Regimes of waste (im)perceptibility in the life cycle of metal

Michael Picard, Tina Beigi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The transnational legal landscape governing waste management, recycling, and disposal remains narrowly focused on the economic possibilities of ‘end-of-life products', while paying little to no consideration to the much greater quantities of waste generated at the beginning of the product's lifecycle. We explore the existing regulatory framework through the duality of (in)visibility: whereas the circular economy of recycling increasingly integrates synthetic waste into the visible, the extractive industry buries biophysical waste into a ‘cradle-to-grave' economy. We argue that waste becomes a perceptible matter of concern when commodified into a new cycle of wealth accumulation. By contrast, when waste is abandoned on mining sites, it becomes an imperceptible matter of fact. Mining risks, although perceptible to the industry and affected communities, are rendered less visible to the administrative bodies in charge of regulating them. Therefore, waste (im)perceptibility is industrially manufactured according to the commercial aspects of a product, rather than its toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-218
JournalTransnational Legal Theory
Volume11
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • waste
  • transnational law
  • trade
  • metal
  • ecology
  • Bruno Latour
  • matter of fact
  • matter of concern

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Regimes of waste (im)perceptibility in the life cycle of metal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this