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Ruggiero, Vincenzo; South, Nigel (2010)
Publisher: Springer
Languages: English
Types: Article
Among all organisms inhabiting the planet, only humans generate masses of non-reducible waste. The problems of waste management and rubbish disposal are absolutely central and yet generally overlooked issues for a hyper-consumer society. These problems lead to uncomfortable questions and as with Al Gore's message about the challenge posed to human society by climate change, at the heart of these questions there is an „inconvenient truth about the crisis of waste that „rubbish society" brings with it and that urgently needs to be addressed (O'Brien, 2007; Girling, 2005). According to Rosenthal (2008), across continental Europe and in the USA, … longstanding landfill sites are filling up quickly, and in Europe's small spaces there is little room for new ones. The problem has made it imperative for European nations to cut their waste. By 2020, the European Union will require member nations to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills to 35 percent of what it was in 1995. It has already begun severely restricting and reducing the use of landfills, aka garbage dumps, because of the host of health and environmental problems they produce.\ud But none of this will be easy. Italy, Spain, Greece and Britain each still send more than 60 percent of their garbage to landfills. A recent study found that they, as well as Ireland and France, are unlikely to meet those long-term landfill targets. In 2006, the United States sent 55 percent of its waste to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Responding to the „inconvenient truth of impending waste management collapse will require changes in individual and social behaviours. In turn, such changes will require motivation, perhaps based on the exercise of incentives, encouragements to compliance or forms of regulation. This is necessary because finding workable and palatable alternatives to mass consumerism and hence mass waste production is harder and less attractive than engaging in denial and employing techniques that help us to neutralise – at least psychologically – the scale and significance of the problem (Sykes and Matza, 1957). However change is also difficult for other reasons, not least because waste disposal is highly profitable big business and attractive to both legitimate and illegitimate enterprises. In short, waste generates „dirty capitalism" and „toxic crimes".
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