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The informal recycling sector (IRS) plays a key role in delivering waste management services worldwide, particularly in countries where formal waste management systems are poorly organized or non-existent. However, the contribution of the IRS to the circular economy isn’t well understood, due to the challenges associated with data collection and the generalisability of that data.

Project Waste Action Plan in Nepal is supported by GRID-Arendal together with University of Leeds (UoL) to aims to quantify the contribution of IRS to plastic pollution prevention. The project aims to develop and road-test a methodology to gather data on informal recycling sector productivity which is both scientifically defensible and repeatable in diverse global contexts. Analysing the knowledge of informal recycling sector activities and materials markets to planning the implementation of the methodological road-test in Nepal as well as providing the resources and expertise to carry out the sampling.

Without a systematic, methodologically robust, and independent (from individual stakeholder agendas) effort to quantify the sector’s contribution to plastic pollution mitigation, waste pickers will continue to suffer from marginalisation and stigmatisation. In fact, one can argue that the only tangible on-the-ground solution to scale up plastic pollution prevention is to heavily invest in inclusive efforts to support better working conditions, profitability and wider material targeting for the IRS.


GRID Arendal

University of Leeds

Doko Recyclers

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