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Resources 2017, 6(4), 52; doi:10.3390/resources6040052

Waste Picker Organizations and Their Contribution to the Circular Economy: Two Case Studies from a Global South Perspective

1
Department of Geography, University of Victoria, P.O. BOX 3060, STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3R4, Canada
2
CONICET, Instituto de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Buenos Aires, B1876XD Bernal, Argentina
3
Deptartment of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Division of Urban Design and Planning, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
4
Center of Engineering, Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC), Modelling and Applied Social Sciences, Av. dos Estados, 5001—Bangú, Santo André, SP 09210-580, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 August 2017 / Revised: 8 September 2017 / Accepted: 23 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
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Abstract

The discussion on the circular economy (CE) has attracted a rising interest within global policy and business as a way of increasing the sustainability of production and consumption. Yet the literature mostly portrays a Global North perspective. There is a diverse spectrum of community-based organizations playing important roles in resource recovery and transformation, particularly, but not only, in Global South countries, providing innovative examples for grassroots involvement in waste management and in the CE. This article proposes to add a Southern lens, situated in the context of waste picker organizations, to the concept of CE. The discursive framework in this article couples ecological economy (EE) with social/solidarity economy (SSE), focusing not only on environmental sustainability but also on social, economic, political and cultural dimensions involved in production, consumption and discard. We acknowledge that grassroots movements contribute to policy making and improve urban waste management systems. The paper outlines two empirical studies (Argentina, Brazil) that illustrate how waste picker organizations perform selective waste collection services, engage with municipalities and industries, and practice the CE. The research reveals that social and political facets need to be added to the debate about the CE, linking environmental management and policy with community development and recognizing waste pickers as protagonists in the CE. Our findings emphasize a need for a change of persisting inequalities in public policy by recognizing the importance of popular waste management praxis and knowledge, ultimately redefining the CE. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; Global South; waste pickers; reverse logistics; solidarity economy circular economy; Global South; waste pickers; reverse logistics; solidarity economy
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gutberlet, J.; Carenzo, S.; Kain, J.-H.; Mantovani Martiniano de Azevedo, A. Waste Picker Organizations and Their Contribution to the Circular Economy: Two Case Studies from a Global South Perspective. Resources 2017, 6, 52.

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