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Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 233https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2
Laser, Stefan; Schlitz, Nicolas

Waste and Globalised Inequalities


Global capitalism has changed drastically during the past three decades. Key to this is its exponential growth, coupled with an enormous production of waste. The resultant ‘global waste problem’ in fact involves different types of waste and gives rise to variegated practices of waste handling at multiple sites. In this special issue, the authors discuss waste through a focus on inequalities. Contrary to the all-embracing notion of a 'global waste problem', there is nothing (normatively) equal in the way people are entangled in, and affected by, the production of waste and the processes of wasting. The consequences of waste and pollution are shared unequally, laying the ground for vast injustices. The articles in this issue encourage a more critical and situated understanding of waste-related inequalities and their global connections. Scholars and activists alike need to face frictions through waste in order to make sense of the particular global connections and inequalities related to changing patterns of wasting.


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Inhalt dieser Ausgabe
Laser, Stefan; Schlitz, Nicolas

Facing Frictions: Waste and Globalised Inequalities

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 5-32https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-5
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords


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Schulz, Yvan

Scrapping ‘Irregulars’: China’s Recycling Policies, Development Ethos and Peasants Turned Entrepreneurs

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 33-59https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-33
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

 Nowadays, ‘e-waste’, or discarded electrical and electronic equipment (DEEE), is synonymous with environmental degradation and global injustice. In China, the central government has come up with a series of regulations and policies in recent years to deal with the challenge posed by both foreign and domestic DEEE. It justified this programme by invoking the necessity to protect China’s environment. This article shows how Beijing’s efforts to ‘formalise’ DEEE collection and recycling concentrate activities in the hands of a limited number of large companies, and cause the exclusion of a myriad of actors and entities, in particular self-made entrepreneurs with roots in the Chinese countryside.


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e-waste, recycling, informal sector, exclusion, China

Schlitz, Nicolas

Recycling Economies and the Use-Value of Waste: Scrap Shops in Kolkata, India

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 60-94https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-60
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Informal recycling networks in the Global South have stimulated debates about political economies of recycling in post-colonial contexts. This article retrieves the underrated Marxian notion of use-value to explore how used plastic materials are revalued in the plastic recycling networks of Kolkata, India. Focusing on the role of scrap shops within recycling networks, the relation between informal and formal economic spaces is discussed with reference to Sanyal’s (2007) distinction between needs-based and accumulation economies. It is argued that scrap shops perform the crucial role of translating concrete use-value of wasted plastics into new potential social use-value. Thereby, the analysis contributes to understanding the transformation of value between informal and formal economic space in post-colonial political economy of recycling in India.

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List of Interviews


Int2: small-size scrap shop; interview conducted in Old Kolkata on Nov. 19, 2016.


Int5: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in Old Kolkata on Nov. 25, 2016.


Int6: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in North Kolkata on Dec. 3, 2016.


Int7: small-size scrap shop; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Dec. 4, 2016.


Int8: small-size scrap shop; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Dec. 4, 2016.


Int9: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Dec. 4, 2016.


Int13: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in Old Kolkata on Dec. 10, 2016.


Int14: small-size scrap shop; interview conducted in Old Kolkata on Dec. 10, 2016.


Int17: big-size scrap shop; conducted in East Kolkata on Dec. 15, 2016.


Int22: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Jan. 19, 2017.


Int25: middle-size scrap shop; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Jan. 24, 2017.


Int26: big-size scrap shop; conducted in East Kolkata on Jan. 24, 2017.


Int30: small-size scrap shop; conducted in South Kolkata on Jan. 26, 2017. Int31: Kolkata Municipal Corporation; interview conducted on Jan. 30, 2017.


Int34: NGO representative; interview conducted in East Kolkata on Feb. 6, 2017.


Int37: Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology; interview in Haldia on Feb. 8, 2017.


Int42: plastic manufacturer; interview conducted in Old Kolkata on Feb. 14, 2017.


Int43: West Bengal Pollution Control Board; interview conducted on Feb. 17, 2017. WasteWalk3: WasteWalk conducted in Old Kolkata on Nov. 2, 2016

manual scavenging, caste-based discrimination, technological solutions, rehabilitation schemes, graded hierarchy of caste


Iyer, Ivan

The ‘Abolishing’ of Manual Scavenging: Negotiations with Caste and Occupation in Ahmedabad

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 95-115https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-95
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Despite laws prohibiting the occupation of manual scavenging, it is widely prevalent in India. While it is recognised as a hazardous and undignified occupation that involves the manual handling of excreta, it is also recognised as a form of caste-based discrimination that is performed by the lowest Dalit castes in India. In Ahmedabad, manual scavenging and sanitation work is performed by the Bhangis who lack access to alternative occupations and bear the brunt of untouchability. While sanitation workers, activists, NGOs and trade unions attempt to uncover the prevalence of manual scavenging in Ahmedabad, government bodies continue to deny the existence of manual scavenging and caste based discrimination as such. In this paper, I look at the ways in which the occupation of manual scavenging is articulated, contested and negotiated by the aforementioned actors in Ahmedabad.


