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Individual Paper: Commoning - a new approach to sustainable waste systems and practices

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In the current economic system based on the idea of eternal growth, one dimension that is often ignored is waste - the inevitable and unsustainable material by-products of ever-increasing production and consumption. Any attempt at reversing the tide, either from a degrowth or steady state perspective, has to include a reconceptualisation of waste, how to change our relation to it and how to reduce the production of it. Today, the majority of the waste stream is the responsibility of governments and Local Authorities, who increasingly manage their task through the private sector or corporate-like methods. The problem here is that while heavy state regulation is seen as politically unviable, the oft-favoured alternative - behaviour-change interventions - is proving inadequate for delivering sustainable waste systems and practices. Through this dualistic view - government/individual, where 'government' more and more have come to mean 'private' - other channels for change are often neglected, such as collective action. This paper puts collective action at the centre of attention and presents a new, commons-based conceptual framework for understanding, reorienting and changing domestic waste activities. Taking a commoning approach offers a fresh and critical perspective on the potential inter-relationships between sociotechnical domestic waste systems, everyday social practices and householders' ways of relating to, reducing and recycling their. We discuss preliminary findings from our work implementing this framework to investigate, design and evaluate local government-led and -facilitated waste-reduction activities and projects, that centre around cooperation and alternative ways of doing waste. We reflect on its utility as a potential tool to guide the development of new and people-sensitive (as opposed to technocentric and managerial) understandings of waste, as well as more sustainable waste systems, domestic practices and collective strategies, and outline our future research plans.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (206)
Track: Material Production (e.g. food, plastics, steel, paper)



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