Beyond Smart Cities and Circular Economies: Urbanisation and Waste Pickers in Taipei, Hong Kong and Shenzhen

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In cities, waste disposal and recycling relies on the labor of frontline workers - individual scavengers, small and medium-sized recycling stores, recyclers and cleaners. These workers provide near-zero-cost recycling services to businesses and governments, effectively contributing to the 'cleaning' of cities. However, because waste has always been considered an abomination, waste recycling workers are commonly associated with dirt, disorder and obsolescence, and are often excluded from aspiring to be clean, orderly and modern cities.

As zero-waste and sustainable development have become issues of concern for governments, urban renewal and modernization of waste management systems are also having an impact on frontline workers. This report delves into the world of frontline workers in the recycling industry in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, discussing how to improve the working conditions of these workers in the face of urbanization, and reflecting on how to build a more just and equitable green industry.

Download English report