclable waste from street bins or from litter; individuals or groups working to recover recyclables from open dumpsites or unmanaged landfills; associations of recyclers who have united to seek improvement in their working conditions; and legally registered cooperative groups of recyclers engaging with local authorities and formally contracting out their services.

Our Research Activity

Find out more about our research work about the IRS below:

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Dr Costas Velis addressed the high level delegates of the KfW Development Finance Forum, explaining how solving the solid waste...

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Speakers from Leeds’ School of Civil Engineering and institutions in Brazil delivered a workshop themed on waste management and recycling...

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A research team from School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, led by Dr Costas Velis participated in the ExpoCatadores 2016  in Belo Horizonte

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