Marijk Huysman bases her lecture on the importance of accessible and effective urban waste collection services for public health, environmental conditions, productivity and aesthetics of cities. Yet evidence shows that waste services are often failing poor people. She argues that long before the concept of green growth was embraced as an urban development trend, informal waste workers have made a significant economic and environmental contribution to urban centers and also provides a source of income for millions of people worldwide.
The collection of municipal solid waste is a public service that has important impacts on public health and the appearance of towns and cities. Unfortunately many urban administrations seem to be losing the battle of coping with the ever-increasing quantities of waste. The challenge is made greater by the diversity of materials in the waste, which is no longer mainly food waste and ash, but includes more and more plastic packaging, paper and discarded electronic equipment.