Opportunities for green jobs in the waste sector

The prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery of waste can create considerable social, economic and environmental opportunities for many countries. This course focuses on the potential for decent work promotion and green business development across the waste hierarchy, with a focus on waste collection, sorting and recycling. Lessons will be learned from a review of the international literature, analysis of case studies and interviews with those involved. There will be special emphasis on identifying and developing solutions to bridge gaps in the recognition and integration of the contributions made by workers in the informal economy.

The transition to greener economies includes managing the ever-increasing waste streams in ways that are contributing to a cleaner and healthier living environment as well as to the recuperation and recycling of useful resources.

Aside from providing an important contribution to reducing global GHG emissions, sustainable waste management is increasingly regarded as an opportunity to promote social inclusion and upgrade the quality of existing jobs of both women and men. However, this can only lead to sustainable development if the jobs that depend on waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery are decent jobs. In many countries, this requires the full recognition and integration of the contributions by workers and enterprises in the informal economy.

Social and environmentally sound waste management will require that workers, operators and businesses follow safety, health and environmental guidelines, and be part and parcel of a recognized waste management economic system. Local and national governments will need to set up solid waste management systems with clear regulations and incentives to support responsible waste management and recycling businesses in the different waste streams. At the same time, there is a growing need to support small enterprises in sound waste management and business development.