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Grassroots movements shift approach to recycling

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin

Photovoice training with binners. Credit: Gabby Korcheva

According to new research grassroots movements can help shift how we think about recycling and the growing issue of garbage. Dare Sholanke, a recent geography master’s grad, studied Vancouver’s waste governance system, examining binners' (informal recyclers) and the role of grassroots organizations in municipal waste management.

Sholanke came to UVic after discovering geography professor Jutta Gutberlet, an expert in participatory waste governance.

“Dr. Gutberlet’s research in waste governance is very inspiring,” says Sholanke. “Her work in the Global South, especially in Sau Paulo, Brazil with recyclers (binners) shows that recycling can be turned into a livelihood and a way for people to provide for their families.”

Informal recycling

Gutberlet has been working for 20 years on waste diversion and recycling projects in Brazil and other parts of the world, and many recyclers have organized into cooperatives and networks that engage with municipal programs.

Sholanke’s master’s thesis was a call for participatory governance with binners in Vancouver around waste management. He conducted in depth interviews with waste management stakeholders, such as government official and bottle depot managers to assess the challenges faced by the informal recycling sector. In his thesis, Sholanke, uses Vancouver as a case study to examine the role the informal recycling sector plays in municipal waste recycling and the influence of the Binners’ Project.

He says his research, “addressed some of the political, social, economic and administrative aspects of waste governance in Vancouver, including the key roles the binners play in waste management.”

The Diverters

In February 2019, he was hired by the Vancouver Binners’ Project to conduct a four-month need assessment into the feasibility of establishing a similar program in Victoria.

The need assessment was a success, so now we have a new group in Victoria called “The Diverters.”
—recent geography master's grad, Dare Sholanke

The Diverters are an informal recycling group (binners) who collect materials at designated sites across Victoria. Their goals include creating economic opportunities, destigmatize binning, and promoting social cohesion among binners.

Sholanke is currently working as a volunteer with The Diverters after successfully defending his master’s thesis on August 2, 2019. He also works full-time for the British Columbia Provincial Government.

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Keywords: convocation, geography, sustainability, graduate research, recycling, research

People: Dare Sholanke, Jutta Gutberlet


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