Category Archives: Recycling

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.”

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.

The Politics of Recycling vs. Reusing

Calling reuse “recycling” a common and seemingly simple mistake, yet it is extremely important to differentiate between the two for political and environmental reasons.

How to do a household waste audit–and why

A waste audit is an analysis of a localized waste stream from your building, household, classroom, town or business. It can identify what types of waste that local generates, and how much. How do you conduct an audit? What can you learn from one?

A Circular Economy? Disruptive Innovation Festival

What is the circular economy, exactly? Is it capitalism with better accounting? Is it about scaling up recycling and reuse? Is it about consuming less, and producing less, or consuming and producing fundamentally differently? Does it go so far as to advocate for a degrowth or steady state economy, where the loop on production and consumption is totally closed?

The Ocean Conservatory’s Call for Mass Incineration in Asia: Disposability for Profit, Fantasies of Containment, & Colonialism

The Ocean Conservatory would like to burn 80% of the waste in coastal Asia with US-made incinerators. According to a wide range of experts and grassroots organizations from around the world, that’s a problem.

The Power Behind Disposability: Why New York City’s ban on polystyrene was vilified, sued, and reversed

On July 1 New York City banned disposable Styrofoam containers. First they were sued over the decision, and last week the ban was overturned. What is the big deal? The answer, not surprisingly, is profit. Industry saves money through the creation of disposables. And disposables are only environmentally acceptable if they are recycled. Except they aren’t.