Category Archives: Economics/Economies

Moving the Circular Economy Beyond Alchemy

This review of a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology titled, “Exploring the Circular Economy” is a virtual tour of circular economy definitions and current directions. The authors discuss and derive new definitions of “circularity.” They cover fundamental determinants of material lifespan, such as economic demand, thermodynamics, product design, and durability.

Examining Waste as an Economic Externality

In an economic sense, it is usually municipal and state governments that account for the cost of damage waste causes to local environments when deciding how to deal with waste, but this cost is not already part of the price of goods or services that produce waste. Economists define this problem as a negative externality.

We can’t recycle our way to ‘zero waste’

Why is recycling low on the waste hierarchy?

Pristine paradise to rubbish dump: the same Pacific island, 23 years apart

Remember, this is not waste that was dumped directly by human hands. It was washed here on ocean currents, meaning that this is not just about one beach – it shows how much the pollution problem has grown in the entire ocean system in little more than two decades.

Recycling Reconsidered: A must-read text for discard studies

If I could only recommend one text in discard studies, it would be Recycling Reconsidered by Samantha MacBride (2011, MIT Press).

“Viewed as a concept by some, a framework by others, the CE is an alternative to a traditional take-make-dispose linear economy. A CE aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. The value is maintained or extracted though extension of product lifetimes by reuse, refurbishment, and remanufacturing as well as closing of resource cycles—through recycling and related strategies.”

Powerful supermarkets push the cost of food waste onto suppliers, charities

Our research into the issue of corporate social responsibility and wastage of fresh fruit and vegetables has identified a number of tensions and contradictions, despite leading Australian supermarkets’ zero food waste targets.

Electronics Reuse and Recycling in Peru: A Photographic exploration

A walk down this little street in Peru’s capital provides a glimpse into an understated network that quietly plays a critical role in reducing the environmental impacts of our global production and consumption patterns of electronic devices.

Victory at Standing Rock reflects a failure of US energy and climate policy

Stopping the pipeline in one spot, after all, won’t stop oil altogether. Climate change, however, is a threat most of all to Indigenous peoples around the world.

Dumping Milk from the Treadmill of Production

Over 43 million gallons of milk has been dumped into manure pits and fields the first eight months of 2016. There is too much of it. Yet milk is only the most recent commodity to become waste in an economic system that depends on waste. The Treadmill of Production refers to the processes by which industrial systems achieve consistent growth, and waste plays a central role.