Session 7

Integrating informal sector recycling into waste management – Insights from value chain analysis of 3 Asian Countries
Sanjay K Gupta
Skat Consulting Ltd., Switzerland

In most developing countries the informal sector offers opportunities for survival to a large number of unskilled and semi-skilled migrants with no access to employment in the formal sector. Entry into the informal recycling sector is the easiest as it requires no skill and investment. But work in this sector is usually insecure, low earning and carried out under appalling health and occupational conditions, often inhuman. Though the technology for reprocessing remains basic with little or no concern for pollution prevention, occupational safety, or the quality of products, yet it has been growing consistently, mainly in the small and tiny scale sector waste dealing and reprocessing area. This informal recycling sector continues to create new jobs, reducing the burden on municipality, saving space required for landfills/open dumping and also on natural systems, through both extraction as well as reducing the ill effects of disposal. But often neither recognized by municipalities nor taken into consideration in city’s recycling targets or programs, the informal recycling needs to made the pillar for enhancing further improvements in both the job quality as well as recycling sector itself.
This paper is based on a study of three countries, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines on its informal recycling sector’s contribution in municipal waste management. The study attempted to understand what kind of value-chain development opportunities are presented by a deeper understanding of urban informal recycling sector? Could linking with organizations that represent poor communities help improve the governance and regulation of targeted communities or the poor (in this case waste pickers) and in turn the recycling industries too? Could linkages with comprehensive city planning initiatives help mobilize more resources for, and improve governance of, high potential sectors, in this case recycling of common inorganic materials?