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manual scavenging, caste-based discrimination, technological solutions, rehabilitation schemes, graded hierarchy of caste


de Carvalho Vallin, Isabella; Lopes Francelino Gonçalves Dias, Sylmara

The Double Burden of Environmental Injustice in a Female Waste Pickers Cooperative in Brazil

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 116-144https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-116
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

This   article   examines   the   relationship   between   the   environmental  injustice  and  the  consubstantiality  present  in  everyday  life  of  female waste pickers from a cooperative in Brazil. For the French materialist feminists perspectives, consubstantiality means intersection among class, race, and  gender.  In  this  case-study,  were  interviewed  16  female  waste  pickers  of  the  Rose  Cooperative  in  Flowers  Garden  Slum,  City  of  São  Paulo.  In  order  to  analyses  the  consubstantiality,  three  concepts  were  adopted:  urban  spatial  segregation to understand class aspects; racial division of labour for race; and, sexual  division  of  labour  for  gender  issues.  These  three  concepts  are  related  to environmental injustice and form the framework applied to analyse waste pickers’ housing conditions and workplaces. Environmental injustice in housing was identified. Environmental risks associated with the waste picking activity and the infrastructure conditions of the cooperative were also recognised. It has been observed that women are more exposed to risks on account of the double burden. The consubstantiality defines the daily life of the housing and working conditions of the female waste pickers. It was concluded that the female waste pickers are exposed to a ‘ double burden of environmental injustice’: one related to housing risks and the other one to the precariousness of their work.


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Hollway, Wendy/Jefferson, Tony (2008): The free association narrative interview method. In: Given, Lisa M. (ed.): The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. Sevenoaks: Sage, 296–315. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE: Censo 2010. http://www. censo2010.ibge.gov.br, 30.6.2016.


Kergoat, Danièle (2003): Divisão Sexual do Trabalho e Relações Sociais de Sexo. In: Emilio, Marli/Teixeira, Marilane/Nobre, Miriam/Godinho, Tatau (eds.): Trabalho e Cidadania Ativa para as Mulheres: Desafios para as Políticas Públicas. São Paulo: Coordenadoria Especial da Mulher. https://doi. org/10.1590/S0101-33002010000100005

Kergoat, Danièle (2010): Dinâmica e consubstancialidade das relações sociais. In: Novos Estudos CEBRAP 86, 93-103.


Leubolt, Bernhard/Romão, Wagner de Melo (2017): Social-Ecological Innovation in Brazil: The collective Survival Strategy of the collectors of Recyclable Material. In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik 33(2), 36-57. https://doi.org/10.20446/ JEP-2414-3197-33-2-36


Movimento Nacional de Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis – MNCR (2014): Mulheres são maioria entre Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis. http://www. mncr.org.br/noticias/noticias-regionais/mulheres-sao-maioria-entre-catadoresorganizados-em-cooperativas, 23.4.2016.


Martinez-Alier, Joan (2003): The Environmentalism of the poor: a study of ecological conflicts and valuation. Cheltenham/Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.


Neumayer, Eric/Plümper, Thomas (2007): The Gendered Nature of Natural Disasters: The Impact of Catastrophic Events on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy, 1981-2002. In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97(3), 551–566. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.2007.00563.x

Pádua, José Augusto (2002): Um sopro de destruição: pensamento político e crítica ambiental no Brasil escravista, 1786-1888. Zahar.


Porto, Marcelo F.S. (2011): Complexidade, processos de vulnerabilização e justiça ambiental: um ensaio de epistemologia política. In: Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais 93, 31-58. https://doi.org/10.4000/rccs.133


Quijano, Aníbal (2005): Colonialidade do poder, Eurocentrismo e América Latina. In: Lander, Edgardo (ed.): A Colonialidade do saber. Eurocentrismo e ciências sociais. Perspectivas latino-americanas. Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 227-278.


Samson, Melanie (2009): Refusing to be Cast Aside: Waste Pickers Organising Around the World. Cambridge: Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).

Secretaria Municipal do Verde e Meio Ambiente – SVMA/ Secretaria de Planejamento do município de São Paulo – SEMPLA (2002): Atlas ambiental do município de São Paulo. São Paulo.

Silva, Sandro Pereira/Goes, Fernanda Lira/Alvarez, Albino Rodrigues (2013): Situação social das catadoras e dos catadores de material reciclável e reutilizável. Brasília: Ipea.


