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Disrupted Waste Flows in a Broken World (DECAY)

Tampere University
1.9.2022–31.8.2026
Area of focusSociety, Technology

The research project examines our contemporary trashscapes beyond the utopian fantasy of the eternal redemption of waste as value.

Thematically the project is situated within the social scientific research on waste, and its general aim is to formulate a critique of the circular economy by disrupting the idea of endless recycling and waste-as-resource. We argue that all waste cannot be reclaimed, but there always remains something in it that does not circulate and cannot be recycled and reused.

The research is carried out through three ethnographic sub-studies on food waste, plastic waste, and waste incineration ash. Together the sub-studies not only shed light on the leaky realities of waste and follow the journeys of trash in and through different stages of its social life, but they also increase our understanding of the crucial part that the ordinary practices of patching-up and tinkering play in the everyday constitution of the circular economy.

Funding

Academy of Finland