an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Benjamin Steuer - Institute of Sinology, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Roland Ramusch - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development | EBRD, United Kingdom
  • Stefan Salhofer - Institute of Waste Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

DOI 10.31025/2611-4135/2018.13725

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2018 CISA Publisher

Editorial History

  • Received: 20 Feb 2018
  • Revised: 13 Aug 2018
  • Accepted: 17 Nov 2018
  • Available online: 09 Nov 2018


This article constitutes a comprehensive overview that summarises first-hand research findings obtained by the authors through scientific engagement with the informal recycling sector (IRS) in mainland China over the past six years. During this research period, especially between 2013 and 2016, we found several indications that the working environment of informal stakeholders in urban China was worsening. Among these challenges the IRS faces, two are especially noteworthy – a decline in profits and increasing regulatory pressure from the government. In our analysis we primarily focus on the segment of the IRS that deals with collection and pre-processing (sorting, separating, cleaning, bulking, refurbishment, material extraction) of recyclables and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in urban China. Our results indicate that despite their strong prevalence in this domain, informal actors are increasingly subjected to falling profit margins and regulatory pressure. However our results also shows that the IRS has in the past responded to both challenges rather effectively and thus may be able to maintain its presence in urban Chinese Waste Management (WM).



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