The series of events planned around “The City of Waste” exhibition is an invitation to reflect upon the relationship societies have with their waste. The travelling exhibition designed by researchers belonging to the Sociétés Urbaines et Déchets (SUD) (Urban Societies and Waste) Network (, is accompanied by the screening of a documentary film, public debates and the participation of specialists of the subject.


Images of waste collectors in the streets or at landfills often show people working in degrading conditions, inhabiting Dantean landscapes, and they mainly evoke the idea of human misery.
This photography exhibition and the events associated with it seek, on the contrary, to give pride of place to portraits of women and men that can suggest other stories for the viewers. What we are doing here is highlighting these people, without the stigma of misery and marginality that usually accompany contact with waste. The numerous interviews conducted with them, the poses they strike for the researcher-photographer, but above all their work of transforming garbage into materials that can be valorised, is proof of their contribution. Across the world, these “waste-workers” are increasingly demanding social rights, as well as recognition for their contribution to recycling, waste management and at a wider level, to the environment. These portraits depict ordinary people, involved in their work: workers who want to be considered equal to others, recognized for their work and by society.


Created in 2009 by Claudia Cirelli and Bénédicte Florin (UMR CITERES, CNRS/University of Tours), the Sociétés Urbaines et Déchets (SUD – Urban Societies and Waste) research Network is part of the field of the social sciences, and it approaches waste as indicative of wider dynamics that affect urban societies.

The SUD network brings together researchers of various nationalities, from a range of institutions and disciplines, working in the field across the world. Some of its members have contributed to the book: Sociétés Urbaines et Déchets. Éclairages internationaux (Eds. C. Cirelli and B. Florin, PUFR, Tours, 2015) and were involved in developing the Waste in Images exhibition. Since 2015, this exhibition has grown to include new researchers and areas of study, and it has been presented at numerous sites, in France and abroad.