Studying a diversity of waste forms (such as mining, municipal solid, industrial, military) and technologies (such as landfilling, incineration, mining) through diverse theoretical (such as governance, governmentality, cultural identity, memory, neo-colonialism), and methodological approaches (participant observation, in-depth interviews, focus groups, action research, surveys). Primary Investigators:

An ongoing and multi-faceted examination of the relationship between food production and the generation of waste. Lead researchers:

This project aims at explaining the challenges and potential solutions in improving living conditions in informal settlements in cities of the Global South, via co-production in waste management. In informal settlements, poorly connected to formal services, waste pickers often collect and separate household solid waste. This activity results in many benefits to the urban community, as it improves residents’ quality of life and environmental health, generates income, and reduces the environmental footprint of the city. Yet, the waste pickers are one of the most excluded and impoverished segments of society. Many waste management programs have been launched to improve this situation, but both in policy and research there is an increasing concern with the knowing-doing-gap: the relationship between the goal of a sustainable waste management and what is achieved. The research questions are: how are waste management programs translated into practice in informal settlements? What are the organizational, social, and spatial difficulties encountered in the organizing of waste management services? How can such difficulties be overcome? The questions are answered through a) case studies of three cities (Diadema, Kisumu and Managua) where different participatory waste management programs have already been implemented b) interactive workshops with waste actors in each city, and c) scholar seminars in the cities to compare and contextualize the findings among a diverse set of stakeholders and academics. A relational understanding of organizing and space, influenced by Action-Net and Actor-Network Theory is the theoretical starting-point. Lead Researcher:

The daily generation of large volumes of solid waste represents one of the most critical challenges for cities worldwide. In the Global South, approximately 1% of the urban population works in informal and organized selective waste collection, separation and commercialization. The Participatory Sustainable Waste Management (PSWM) project, a University Partnership in Development project between the University of São Paulo and the University of Victoria has focused on formal and informal waste management in the context of the cities in the Global South. These action oriented research interventions have studies the challenges in cooperative recycling in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, between 2006 and 2012. A follow-up project (the Coopcent ABC – SENAES/MTE 004 project), funded by the Ministry of Solidarity Economy of Brazil, is a continuation of the PSWM initiative and focuses particularly on scaling up experiences in coop recycling and strengthening cooperative networks for collective commercialization. The research uses a situated urban political ecology theoretical framework to analyze daily practices in solid waste management for structural change. The methodology applied is participatory and relies on workshops, interviews, diagraming, focus groups, and participatory observation. Lead Researcher:

The Community-based Research Lab collaborates locally, regionally, and internationally with other community-based initiatives and research centres. The laboratory also draws on knowledge generated through the lived experiences of marginalized groups such as informal and organized recyclers. The result is the exploration of more sustainable, equitable, and environmentally sound models of waste reduction and management. Changes to existing waste management practices are essential for climate change mitigation to be successful, as current patterns of consumption drive an unsustainable linear system of wasted resources and lost energy, of environmental pollution and ultimately contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. The accumulation of knowledge through participatory research has stimulated the need for wider dissemination. Such a need has outpaced the ability of the CBRL to communicate knowledge to diverse audiences, including policy-makers, practitioners, and the general public. For changes in waste management to take place, we must move beyond academic forms of knowledge diffusion (such as academic peer reviewed articles) to mobilize useful knowledge that can change practices and behaviours, resulting in economic and environmental gains. There is an urgent need to widely promote the responsible consumption of goods and resources, to reduce the transportation of solid wastes, and to generate less waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. This research engages with the mobilization of knowledge collectively generated, particularly under the PSWM project and other previous solid waste related projects to achieve wider and multi-scalar dissemination of crucial socio-environmental information. The forms of dissemination privileged in this project are video, photography, flyers, posters, booklets and seminar, conference and workshop presentations. 

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