Waste interfaces: biodegradable waste, municipal policy and everyday practice

Harriet Bulkeley, Kye Askins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Recent years have seen a rapid rise in the political saliency of the ever growing volumes of municipal waste produced in the UK. In this paper, we examine how one particular part of the municipal waste stream – biodegradable waste – has come under the policy spotlight. As targets to divert biodegradable waste from landfill under the Landfill Directive come into force, the need to focus explicitly on recovering value from biodegradable materials has risen up national and local policy agendas, not least with the introduction of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme. Accompanying this new rationality for managing waste has been a suite of different policy interventions. In this paper we examine the impact of the changing nature of municipal waste policy and the ways in which it has sought to rework the disposal and collection of biodegradable waste. We argue that the predominantly technical framing and instrumental rationality of these interventions does not sufficiently challenge entrenched understandings regarding the boundaries between public and private responsibility for waste, and thus short-circuits their capacity to engage with everyday community/individual waste practices. In conclusion, we suggest that, in order to move waste management towards sustainability, there is a need both to engage with the institutional and infrastructural dimensions of the systems of provision within which waste management occurs, and to take seriously the everyday contexts within which making waste is practiced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-260
JournalGeographical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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