New Book- Economies of Recycling

From the book release: “For some, recycling is a big business; for others a moralised way of engaging with the world. But, for many, this is a dangerous way of earning a living. With scrap now being the largest export category from the US to China, the sheer scale of this global trade has not yet been clearly identified or analysed. Combining fine-grained ethnographic analysis with overviews of international material flows, Economies of Recycling radically changes the way we understand global and local economies as well as the new social relations and identities created by recycling processes.

Following global material chains, this groundbreaking book reveals astonishing connections between persons, households, cities and global regions as objects are reworked, taken to pieces and traded. With case studies from Africa, Latin America, South Asia, China, the former Soviet Union, North America and Europe, Economies of Recycling shows how marginal economies are producing new social collectives and projects around local and global decay, often with waste labour bringing high monetary reward as well as danger.

Replacing the persistent notion of globally peripheral countries being ransacked for raw materials, which are then transformed into valuable commodities in the North, this timely collection debunks common linear understandings of production, exchange and consumption and argues for a complete re-evaluation of North-South economic relationships.”

‘In this superb collection, what had been dismissed as mere waste or simple recycling is found to be immensely productive in the creation of a second tranche of commodities, complex labour relations, new global linkages, the creation of value and highly sophisticated analysis and theory. Only from this point can debate on these topics be genuinely called informed.’
– Daniel Miller, Professor of Material Culture, University College London

‘Garbage dumps in Rio, textile recycling in northern India, mountains of discarded IT equipment in China, global circulations of uranium: this remarkable collection really lifts the lid on the global sociologies, politics and geographies of waste and recycling – in their widest possible sense. The result is an unprecedented richness in understanding how the recycled use of all manner of materials works to sustain large swathes of our world and why this matters fundamentally for our planet’s future. Economies of Recycling is a genuine Tour de Force!’
– Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University

Economies of Recycling: The Global Transformation of Materials, Values and Social Relations edited by Catherine Alexander and Joshua Reno is published by Zed Books, priced £19.99/$35.95, ISBN 9781780321943.

For more information or to request a review copy please contact Ruvani de Silva on 020 7837 8466 or ruvani.de_silva [at]

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