Category Archives: Recycling

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’

Does recycling actually conserve or preserve things?

By Samantha MacBride There are a series of assumptions behind the familiar assertion that recycling saves resources and energy, and in so doing, protects the environment. These assumptions are in the motto, “recycling saves trees.” With recycling  – one assumes – used materials stand in for raw materials. This way, recycled content cuts down on […]
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What the world misses about recycling

Recycling was never just a solution to a disposal crisis, and it did not uniformly reduce total waste management costs. Rather, it addresses a range of other concerns which are equally valid but nearly impossible to quantify.

Resources for Observing and Understanding America Recycles Day

Wednesday is America Recycles Day. It’s a day that reveals the complex history of industry, consumer, and social attitudes towards the environment.

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?

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.”