Reclaiming and recirculating urban natures: Integrated organic waste management in Diadema, Brazil

Julian S. Yates, Jutta Gutberlet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Although developing world cities are increasingly the focus of urban political ecology perspectives, waste remains an underexplored aspect. This paper helps to fill this thematic gap by using urban political ecology as a lens for analyzing flows of food waste in the Brazilian city of Diadema. The marginal urban poor in Diadema, as in most other cities in Brazil, lack access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables yet must cope with a disproportionate accumulation of uncollected waste. Integrated organic waste management, consisting of decentralized household- waste collection by organized recycling groups, waste processing, and the utilization of food waste for composting and urban food production, is presented as way of reclaiming and recirculating urban natures for potentially positive socioecological change. However, it is a process characterized by conflict and potential exploitation, while broader structural conditions constrain the ability of the system to offer an alternative to existing waste-management models. The paper concludes with a call for further action-oriented research within urban political ecology to reveal opportunities for new socioecological futures which should occur at multiple scales and emerge from the lived realities of marginalized actors such as catadores (recyclers) and urban gardeners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2109-2124
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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