CFP: special issue on Organizing and Managing Waste

Organizing and Managing Waste

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Waste is not only a global environmental issue. It is also an extended nexus of material, energy, and symbolic flows that characterize contemporary patterns of production, distribution, and consumption.

Beyond disposal and recycling, waste management includes prevention activities such as reuse, repair, and maintenance. It also includes lean and other strategies that aim at making industrial and commercial processes more efficient materially. So take-back systems, extended producers responsibility schemes, and the circular economy are just as much about the management of waste as recycling and landfill management.

Correspondingly, the management of waste is not limited to waste management companies. Households manage waste in their homes; companies manage waste at all stages of their activities; public authorities manage waste within their territories in accordance with their prerogatives and legal responsibilities; and social movements such as the Zero Waste movement try to modify the waste approach of all the above. The population of waste workers today is far larger than sanitation workers and rag pickers conventionally associated with the collection and processing of garbage. Waste has become a global industry that connects all consumers to all producers.

The production of waste is co-substantive to human activities, and all economic activities have a waste effect that requires some kind of management. Waste is connected to production and consumption patterns as well as valuation regimes and governance practices. The production and management of waste intertwine more than any other economic activities with the societal dimension of business and with the business dimension of social matters. The fact that South-American waste pickers happen to follow in real time the price of secondary materials on Asian markets is one indication among many of the global character of waste management.

This special issue aims to provide a state-of-the-art overview of business in society research on waste, from the micro-practices of individual waste producers or waste managers to the global activities of transnational corporations that deal with secondary materials. Contributions are welcome that depart from the human, material, symbolic, spatial, and political dimensions of waste, this list not being exhaustive. The issue’s purpose is to unfold how the management of waste is truly in society.

There are many ways to address waste in society. Some possible areas are:
•    How waste is a nexus of mater, energy, organizations, and symbols, but also narratives, legislation, and behaviors
•    How waste impacts producers, consumers, and waste-workers alike, in the Global North as well as the Global South
•    The claimed unsustainability of waste and the corresponding sustainability of waste management and waste prevention strategies and practices
•    Waste governance, from political initiatives such as the European Circular Economy package, to mundane governance tools such as households’ waste sorting devices under the sink
•    The social and symbolic dimensions of waste materiality, inclusive of the use of waste in the arts and in political activism
•    The reordering of consumption practices and material flows by the rebirth of repair and maintenance practices, from the professionalization of charity to the development of internet-based second-hand markets through the banalization of 3D printers and  makerspace communities
•    The fascination and repulsion for waste in the rubbish society
•    The travel of waste ideas and the parallel emergence of particularism and globalism in waste management
(This list is purely indicative, and in no way exhaustive.)

Deadline for full paper submission: December 1st, 2017. Papers will be reviewed according to the double blind review procedure of the Society and Business Review. Please use our ScholarOne submission portal to submit your paper:

Please contact Guest Editor: Hervé Corvellec, Lund University, Sweden ( with any questions or concerns.

Some references

·         Alexander, C. & Reno, J. 2012. Economies of recycling: The global transformations of materials, values and social relations. London: Zed.

·         Andrews-Speed, C. P. 2014. Want, waste or war?: The global resource nexus and the struggle for land, energy, food, water and minerals. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

·         Corvellec, H. 2016. “Sustainability objects as performative definitions of sustainability: The case of food waste-based biogas and biofertilizers.” Journal of Material Culture, 21:3, 383-401.

·         Graham, S. & Thrift, N. 2007. ‘Out of order: Understanding repair and maintenance.’ Theory, Culture & Society, 24:3, 1-25.

·         Gregson, N., Crang, M., Botticello, J., Calestani, M. & Krzywoszynska, A. 2014. ‘Doing the ‘dirty work’ of the green economy: Resource recovery and migrant labour in the EU.’ European Urban and Regional Studies.

·         Gregson, N., Crang, M., Fuller, S. & Holmes, H. 2015. ‘Interrogating the circular economy: the moral economy of resource recovery in the EU.’ Economy and Society, 44:2, 218-43.

·         Gregson, N., Watkins, H. & Calestani, M. 2013. ‘Political markets: recycling, economization and marketization.’ Economy and Society, 42:1, 1-25.

·         Hird, M. J. 2013. ‘Waste, Landfills, and an Environmental Ethic of Vulnerability.’ Ethics & the Environment, 18:1, 105-24.

·         O’Brien, M. 2008. A crisis of waste?: Understanding the rubbish society. New York: Routledge.

·         Singh, J. & Ordoñez, I. 2015. ‘Resource recovery from post-consumer waste: important lessons for the upcoming circular economy.’ Journal of Cleaner Production, 134:Part A, 342–53.

·         Woolgar, S. & Neyland, D. 2013. Mundane governance: Ontology and accountability. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

·         Zapata Campos, M. J. & Zapata, P. 2014. ‘The travel of global ideas of waste management. The case of Managua and its informal settlements.’ Habitat International, 41:January, 41-49.