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

Beigi, T; Picard, MH; (2020) Regimes of waste (im)perceptibility in the life cycle of metal. Transnational Legal Theory , 11 (1-2) pp. 197-218. 10.1080/20414005.2020.1778878. Green open access

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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.

Type: Article
Title: Regimes of waste (im)perceptibility in the life cycle of metal
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/20414005.2020.1778878
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/20414005.2020.1778878
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: (Im)perceptibility, waste, transnational law, trade, matter of fact and concern, metal, ecology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office > UCL Institute for Advanced Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106464
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