Dealing with the waste we all generate is a growing global challenge. Waste management problems are conventionally described and measured in terms of material flows and environmental impacts, yet this is a human problem with major social, health, and economic impacts, felt most acutely by some of the world’s poorest people. Informal workers make a major contribution to citywide recovery and recycling, but remain unrecognized and undervalued. We urgently need to put people back at the centre of our narrative and actions. In Managing Our Waste 2021 we do just that. Through people-centred analysis we reveal huge inequalities in access to services across four case study cities, and shine a spotlight on the wide range of stakeholders already making efforts to clean up their city and to earn a living from waste. Our recommendations focus on four people-centred solutions.