People who live off materials recovered from the waste stream exist in every corner of the world. However, these recyclers are among the most exploited and socially and economically excluded people. Recyclers face enormous stigmatization, discrimination and marginalization. This project focused on participatory waste management as an opportunity to generate income and improve the quality of life of informal recyclers (called catadores in Brazil), while promoting environmental sustainability and inclusive public policies on integrated waste management. The project has also made a number of contributions to theorizing the social and solidarity economies, areas of research that remain relatively undertheorized, while also contributing to the critical discourse on collective commercialization and microcredit. Further, the research has helped to expand the body of theory about community-based research and empowerment concepts.