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Waste not, want not: Externalising environmental costs and harms.

White, Rob
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Australia and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2009: Conference Proceedings. Pg. 294-304.

This paper provides a theoretical exploration of how waste is linked to both processes of commodification and to
environmental harm. One recurring question is why and how waste is socially constructed as a problem. For instance, is the
issue one of legality (e.g., unscrupulous businesses engaging in illegal dumping), or does it pertain to sustainability and the
basic means of production that generate the problem to begin with (e.g., consumption patterns in one country that depend
upon production of high levels of carbon dioxide emissions in exporting countries)? From a criminological perspective, the
concept of harm can be mobilised to illuminate these and other issues. The paper examines the implications of
commodification for waste production and removal, and the interface between the legal and illegal which contributes to
the transference of harm worldwide. Among topics to be discussed are the status of waste as a commodity, the waste crisis
and public accountability, the class dynamics that shape the practical mechanics of waste disposal, and the paradoxes and
contradictions arising from efforts to deal with waste – as a commodity – in the context of climate change. The paper
attempts to frame the problem of waste through the analytical lens of green criminology. In so doing, it broaches matters
pertaining to harms stemming from the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of waste at the local through
to the global level. (Authors abstract)


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