The Politics of Waste Management in American Cities
195 Pages, 15 b&w photos
Sales Date: November 2, 2021
Resisting Garbage presents a new approach to understanding practices of waste removal and recycling in American cities, one that is grounded in the close observation of case studies while being broadly applicable to many American cities today.
Most current waste practices in the United States, Lily Baum Pollans argues, prioritize sanitation and efficiency while allowing limited post-consumer recycling as a way to quell consumers’ environmental anxiety. After setting out the contours of this “weak recycling waste regime,” Pollans zooms in on the very different waste management stories of Seattle and Boston over the last forty years. While Boston’s local politics resulted in a waste-export program with minimal recycling, Seattle created new frameworks for thinking about consumption, disposal, and the roles that local governments and ordinary people can play as partners in a project of resource stewardship. By exploring how these two approaches have played out at the national level, Resisting Garbage provides new avenues for evaluating municipal action and fostering practices that will create environmentally meaningful change.
In this important work, Lily Pollans critically examines US solid waste policy, contrasting the cities of Boston and Seattle as examples of compliant vs. defiant approaches to true sustainability. Pollans persuasively demonstrates how municipal managers play a key role in navigating the US’s 'weak recycling waste regime,' as exemplified by Boston’s compliance with the dominant top-down, disposal-focused model. Seattle offers a defiant way forward, institutionalizing the inclusion of voices normally sidelined in waste policy development. Mayors and public sector officials in cities that have branded themselves as leaders in Zero Waste should read this book, as should enthusiasts of a 'circular economy' vision that has thus far failed to deliver justice, accountability, or systemic change.
— Samantha MacBrideWith this book, recycling is born anew. By providing a uniquely comparative analysis of multiple cities and a detailed overview of real-time democratic deliberation, we learn that other wasteways are possible. An essential read.
— Joshua O. RenoLily Pollans’s comparative approach to understanding solid waste management in two large American cities, centered on the notion of a 'wasteway,' is truly additive to our collective understanding of how we handle garbage. Policymakers, environmentalists, and folks in the waste management industry will all find something to learn from this book.
— Jordan HowellAn excellent analysis of our individual and collective consumptive habits that produce waste. Through her comparison of two different American cities, Pollans offers incisive commentary on the creation of urban wasteways…[Pollans'] work can help us to determine if we are (intentionally or not) acquiescing to the extraction–manufacturing–consumption–waste chain or transgressing and resisting it.
— Metropolitics[Resisting Garbage] is deeply insightful, offering much for planning practitioners, planning scholars, and policymakers to consider. The book offers a cogent and hopeful rationale for planning, citizen participation, and innovative governance even as it remains firm in presenting the dire consequences of the United States’ lackluster performance in municipal recycling efforts and lack of traction in reducing the production of waste...The implications for planning and for rethinking urban wasteways in Pollans’s book are profound and worth reading.
— Journal of the American Planning Association[A] thought-provoking book...a meticulously detailed comparative analysis of waste management policy in two US cities: Boston, Massachusetts, and Seattle, Washington...By demonstrating contingency and alternative approaches to waste management through vivid case studies and intriguing concepts, Resisting Garbage provides both a practical guide and a theoretical contribution to understanding and reforming harmful wasteways.
— H-EnvironmentPollans’s book is a robust history of municipal waste policy in Boston and Seattle, with useful policy ideas for those interested in more sustainable urban waste policy.
— Journal of Urban Affairs
Chapter 1. The Evolution of America’s Weak Recycling Waste Regime
Chapter 2. Non-Planning for Garbage in Boston
Chapter 3. Deconstructing Garbage: Radical Reframing in Seattle
Chapter 4. Compliant and Defiant Wasteways: Boston and Seattle Within the WRWR
Chapter 5. Resisting Garbage