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Title: Landfill Earth: A Global Perspective on the Waste Problem
Author: Zhang, Tianyu
Director/Tutor: García Juanatey, Ana
Keywords: Residus
Treballs de fi de màster
Waste products
Master's theses
Issue Date: May-2020
Abstract: The 20th century’s increase in waste generation has caused waste management to emerge as one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. As countries have found themselves overwhelmed with the task of managing the waste they produce, they have resorted to trade as a cheap management practice (Asante-Duah & I.V.N., 1998; European Environment Agency, 2019; Lipman, 2002; Sembiring, 2019). The biggest importer of waste in recent decades has been China (Greenpeace, 2019); however, the country has recently begun to impose regulations and bans on the waste trade (Mosbergen, 2018; SRS Media, 2019; Zhao, 2017). This has had a huge impact on the global waste management system, pushing many countries’ domestic recycling facilities close to collapse and altering the direction of international waste flows, since most countries’ response is still to look for alternative dumping places instead of improving their own waste management systems (Media, 2019; Katz, 2019; Anthesis, 2019; Ross, 2018; European Environmental Agency, 2019; Greenpeace, 2019). Many recent studies have focused on the impact that the waste trade has had on the environment, since importing countries tend to have lower environmental standards and management capabilities. Sembiring (2019) does not seem to condemn it: she sustains, after having analyzed the industry from an economic and environmental perspective, that this system seems to be the most effective way to allocate resources to manage waste. However, other researchers in the field such as Asante-Duah & I.V.N. (1998) and Lipman (2002) tend to take a sharply critical approach to the waste trading and denounce the implications it has for human health and the environment. Furthermore, Lipman (idem) refers to the “polluter pays” principle to assert that countries should solve their waste problems themselves as it is their responsibility to deal with their own waste, rather than exporting it to industrializing countries in an even worse position than themselves to solve it. This is a view shared by many environmental and trade academics. All in all, there is a quasi-consensus that the current waste trade has a short-termist approach to waste management and is based essentially on economic principles that disregard environmental issues. However, few researchers have proposed long-term sustainable solutions to the problem or addressed its root —the overproduction of waste. On this note, it is worth mentioning the contribution by Singh (2014) who points to the lack of a holistic approach to the waste management system that aims at reducing waste from the start point of product creation, rather than only after the waste has already been produced. She claims that our practices should focus on preventing the problem rather than finding solutions to it. In practice, while there exists some international regulation for waste trading, there is an absence of a collective, holistic and long-term approach to solving the global waste problem. Starting from the hypothesis that the existing legal definitions of waste complicate waste minimization, this paper aims at addressing the aforementioned issues. In other words, by analysing the current global waste management system, this paper also intends to show how the lack of a more holistic approach to the management system thwarts any effort at managing, and more importantly, reducing waste.
Note: Màster en Diplomàcia i Organitzacions Internacionals, Centre d'Estudis Internacionals. Universitat de Barcelona. Curs: 2019-2020. Tutor: Ana G. Juanatey
Appears in Collections:Màster Oficial - Diplomàcia i Organitzacions Internacionals

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