At the Margins – Economic Geographies of Waste & Recycling

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Title: At the Margins – Economic Geographies of Waste & Recycling
Other Titles: Margen an den Rändern – Zur räumlichen Ökonomie des Abfalls & Recycling
Authors: Schlitz, Nicolas
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Martin Franz
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Kim Philip Schumacher
Abstract: This cumulative dissertation presents an environmental economic geography approach to the study of waste and recycling. Thereby, it introduces the notion of ‘waste economies’, which describes the conjunction of the production of waste with the societal handling as well as the valorisation of waste. Two distinct regional case studies serve to illustrate different aspects of waste economies. The first case investigates the valorisation of surplus manure from intensive livestock farming through biogas production in a highly industrialized rural region in north-western Germany – the example of manure and digestate in the Oldenburger Münsterland. The second case focuses on the recovery and revalorisation of wasted materials in the labour-intensive urban informal economy of a metropolitan area in eastern India – the example of informal plastic recycling networks in Kolkata. On a theoretical level, the conceptualization of waste economies is located at the intersection of environmental economic geography and the interdisciplinary field of waste studies. It draws on the global production networks approach, social metabolism and Marxist political economy to analyse waste as a form of ‘hybrid’ socio-nature. Following a qualitative research methodology, the analysis of the two cases depicts the close entanglement of economic and environmental processes in the production, societal handling and economic valorisation of waste, and reveals how this intersection is conducive for capital accumulation. Three different economic processes and dynamics serve as central analytical dimensions to delineate the characteristics of waste economies with regard to the expanded reproduction of capital accumulation, that is, the continued growth of capitalist economies: processes of externalisation as well as dynamics of expansion and intensification. Through the combined up-scaled analysis of two empirical cases on a higher level of theoretical abstraction, this dissertation offers a better understanding of the economic function of waste in growth-oriented capitalist economies. In this way, it contributes to the global recycling network and global destruction network approaches within economic geography and relates them to scholarly concerns about global environmental change.
Subject Keywords: environmental economic geography; waste studies; global production network; globalization; environmental change; informal economy; recycling; plastic; manure; India; Germany
Issue Date: 25-Sep-2020
License name: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB01 - E-Dissertationen

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