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The Cycle of Solid Waste:A Case Study on the Informal Plastic and Metal Recovery System in Accra
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


The thesis mainly deals with the analysis of the structure and organization of the informal plastic andmetal recovery system in Accra. To give a clear picture of the context within which the informal wasterecovery system exists, the study has examined the existing formal solid waste management system inAccra. To this end, the study employed a case study method using both qualitative and quantitativeapproaches to solicit the necessary data during the two months of field work in Accra. Furthermore, thethesis employs concepts and theories such as network theory, actors-oriented approach and wastemanagement theories to look in to the structure and organization of the informal plastic and metalrecovery system from a new perspective.As a result, this thesis has revealed that the informal recovery system is built out of social ties and a widerange of reciprocity networks. These networks are of small in size with small number of membership;however, interconnected to one another. In most cases, the network members have common features suchas gender, religious affiliation, place of origin and reasons to join the informal plastic and metal recoverysystem. These networks also have an organizational structure that shows the institutionalization of rolesand responsibilities. This has further provided the structure and condition for the development andstrengthening of common values and norms. These norms and values are more or less providing a senseof control and governance for the networks and their activities. In addition, these networks also provide asocial security system for its members in case of emergencies.The study has also revealed that the identified actors within the recovery system are organized in the formof trade hierarchy where the income and profit of the actors depends on their position within the tradehierarchy. In addition, the ability to add value and also being at the end of the trade chain has a positiveimpact on the amount of income or the profit margins of the actors. In addition, actors placed at theupper- most end are sources capital and finance to the recovery system.Despite the fact that the informal plastic and metal recovery system functions in parallel and interactswith members of the formal waste management sector, the system is ignored by the government. Theinformal recovery system is not considered as a major stakeholder for solid waste management sector.Moreover, the formal sector is also creating a challenge for the existence of the informal sector. There is aneed to integrate the informal recovery system in to the formal system as the activities of recoveringplastics and metals are significant for the environment in particular and for sustainable development ingeneral.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 84 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 97
Keyword [en]
Accra, Informal sector, Sustainable Development, Resource Recovery, Solid Waste
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-191431OAI: diva2:585668
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Geocentrum, Geocentrum, Uppsala (English)
Life Earth Science
IWWA - Integrated Waste Management in West Africa
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2013-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Gugssa, Beamlak Tesfaye
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