Tavares, Rossana (2015): Indiferença: espaços urbanos de resistência na perspectiva das desigualdades de Gênero. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Urbanismos. Tese de doutorado.


Unger, Nancy. (2008). The Role of Gender in Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice, 1(3), 115-120. Villaça, Flávio (2011): São Paulo: segregação urbana e desigualdade. In: Estudos avançados 25(71), 37-58. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-40142011000100004


Wilson, David C./Rodic, Ljiljana/Scheinberg, Anne/Velis, Costas A./ Alabaster, Graham (2012): Comparative analysis of solid waste management in 20 cities. Waste Management & Research 30(3), 237-254. https://doi. org/10.1177/0734242X12437569


Wirth, I.G. (2013): Mulheres na triagem, homens na prensa: questões de gênero em cooperativas de catadores. São Paulo: Annablume/Fapesp.


List of interviews


Interview 1: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, A.C.P.], 25 years old, white, 10/14/2016, translated by authors.


Interview 2: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, M.C.S.], 37 years old, black, 10/14/2016, translated by authors.


Interview 3: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, J.M.], 36 years old, black, 10/14/2016, translated by authors.


Interview 4: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, H.D.S.], 48 years old, black, 10/21/2016, translated by authors.


Interview 5: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, F.C.B.], 48 years old, black 10/21/2016, translated by authors.


Interview 6: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, V.S.], 31 years old, white 10/28/2016, translated by authors


Interview 7: slum dweller/waste picker [descripton, R.E.F.], 25 years old, black 10/28/2016, translated by authors

 waste, informality, marginalisation, Global North/South


Hafner, Robert; Zirkl, Frank

Waste De_marginalised? A Comparative Analysis of the Socio-Economic Effects of In_formal Recycling Activities. Argentina, Brazil and Germany Revisited

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 145-167https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-145
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Waste collection and recycling increasingly appears on the socioeconomic and political agenda both in the Global South and North. In the case of waste pickers, Latin America has a long-standing past of dealing with informal and marginalised activities, slowly making their way towards formalisation. In this paper we make two arguments. First, on a conceptual level, we highlight the implication of the semantics and synonyms of waste, which are then reflected in the ambivalence and de-dichotomised way of understanding de_marginalisation and the in_formal. Second, we empirically compare cases from Argentina and Brazil with Germany to highlight the pitfalls of Eurocentric perspectives on in_formal waste management.


Bierbrauer, Laura von (2011): Recuperadores urbanos. Abfallsammeln als Überlebensstrategie auf den Straßen von Buenos Aires. Berlin, Münster: LIT.


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Braun, Joachim von/Gatzweiler, Franz (2014): Marginality - An Overview and Implications for Policy. In: Braun, Joachim von/Gatzweiler, Franz W. (eds.): Marginality. Addressing the Nexus of Poverty, Exclusion and Ecology. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-0077061-4_1


Brissac-Peixoto, Nelson (2009): Latin American Cities: the new urban formlessness. In: Biron, Rebecca (ed.): City/art. The urban scene in Latin America. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 233–250. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822390732011


Catterfeld, Philipp/Knecht, Alban (eds.) (2015): Flaschensammeln. Überleben in der Stadt. Konstanz, München: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft Konstanz.


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International Labour Office (2015): The changing nature of jobs. Geneva. Inverardi-Ferri, Carlo (2017): The enclosure of ‘waste land’. Rethinking informality and dispossession. In: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 26, 1–14.


Keller, Reiner (2009): Müll - Die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion des Wertvollen. Die öffentliche Diskussion über Abfall in Deutschland und Frankreich. Wiesbaden: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-91731-3


Komlosy, Andrea (2015): Informalität aus globalhistorischer Perspektive. In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik, 31, 36–58. https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-314-36


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Mahnkopf, Birgit/Altvater, Elmar (2015): Informelle Arbeit und das Leben in Unsicherheit. In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik, 31, 12–35. https://doi. org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-31-4-12


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Marginal Regions in the 21st Century. Cham: Springer, 13–28. https://doi. org/10.1007/978-3-319-50998-3_2


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 waste, informality, marginalisation, Global North/South


Eitel, Kathrin

Matter in and out of Place: A Story About Wastefulness, Hybridity, and Flows of Plastic (Photo Essay)

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 166-196https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-167
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Plastics are in our oceans, creating garbage islands, contaminating seawater, and are a serious threat to the world’s environment. Therefore, plastic and its debris are highly visible in scientific and societal discourses and common knowledge. Looking from a different perspective of waste and its debris, especially in its relation to question of what is (from) human and what not, we may, from a phenomenological perspective, examine different angles of the visibility and non-visibility of plastic. The unwanted, or the dirt, which is called a ‘matter out of place’, according to Mary Douglas, is omnipresent. But if dirt is out of place for one person, couldn’t it conversely then be in place for someone else? The following photo-essay aims to answer this question while focusing on the visibility and invisibility of material waste in its environment. Concretely, it allows an insight into the ecology of waste.

