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From waste to resource : the trade in wastes and global recycling economies.

Gregson, N. and Crang, M.A. (2015) 'From waste to resource : the trade in wastes and global recycling economies.', Annual review of environment and resources., 40 (1). pp. 151-176.


We outline the frameworks that shape and hold apart waste debates in and about Global North and South and that hinder analysis of flows between them. Typically waste is addressed as municipal waste, resulting in a focus on domestic consumption and urban governance, and a resulting emphasis on cities and the national scale. The prevailing ways of addressing the increasingly global flows of wastes between North and South are those of global environmental justice and are underpinned by the geographical imagination encoded in the Basel Convention. New research on the trades in used goods and recycling in developing countries challenges these accounts. It shows that arguments about dumping on the South need revision. ‘Wastes’ are secondary resources for developing countries, ‘harvesting’ them is a significant economic activity, and consequent resource recovery is a key part of the global economy. Four areas of further research are identified: (1) changing patterns of global ‘harvesting’; (2) attempts to re-scale resource recovery and the challenges faced; (3) the geopolitics of resource recovery; (4) changes in resource recovery in developing countries.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Municipal waste, Sustainable consumption, Waste pickers, Global environmental justice, Resource recovery, Global South.
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Status:Not peer-reviewed
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Publisher statement:Posted with permission from Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Volume 40: 151-176 © 2015 by Annual Reviews,
Date accepted:21 July 2015
Date deposited:21 October 2015
Date of first online publication:November 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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