Material Recovery from Complex Systems: Understanding Zero Waste from a Governmentality Perspective

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Modern consumption practices have led to increasing levels of waste and resource scarcity in society. Zero waste is an idea that has developed in response to these problems. Academic understanding of zero waste is in its infancy and is largely limited to consideration of the application of the concept in government policy. Theories of governance would suggest that this offers a limited perspective of the multi-scalar complex systems of waste management, as it fails to consider that modern governance is a product of the reinforcement of societal norms on multiple levels, rather than the influence of one central power. This paper attempts to shed light on zero waste governance by adopting governmentality as critical theory to present a systemic picture of governmental rationality. Focusing on Scotland, the paper uses data from 30 expert interviews to investigate how zero waste is measured, monitored and promoted as a governance goal. It provides a framework for analysis which allows both a nuanced presentation of how zero waste is understood and insight into the development of this understanding within a Scottish context. It is found that in Scotland, zero waste is seen as a different way of thinking about waste management and that zero waste as policy goal necessitates new, more collaborative approaches for waste governance: encouraging multiple stakeholder interactions and broadening of expert knowledge across disciplines. It is also suggested that the framework for analysis offers a transferable tool to make sense of complex sustainable development governance issues.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2014
    EventIntegrating the Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability - LUCSUS, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
    Duration: 7 Oct 2014 → …


    ConferenceIntegrating the Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability
    Period7/10/14 → …


    Dive into the research topics of 'Material Recovery from Complex Systems: Understanding Zero Waste from a Governmentality Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this