Barad, Karen (2007): Meeting the Universe Halfway. Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke Univ. Press. https://doi. org/10.1215/9780822388128


Discard Studies (2019): Social studies of waste, pollution & externalities. https:// discardstudies.com/what-is-discard-studies/, 03.01.2019.


Douglas, Mary (2001 [1966]): Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge.


Gigault, Julien / Halle, Alexandra Ter / Baudrimont, Magalie / Pascal, PierreYves / Gauffre, Fabienne / Phi, Thuy-Linh / El Hadri, Hind / Grassl, Bruno / Reynaud, Stéphanie (2018): Current opinion: What is a nanoplastic? In: Environmental Pollution 235, 1030–1034. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.024


Hawkins, Gay (2006): The Ethics of Waste. How We Relate to Rubbish. Lanham u. a.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. Jambeck, Jenna R. / Geyer, Roland / Wilcox, Chris / Siegler, Theodore R. / Perryman, Miriam / Andrady, Anthony / Narayan, Ramani / Law, Kara Lavender (2015): Marine pollution. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. In: Science 347/6223, 768-771. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1260352


Reid, Alex / Haissoune, Amick / Ferber, Paul (2017): Koh Seh Environmental Assessment. Marine Survey Report. https://www. marineconservationcambodia.org/blogs-news-and-history/mcc-newsupdates/150-2017-marine-survey-reports-koh-seh-man-prang-and-angkrong, 03.01.2019.


Liboiron, Max

Max Liboiron. Discard Studies: Doing Science Differently (Interview)

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 197-216https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-197
  • Abstract
  • Keywords

The interview with Max Liboiron, managing editor of Discard Studies and director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), deals with the establishment of the blog Discard Studies, the principles and practices of the feminist, anti-colonial research lab CLEAR (Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research), and a critical perspective on waste and plastic pollution. Liboiron is a feminist environmental scientist, based at Memorial University, who works with innovative methods and considers herself an activist. Our conversation functions as an alternative introduction to matters of waste and globalised inequalities.


Laser, Stefan

Who Carries the Weight of Digital Technologies? What is its Weight Anyway? (Essay)

Sprache: ENGLISHSeiten: 217-227https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-35-2-217
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

“Reassembling Rubbish: Worlding Electronic Waste” (2018, MIT Press) is the new book of Canadian geographer Josh Lepawsky. It comes with a plea for a new kind of politics, and it tackles fundamental ethical questions, most importantly: what is the right thing to do with e-waste? The discussion about e-waste in Europe is still in its infancy, especially when we compare it to the numerous books and articles that discuss the information economy via themes such as Big Data or automation. This is a pity, because Lepawsky shows us that we can learn more about these very things through the lens of discarded electronics. After all, a lot is at stake: reducing the overall amount of toxic waste, while also tackling inequalities that are inscribed in the global recycling industries of e-waste.

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Gille, Zsuzsa (2007): From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


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Lepawsky, Josh (2014): The Changing Geography of Global Trade in Electronic Discards: Time to Rethink the e-Waste Problem. In: The Geographical Journal 181 (2), 147–159. https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12077


Lepawsky, Josh (2018): Reassembling Rubbish: Worlding Electronic Waste. Cambridge: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/11111.001.0001


Lepawsky, Josh/Mcnabb, Chris (2010): Mapping International Flows of Electronic Waste. In: The Canadian Geographer 54 (2), 177–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/ j.1541-0064.2009.00279.x


Liboiron, Max (2018): The What and the Why of Discard Studies. In: Discard Studies. September 1, 2018. https://discardstudies.com/2018/09/01/the-whatand-the-why-of-discard-studies/, 28.02.2019.


MacBride, Samantha (2011): Recycling Reconsidered: The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States. Cambridge: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/8829.001.0001


Minter, Adam (2013): Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade. London et al.: Bloomsbury Press.


Oteng-Ababio, Martin/van der Velden, Maja (2019): “Welcome to Sodom” – Six Myths about Electronic Waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. SMART. January 16, 2019. https://www.smart.uio.no/blog/welcome-to-sodom.html, 29.02.2019.


Sormani, Philippe/Bovet, Alain/Strebel, Ignaz (eds., 2019): Repair Work Ethnographies: Revisiting Breakdown, Relocating Materiality. Singapore: Springer Singapore.


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