Session 10

Compare and Contrast: Informal Recycling in the EU, US and Around the World
Portia Sinnott1, Anne Scheinberg2, Jelena Nesic3
1MS+, United States of America; 2Springloop, The Netherlands; 3Democratic Transition Initiative, Serbia

Most recycling in the “new EU” and pre-accession countries is done by hundreds of thousands – if not millions — of informal recyclers, many of them Roma. As the EU consolidates and modernizes waste management, the informal recyclers’ livelihoods are becoming more precarious and are often directly threatened. In the US a similar but different scenario is being played out. Pensioners, homeless and disenfranchised individuals scavenging for container deposits are also providing a valuable but often disrespected service. Are there ways to address these issues and turn them in to win-wins for all concerned?
The presenters are co-authors of “From Collision to Collaboration – Integrating Informal Recyclers and Re-use Operators in Europe: A Review” which was awarded Waste Management & Research’s September 2016 Editor’s Choice. They are currently conducting a related survey in the US. They will compare and contrasts the informal recyclers’ plight and opportunities in the US and the EU as well as around the world.