Recycling from the Margins: Informal Recycling Networks in St. John’s as Social Interactions

Lay Summary 

This study identifies social interactions and multiple value attachments as key motivators in participation in informal recycling networks in St. John’s. Social interactions are defined as opportunities to engage in positive interactions within a network whose value outcomes and personal outcomes for participants are multiple, and which offer multiple value attachment motivations. In the future, formally linking professional recycling with social justice values as well as environmental is recommended.

For professional recyclers, identified value attachments are: Productivity, Community Interaction, Financial Incentive, Personal Freedom and Environmental Stewardship. For customers identified value attachments are: Environmental Stewardship, Hard Work and Inclusive Community.

The multiplicity of values and outcomes ensure the long-term stability of a network through time and through alteration of network conditions. Because the network does not rely upon one motivation and/or value system, its existence is not threatened when one of these motivations and/or values is weakened or absent.

It appears that the professional recyclers in St. John’s work within a different context than that of the British Columbian and American recyclers or binners studied in the research highlighted in this report. Because of this, waste management policy makers in St. John’s have an opportunity to create unique programs and responses which emerge from the particular everyday contexts within which the informal recycling networks exist in the city. Keeping in mind differences between St. John’s professional recycling networks and those studied previously, future policy initiatives can re-imagine the role of recycling in St. John’s.


The Leslie Harris Centre For Regional Policy And Development And The Multi-Materials Stewardship Board
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Environmental Justice
Social Justice
Industry Sectors 
Scientific Research and Development Services
Local, Municipal and Regional Public Administration
Start date 
1 Jan 2012