Some Northern European countries have taken significant steps to introduce integrated or mixed approaches to waste management. Modernised waste management means working towards 100% coverage, combined with increasing recovery, decreased generation of waste, and, especially, a decreasing amount of materials ending up in dumpsites or in the environment, due to recovery of materials for recycling and of organic waste used for animal feeding or as soil conditioner in agriculture or horticulture.
In many countries in the South, a high rate of recycling is a fully private sector-led activity. Tiny family-based enterprises in the solid waste informal sector, sometimes referred to as 'scavengers' or 'waste pickers', account for most recycling of metal, paper, plastic, glass, and kitchen and garden waste. Without the activity of these micro-entrepreneurs, much more waste would end up in dumps or in the environment, but at the same time their conditions of work are difficult and unhealthy, and they are widely reviled and harassed.
Waste management can be a trigger of change, to help citizens to participate, and to stimulate local governments into action to improve the business climate or attract tourism. The resulting changes can set in motion a cycle of citizen engagement, better governance, and improved nutrient cycling. WASTE facilitates different forms of decentralised waste management.