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Assemblages of private waste management and recycling: The case of the Anderlecht marketplace in Brussels

Andrea Bortolotti (Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre Horta, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 16 October 2018

Issue publication date: 10 June 2019




The paper aims to build a political understanding of private waste management. Although the politics of waste is a matter of increasing interest across the social sciences, private sector choices about waste prevention and recycling – and their impacts on society – receive little attention in waste scholarship.


Leveraging assemblage thinking and the actor-network theory, this paper provides an empirical analysis of waste prevention and recycling practices in the marketplace of Anderlecht, in Brussels. This particular case is of interest because it concerns the largest and most popular city marketplace and a resource for the most socioeconomically precarious among Brussels’ population.


Over the past decade, under the banner of sustainability, the private company that managed the site developed multiple initiatives to prevent litter and control the costs of waste management by introducing new regulations and engaging with both the private and non-profit sectors.


Yet, the impact of these initiatives remains unknown with regard to the community served by the market and its vendors in particular. This paper presents the results of a series of fieldwork activities and interviews with key informants and actors in waste management conducted over more than a year since November 2016.



The author is thankful to all the people who have generously shared their time and knowledge, and in particular the marketplace managers, the volunteers and the eight market vendors interviewed during the fieldworks. The author is thankful also to the two anonymous reviewers for their very constructive and helpful suggestions.

This work was supported by METROLAB – Brussels Metropolitan Laboratory – a project financed by the Programme Opérationnel FEDER 2014-2020 de la Région de Bruxelles Capitale.


Bortolotti, A. (2019), "Assemblages of private waste management and recycling: The case of the Anderlecht marketplace in Brussels", Society and Business Review, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 174-185.



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