Elgar Research Agendas
Edited by Barbara Czarniawska
Chapter 11: Waste management: the other of production, distribution and consumption
Italian novelist Italo Calvino ( 1974: 102–103) described Leonia as a city where ‘every morning the people wake between fresh sheets, wash with just-unwrapped cakes of soap, wear brand-new clothing, take from the latest model refrigerator still unopened tins, listening to the last-minute jingles from the most up-to-date radio’. This opulent newness is dependent upon garbage trucks collecting the remains of Yesterday’s Leonia every morning and driving it outside the city, where ‘the outflow increases and the piles rise higher, become stratified, extend over a wider perimeter’. Leonia is actually surrounded by waste, and ‘[p]erhaps the whole world, beyond Leonia’s boundaries, is covered by craters of rubbish, each surrounding a metropolis in constant eruption’. The higher the pile of rubbish that surrounds Leonia, the more the danger of a landslide looms: a tin can, an old tire, an unraveled wine flask, if it rolls toward Leonia, is enough to bring with it an avalanche of unmated shoes, calendars of bygone years, withered flowers, submerging the city in its own past, which it had tried in vain to reject, mingling with the past of the neighboring cities, finally clean. Calvino insinuated that waste waits, patiently. However, waste is already amongst us, calling into question the current institutional order of an endlessly growing linear flow of production → distribution → consumption.
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