26 July 2019

Research pick: Waste not, want not - "Waste prevention: a misunderstood concept"

Much of the public is “on-side” when it comes to sort and recycling their rubbish, but what about the more fundamental concept of “waste prevention”. Despite thirty years of efforts, the message has got through about sorting and recycling but not concerning reducing the amount of waste the public generates. Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Development, Mickaël Dupré of IAE de Brest at the University of Occidental Brittany in France discusses how this situation might be remedied.

In his paper, he explores the social representation of waste prevention in order to identify how people think about this idea. If we can work out what people think of waste prevention it might be possible to find ways for citizens to deal with it. His findings suggest that waste prevention is largely understood as waste sorting. As such, he goes on to formulate some guidelines for the public that steps back from waste sorting and addresses the issue of how they can reduce waste generation in the first place.

“Creating a shared societal vision of waste prevention, therefore, appears as a sensible path to reduce waste. This could come under culture management, confirming the role of culture as a pillar of sustainable development, Dupré concludes.

Dupré, M. (2018) ‘Waste prevention: a misunderstood concept‘, Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2/3/4, pp.150-169.

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