Although a significant amount of research has been conducted on people who extract useful materials from the waste stream in Africa, this paper represents the first systematic effort to bring this literature together in order to distil key insights. This paper reviews literature on the reclamation of reusable and recyclable materials in Africa, identifying key themes and critically reflecting on the ways in which research has been conducted. It also identifies priorities for future research. Focal areas within the literature reviewed include: descriptive, empirical studies of reclaimer demographics and conditions; the uses of and markets for reclaimed materials; the relationship between the formal and informal economies; policies and legislation; and organizing.
“Reclaiming Reusable and Recyclable Materials in Africa – A Critical Review of English Language Literature” is a WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) working paper. It can be downloaded (full version) from WIEGO.