The present study draws from data collected with informal recyclers in the autonomous region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the relationship between the formal and informal recycling sectors in Catalonia and determine how each of their activities impacts the other. From the case study in the city of Granollers, it was determined that from the spring of 2018 to the fall of 2019, the informal recyclers had the potential to collect roughly 44% of the cardboard in their geographical area, helping to meet the environmental goals of the region, but receiving no recognition for their work nor acknowledgement regarding their role in the waste management system. This investigation also analyzed the economic relationship between the formal and informal systems, and the effects that international events, such as China’s National Sword policy, had on that relationship. It was determined that the embeddedness of waste systems and global waste markets affect not only the formal system, but their relationship with the informal system as well.