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The World's Scavengers

Salvaging for Sustainable Consumption and Production

Martin Medina

Medina tells us that up to 2% of the urban population in developing countries survives by salvaging materials from waste for recycling, which represents up to 64 million scavengers in the world today. Despite these numbers, we know little about the impact of scavenging on global capitalism development. The author examines its historical evolution and its linkages with formal and informal sector productive activities in capitalist and non-capitalist societies, in case studies from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Egypt, the Philippines, and India. His new book radically alters popular perceptions on scavenging, demonstrating that many widely-held beliefs are wrong: scavenging is not primarily the activity of the poor nor is it a strictly marginal activity; the economic impact of scavenging is significant and can increase industrial competitiveness; and scavenging can be compatible with a sustainable waste management system. Scavenging represents an adaptive response to poverty, yet at the same time it can be a resource to cities, whose contributions should be recognized and understood. « less more »
AltaMira Press
Pages: 318Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/8
978-0-7591-0940-7 • Hardback • May 2007 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7591-0941-4 • Paperback • May 2007 • $40.00 • (£24.95)
978-0-7591-1380-0 • eBook • May 2007 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
Martin Medina is the Senior Policy Researcher at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Japan.
1 Theoretical Perspectives on Scavenging
2 Scavenging in Historical Perspective
3 Globalization, Solid Waste Management and Scavenging in the Third World
4 Scavenging and Sustainable Consumption and Production
5 Methodological Issues: How to Study Scavenging
6 Mexico
7 Colombia
8 Argentina
9 The Phillippines
10 Egypt
11 Globalization and Scavenging
12 Conclusions
This unique book offers a common ground for dialogue but also a basis for serious research, campaigning, and advocacy.
Development in Practice, November 2008

The author provides a convincing set of motivations for writing a book about scavenging…. Medina's book succeeds in many of its stated objectives and makes a number of important points about scavenging activities….An impressive compendium of scavenging research to data and would be useful for any students or layperson interested in the subject.
Journal Of Industrial Ecology, August 2008

There are two reasons to be interested in scavenging as a phenomenon. First, it is of significance in and of itself as a source of income for the urban poor. Second, it is an example of the operation of what is sometimes termed the "informal" economy. This book makes a significant contribution in both these senses. Policy makers interested in improving the wellbeing of scavengers, and analysts interested in the nature of the informal economy, will learn a lot from this well researched volume.
Ravi Kanbur, T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Cornell University