The gateway to all good things? Commoning, sustainability, and post-capitalist possibility in UK community waste initiatives

Skarp, Sara (2021) The gateway to all good things? Commoning, sustainability, and post-capitalist possibility in UK community waste initiatives. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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There is a growing recognition that modern waste has serious sustainability and justice implications, for which capitalist waste management strategies appear insufficient. However, the extant literature on post-capitalism has not, to date, adequately dealt with waste. Likewise, critical waste studies rarely attempt to imagine what post-capitalist strategies for waste might be. This thesis sets out to address this gap. It does so by developing a novel conceptual framework that combines approaches to waste materiality with post-capitalist approaches to organisation, specifically commoning.

This thesis presents a multi-method study of community waste projects and how they prefigure post-capitalist waste strategies. Specifically, it draws on a mapping survey of the UK Community Waste Movement (n=75), with three in-depth case studies (a litter-picking group, a reuse hub, and an item-lending library), which used semi-structured interviews (n=35) and context observation to explore community waste organising on the ground.

This thesis highlights how the Community Waste Movement is diverse, yet struggles with recognition and funding. Even so, it provides vital services to society, from street cleaning to combatting loneliness, and through resistance and the simultaneous provision of alternatives it performs the possibility of more just and sustainable waste systems and practices. The novel conceptual framework highlights critical points of difference between community-based and mainstream capitalist waste strategies. By bringing waste and commoning together, it shows that grassroots responses to waste create possibilities that go beyond effects on waste tonnage. It also demonstrates, for the first time, how the simple acts of borrowing, reusing, and picking litter can prefigure post-capitalist waste strategies. The thesis concludes with a set of 12 principles for such strategies, relevant for present and future waste organisers, both in communities and Local Authorities. It ends by setting out an agenda for future research on approaches to post-capitalist organisation of and for was

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 08:48
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2022 08:48

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