Slim pickin's: Supporting waste pickers in the ecological modernization of urban waste management systems | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


Informal sector scavengers or waste pickers have been unrecognized stakeholders on the fringes of the urban waste landscape since the nineteenth century. Although solid waste systems of both rich and poor countries continue to change radically in the process of (ecological) modernization, the living conditions and position of waste pickers have changed little, and then usually for the worse. Development approaches focusing on pickers' welfare, capacities and rights consistently fail to help. A systems approach that instead focuses on the opportunities provided by the modernization process provides a stronger framework for legitimizing the role of pickers and strengthening their livelihoods.


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