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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Gregson, N. & Crang, M. Waste, Resource Recovery and Labour: Recycling Economies in the EU. In: Michie, J. & Cooper, C. Why the Social Sciences Matter. Palgrave Macmillan; 2015:60-76.
  • Publication type: Chapter in book

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter shows that the social sciences are critical to the challenge of turning wastes to resources via materials recovery and recycling. For wastes to become resources they have to become products, bought and sold in markets. Economics and the economic geographies of manufacturing matter to what can be done and where with particular wastes. The chapter draws on original research in three sectors – dry recyclables, ship recycling and textiles recovery – to show the difficulties that confront the policy goal of turning the EU into a recycling economy. It shows that recycling in the EU is positioned in the secondary labour market; that these jobs are characterised by itinerant migrant labour, often from ECE; and that low- grade products require global recycling networks to realise value.

Department of Geography