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Pollution Control in the Informal Sector: The Ciudad Juárez Brickmakers' Project


  • Blackman, Allen

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Bannister, Geoffrey


Low-technology unlicensed micro-enterprises known as "informal" firms are a significant source of pollution in developing countries that are virtually impossible to regulate in the conventional manner. This paper describes an example of an innovative and promising approach to the problem: the Ciudad Juárez Brickmakers' Project, a private-sector-led initiative aimed at abating highly polluting emissions from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico's approximately 300 informal brick kilns. We draw four lessons from the Project's history. First, private-sector-led initiatives can work -- indeed they may be more effective than public sector initiatives -- but they require strong public sector support. Second, necessary conditions for effective environmental management in the informal sector include enlisting the cooperation of local organizations, relying upon peer monitoring, and offsetting compliance costs. Ineffective strategies include promoting too-advanced technologies and intervening in informal markets. Third, pollution control strategies that provide the greatest environmental benefits may be less appropriate than low-cost intermediate strategies. Finally, in volatile developing economies, market-based environmental initiatives in the informal sector are bound to be fragile.

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  • Blackman, Allen & Bannister, Geoffrey, 1998. "Pollution Control in the Informal Sector: The Ciudad Juárez Brickmakers' Project," Discussion Papers dp-98-15, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-15

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    Cited by:

    1. Blackman, Allen & Bannister, Geoffrey, 1997. "Community Pressure and Clean Technologies in the Informal Sector: An Econometric Analysis of the Adoption of Propane by Traditional Brickmakers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico," Discussion Papers dp-97-16-rev, Resources For the Future.
    2. Sabel, Charles & O'Rourke, Dara & Fung, Archon, 2000. "Ratcheting labor standards : regulation for continuous improvement in the global workplace," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 23071, The World Bank.
    3. Ummad Mazhar & Ceyhun Elgin, 2013. "Environmental Regulation, Pollution and the Informal Economy," SBP Research Bulletin, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department, vol. 9, pages 62-81.
    4. Elgin, Ceyhun & Oztunali, Oguz, 2014. "Pollution and informal economy," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 333-349.
    5. Blackman, Allen, 2000. "Informal Sector Pollution Control: What Policy Options Do We Have?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2067-2082, December.
    6. Blackman, Allen & Palma, Alejandra, 2002. "Scrap Tires in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso: Ranking the Risks," Discussion Papers dp-02-46, Resources For the Future.
    7. Blackman, Allen & Harrington, Winston, 1998. "Using Alternative Regulatory Instruments to Control Fixed Point Air Pollution in Developing Countries: Lessons from International Experience," Discussion Papers dp-98-21, Resources For the Future.
    8. Blackman, Allen & Shih, Jhih-Shyang & Evans, David & Batz, Michael & Newbold, Stephen & Cook, Joseph, 2006. "The benefits and costs of informal sector pollution control: Mexican brick kilns," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(05), pages 603-627, October.
    9. Ceyhun Elgin & Oğuz Öztunalı, 2014. "Environmental Kuznets Curve for the Informal Sector of Turkey (1950-2009)," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(4), pages 471-485, September.
    10. Blackman, Allen & Batz, Michael & Evans, David, 2003. "Maquiladoras, Air Pollution, and Human Health in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso," Discussion Papers dp-03-18, Resources For the Future.

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