Drawing on a participatory study of integrated organic waste management, this article explores the local political barriers and preconditions for its implementation in Diadema, Brazil. Solid waste management in Brazil is embedded in and mediated by a political framework that is characterised by uneven power geometries. This article explores how the local political context affects the potential for integrated organic waste management in Diadema, paying particular attention to relations between stakeholders. The discussion addresses the contested nature of deliberative decision-making spaces and the need for pro-active socio-environmental policies. The findings underline the importance of a praxis of everyday public participation that goes beyond rhetoric.