A system for the inclusion of the informal recycling sector (IRS) in Mexico city’s solid waste management

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With 19 million inhabitants, Mexico City is the most populated agglomeration in Latin America, concentrating 30% of the national population. More than 61% of municipal solid waste (MSW) is sent to landfills, and 13% of MSW is recovered by Informal Sector Recyclers (ISRs) for recycling, which is the most crucial treatment option in the city. This article adopts a systemic approach to addressing the problem of the operationalization of relationships between ISRs and public services in Mexico City to design a recursive organizational structure with the identification of the critical roles and functions of management and governance in multi-level and multi-stakeholder relationships to integrate ISRs into MSW management. Using the Viable System Model (VSM) recursive structure to propose functional organizational structures in Mexico City is a new route for the study and application of systemic thinking in ISR integration. The VSM of the recycling system in Mexico City considers the recycling activities and characteristics of the territory at each recursion level. The authorities of the corresponding hierarchical level, who have sufficient knowledge of the physical and socioeconomic characteristics of the territory, are responsible for the design and operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12490
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Informal recycling sector
  • Mexico City
  • Soft system methodology
  • Viable system model (VSM)


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