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Special Issue "Waste, Garbage and Filth: Social and Cultural Perspectives on Recycling"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2010)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This issue is expressly devoted to social and cultural issues on recycling. Since the early 1960s, “Sustainable development” emerged as a critical issue in most contemporary societies and in the 1990s, global warming turned into global warning when the “greenhouse effect” turned out to be the cause of the rapid and worldwide ecological changes. In the 19th century, industrial societies were confident in the idea of Progress and the correlated massive productivity. One century later, waste management has become one of the major economic, social and scientific issues worldwide. Social sciences have nevertheless only recently embarked on the wagon of “recycling” studies. But they can unearth highly relevant information regarding the nature (properties) of “Waste”, the culturally-embedded meanings associated to it (such as Mary Douglas’ “pure”-“impure” dichotomy), and the observable social uses surrounding “Garbage”. An anthropological focus on such issues might either concern qualitative and ethnographic localized perspectives (on the individuals’ level), or a more quantitative, comparative and transcultural standpoint. In any case, as Mikael Drackner has cleverly maintained, emphasis is put on a twofold question “What is waste? To whom?” (Drackner, 2005), to which one can add three others “Where? When? And Why?”. And further, how do societies cope with what they call “rubbish”.

Prof. Dr. Lionel Obadia
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • waste
  • recycling
  • cultural meanings
  • collective representations
  • social behaviors

