From 'a farewell to landfill' to 'waste as resource'

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The story of Swedish waste management in the last forty years is the story of A farewell to landfills. This farewell is paramount to a happy-end tale of sustainability. “Sweden is today recycling 97% of its household waste” (Avfall Sverige, 2010) proudly tells that Sweden has opened an era of sustainable waste management.
But is sustainability really so simple? Can there be another side to the story of how Sweden has developed a successful combined policy of incineration, recycling and biological treatments? Could Sweden’s pleasant farewell to landfills be a tale that conceals unpleasant
A critical reading of Sweden’s farewell to landfills in the light of ecosophy (Næss, 1989) and the European Waste Directive (European Union, 2008) shows that it is a tale that silences and neutralises alternative views and corporate strategies on waste and sustainability. For example, it is a tale silencing that incineration is a method rejected in many countries, and that not everybody considers energy recovery to be a form of recycling. Moreover, it is a
fundamentally anthropocentric tale but that paradoxically ignores the economic and behavioural dynamic that let humans produce waste in the first place. And, it is a tale that labels waste as a resource which is a label that fits better with waste growth than with waste
minimisation, despite the fact that the latter is definitely more sustainable than the former. A convincing story of an undeniable success, A farewell to landfills is a feel good story. But
feel good stories are conservative stories that invite us to dig us deeper in the cushions of our sofas. The question is whether digging us deeper into the cushion of petty recycling practices
can actually stand for a sustainable way of producing and consuming.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011
Event4th International Conference on Rhetoric and narrative in management research - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 2011 Mar 242011 Mar 26


Conference4th International Conference on Rhetoric and narrative in management research

Bibliographical note

Find a prelude and the abstract to the text on page 41 in the attached file.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


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