Category Archives: Economics/Economies

Myths of the Circular Economy

Discard studies spoke with three leading waste researchers about the biggest myths of the circular economy.

Adam Minter: In the flow of things

Discard Studies interviews writer Adam Minter, author of ‘Junkyard Planet’ and journalist for Bloomberg about his next book, ‘Secondhand’

Mapping USA electronics manufacturing pollution

The US ‘tech sector’ has been a major source of toxicant releases. These interactive maps show the chemical legacy of electronic manufacturing in the US.

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.