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Uncertainty Regarding Waste Handling in Everyday Life
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2799-2813; doi:10.3390/su2092799
Received: 15 July 2010 / Revised: 15 August 2010 / Accepted: 25 August 2010 / Published: 3 September 2010
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (201 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
According to our study, based on interviews with households in a residential area in Sweden, uncertainty is a cultural barrier to improved recycling. Four causes of uncertainty are identified. Firstly, professional categories not matching cultural categories—people easily discriminate between certain categories (e.g., materials
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According to our study, based on interviews with households in a residential area in Sweden, uncertainty is a cultural barrier to improved recycling. Four causes of uncertainty are identified. Firstly, professional categories not matching cultural categories—people easily discriminate between certain categories (e.g., materials such as plastic and paper) but not between others (e.g., packaging and “non-packaging”). Thus a frequent cause of uncertainty is that the basic categories of the waste recycling system do not coincide with the basic categories used in everyday life. Challenged habits—source separation in everyday life is habitual, but when a habit is challenged, by a particular element or feature of the waste system, uncertainty can arise. Lacking fractions—some kinds of items cannot be left for recycling and this makes waste collection incomplete from the user’s point of view and in turn lowers the credibility of the system. Missing or contradictory rules of thumb—the above causes seem to be particularly relevant if no motivating principle or rule of thumb (within the context of use) is successfully conveyed to the user. This paper discusses how reducing uncertainty can improve recycling. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Environmental Information—Explanatory Factors for Information Behavior
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2785-2798; doi:10.3390/su2092785
Received: 15 July 2010 / Revised: 15 August 2010 / Accepted: 25 August 2010 / Published: 2 September 2010
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (159 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As sustainable waste management has become an important environmental concern, growing emphasis is being given to policy tools aimed at increasing recycling behavior by households. Information is a common policy tool, but may not always reach the individuals whose behavior is being targeted,
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As sustainable waste management has become an important environmental concern, growing emphasis is being given to policy tools aimed at increasing recycling behavior by households. Information is a common policy tool, but may not always reach the individuals whose behavior is being targeted, i.e., those reluctant to recycle. This study examined individual differences in attention to recycling information and demand for such information. A nationwide survey in Sweden showed that having personal norms for recycling is important when it comes to obeying and seeking environmentally relevant information. In contrast to earlier research, this study found that lack of information alone is not a significant antecedent to the intention to seek information. Personal norms were found to moderate the effect of perceived lack of information on the intention to seek information. Full article
Open AccessArticle Influence of Handling Practices on Material Recovery from Residential Solid Waste
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2070-2083; doi:10.3390/su2072070
Received: 17 June 2010 / Accepted: 29 June 2010 / Published: 9 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (221 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Material recovery from municipal solid waste (MSW) is becoming widely adopted in several developing countries. Residential solid waste is one of the most important components of MSW and the handling practices of the MSW by the generators have a major impact on the
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Material recovery from municipal solid waste (MSW) is becoming widely adopted in several developing countries. Residential solid waste is one of the most important components of MSW and the handling practices of the MSW by the generators have a major impact on the quality and quantity of the materials for recovery. This article analyzes the generation and composition of residential solid waste and the handling practices by users in three municipalities in Colombia that have a solid waste management plant (SWMP). The findings show that, although there are significant amounts of useful materials, their handling of the materials as “garbage”, the low recognition of recovery work, and the inadequate storage and source management practices, affect material recovery and the operation of SWMPs. These results may be taken as a reference for this type of municipality, because the solid waste management system and the type of operation of the SWMPs analyzed is similar to all of the SWMPs in the country as well as in other countries in the region. Full article
Open AccessArticle Cairo’s Contested Garbage: Sustainable Solid Waste Management and the Zabaleen’s Right to the City
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1765-1783; doi:10.3390/su2061765
Received: 30 April 2010 / Revised: 31 May 2010 / Accepted: 4 June 2010 / Published: 18 June 2010
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (987 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the decades, the Zabaleen, the traditional waste (garbage) collectors of Cairo, have created what is arguably one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable resource-recovery and waste-recycling systems. Yet the continuation of this intricate relationship between community, environment and livelihood is
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Over the decades, the Zabaleen, the traditional waste (garbage) collectors of Cairo, have created what is arguably one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable resource-recovery and waste-recycling systems. Yet the continuation of this intricate relationship between community, environment and livelihood is jeopardized by the official privatization of municipal solid waste (MSW) services through contracts with technology-intensive multinational corporations which threatens the sustainability of the garbage collectors’ communities by removing access to their chief economic asset, waste or garbage. The situation is exacerbated by an official policy of moving the Zabaleen and their MSW sorting, recovery, trading and recycling activities further out of the city, on the grounds that this will turn their neighbourhoods into cleaner and healthier living environments. The consumption of Cairo’s sites of MSW collection and sorting open new socio-political spaces for conflict between multi-national companies and the Zabaleen’s traditional system. This is further indicated in the way Cairo’s waste materials have been subjected to new claims and conflict, as they are seen as a ‘commodity’ by global capital entrepreneurs and multi-national corporations, and as a source of ‘livelihood’ by the disadvantaged and marginalised Zabaleen population. Full article
Open AccessArticle E-Waste Recycling Systems and Sound Circulative Economies in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis of Systems in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1632-1644; doi:10.3390/su2061632
Received: 20 April 2010 / Revised: 6 May 2010 / Accepted: 26 May 2010 / Published: 4 June 2010
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The main purpose of this paper is to review and compare E-waste management systems operating in East Asian countries in efforts to identify future challenges facing the circulative economies in the region. The first topic of this paper is cost sharing (physical and
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The main purpose of this paper is to review and compare E-waste management systems operating in East Asian countries in efforts to identify future challenges facing the circulative economies in the region. The first topic of this paper is cost sharing (physical and financial) as applied to the various stakeholders, including producers, consumers, local governments and recyclers, in the E-waste management systems. The second topic is the environmental and economical impacts of these E-waste management systems on recycling technology, trans-boundary movement of E-wastes and Design for Environment (DfE). The final topic is the possibility for international cooperation in the region in terms of E-waste management systems. The authors’ preliminary result is that the E-waste management systems operating in these East Asian countries have contributed to extended producer responsibility and DfE to some extent, but many challenges remain in their improvement through proper cost sharing among the stakeholders. It is also clear that the cross-border transfer of E-wastes cannot be resolved by one nation alone, and thus international cooperation will be indispensable in finding a suitable solution. Full article
Open AccessArticle Domestic Separation and Collection of Municipal Solid Waste: Opinion and Awareness of Citizens and Workers
Sustainability 2010, 2(5), 1297-1326; doi:10.3390/su2051297
Received: 24 March 2010 / Revised: 13 April 2010 / Accepted: 4 May 2010 / Published: 11 May 2010
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (567 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The state of the art on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management is based on the domestic separation of materials produced. After domestic separation, the resident has to transfer the separated materials to the MSW manager through the hands of collection workers. It is
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The state of the art on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management is based on the domestic separation of materials produced. After domestic separation, the resident has to transfer the separated materials to the MSW manager through the hands of collection workers. It is exactly at this stage that an end-use product changes its status and property becomes waste. This paper analyzes and compares the opinions and awareness of citizens and kerbside collection workers on this subject by means of two structured questionnaires in the city of Mercato San Severino (about 22,000 people), in Southern Italy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Solar-Powered Compaction Garbage Bins in Public Areas: A Preliminary Economic and Environmental Evaluation
Sustainability 2010, 2(2), 524-532; doi:10.3390/su2020524
Received: 16 December 2009 / Accepted: 4 February 2010 / Published: 8 February 2010
PDF Full-text (42 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An excel-based model was developed to evaluate economic and environmental benefits of the solar-powered compaction garbage bins in public areas in Australia. Input data were collected from Brisbane and Wollongong City councils, and Sydney Olympic Park. The results demonstrate that solar-powered compaction garbage
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An excel-based model was developed to evaluate economic and environmental benefits of the solar-powered compaction garbage bins in public areas in Australia. Input data were collected from Brisbane and Wollongong City councils, and Sydney Olympic Park. The results demonstrate that solar-powered compaction garbage bins would provide environmental benefits in all scenarios. However, results of the economic analysis of the three studied areas varied significantly. The unique situation of Sydney Olympic Park made implementation in that facility particularly appealing. A lower monthly rental cost is needed for the implementation of this novel waste management practice. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Use of Incineration MSW Ash: A Review
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 1943-1968; doi:10.3390/su2071943
Received: 15 May 2010 / Revised: 1 June 2010 / Accepted: 28 June 2010 / Published: 2 July 2010
Cited by 90 | PDF Full-text (372 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study reviews the characteristics of municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) ashes, with a main focus on the chemical properties of the ashes. Furthermore, the possible treatment methods for the utilization of ash, namely, separation processes, solidification/stabilization and thermal processes, are also discussed.
[...] Read more.
This study reviews the characteristics of municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) ashes, with a main focus on the chemical properties of the ashes. Furthermore, the possible treatment methods for the utilization of ash, namely, separation processes, solidification/stabilization and thermal processes, are also discussed. Seven types of MSWI ash utilization are reviewed, namely, cement and concrete production, road pavement, glasses and ceramics, agriculture, stabilizing agent, adsorbents and zeolite production. The practical use of MSWI ash shows a great contribution to waste minimization as well as resources conservation. Full article

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