Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Community Development

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Overview

More Americans recycle than vote. And most do so to improve their communities and the environment. But do recycling programs advance social, economic, and environmental goals? To answer this, three sociologists with expertise in urban and environmental planning have conducted the first major study of urban recycling. They compare four types of programs in the Chicago metropolitan area: a community-based drop-off center, a municipal curbside program, a recycling industrial park, and a linkage program. Their conclusion, admirably elaborated, is that recycling can realize sustainable community development, but that current programs achieve few benefits for the communities in which they are located.

The authors discover that the history of recycling mirrors many other urban reforms. What began in the 1960s as a sustainable community enterprise has become a commodity-based, profit-driven industry. Large private firms, using public dollars, have chased out smaller nonprofit and family-owned efforts. Perhaps most troubling is that this process was not born of economic necessity. Rather, as the authors show, socially oriented programs are actually more viable than profit-focused systems. This finding raises unsettling questions about the prospects for any sort of sustainable local development in the globalizing economy.

Based on a decade of research, this is the first book to fully explore the range of impacts that recycling generates in our communities. It presents recycling as a tantalizing case study of the promises and pitfalls of community development. It also serves as a rich account of how the state and private interests linked to the global economy alter the terrain of local neighborhoods.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
[This] important book ostensibly concerns urban recycling, but it actually treats the paradox of sustainable community development in the age of global capitalism . . . [It] has important implications for social, community, and environmental advocates, and for students of contemporary urban life.
Times Higher Education Supplement
Urban Recycling makes a refreshing change from the usual waste-management books with their worthy but often dull descriptions of the waste hierarchy and bottle banks. . . . This text, an analysis of United States community recycling programmes, has a different approach, with emphasis on community rather than recycling.
— Jane Powell
Organization and Development
A sophisticated examination of recycling. . . . Urban Recycling presents readers with a holisitic study that will illuminate the history of recycling while examining the problems of achieving sustainability within a profit-driven economic system.
— Brett Clark
Contemporary Science
The next time you finish that can of pop, you might want to just chuck the empty in the street. This is not the conclusion, but it is the implication, of Urban Recycling. . . . [T]his book is a great read for anyone inside or outside academia wondering what to do with that empty pop can.
— Randy Stoecker
Times Higher Education Supplement - Jane Powell
Urban Recycling makes a refreshing change from the usual waste-management books with their worthy but often dull descriptions of the waste hierarchy and bottle banks. . . . This text, an analysis of United States community recycling programmes, has a different approach, with emphasis on community rather than recycling.
Organization and Development - Brett Clark
A sophisticated examination of recycling. . . . Urban Recycling presents readers with a holisitic study that will illuminate the history of recycling while examining the problems of achieving sustainability within a profit-driven economic system.
Contemporary Science - Randy Stoecker
The next time you finish that can of pop, you might want to just chuck the empty in the street. This is not the conclusion, but it is the implication, of Urban Recycling. . . . [T]his book is a great read for anyone inside or outside academia wondering what to do with that empty pop can.
From the Publisher

"[This] important book ostensibly concerns urban recycling, but it actually treats the paradox of sustainable community development in the age of global capitalism . . . [It] has important implications for social, community, and environmental advocates, and for students of contemporary urban life."--Choice

"Urban Recycling makes a refreshing change from the usual waste-management books with their worthy but often dull descriptions of the waste hierarchy and bottle banks. . . . This text, an analysis of United States community recycling programmes, has a different approach, with emphasis on community rather than recycling."--Jane Powell, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A sophisticated examination of recycling. . . . Urban Recycling presents readers with a holisitic study that will illuminate the history of recycling while examining the problems of achieving sustainability within a profit-driven economic system."--Brett Clark, Organization and Development

"The next time you finish that can of pop, you might want to just chuck the empty in the street. This is not the conclusion, but it is the implication, of Urban Recycling. . . . [T]his book is a great read for anyone inside or outside academia wondering what to do with that empty pop can."--Randy Stoecker, Contemporary Science

Times Higher Education Supplement
Urban Recycling makes a refreshing change from the usual waste-management books with their worthy but often dull descriptions of the waste hierarchy and bottle banks. . . . This text, an analysis of United States community recycling programmes, has a different approach, with emphasis on community rather than recycling.
— Jane Powell
Organization and Development
A sophisticated examination of recycling. . . . Urban Recycling presents readers with a holisitic study that will illuminate the history of recycling while examining the problems of achieving sustainability within a profit-driven economic system.
— Brett Clark
Contemporary Science
The next time you finish that can of pop, you might want to just chuck the empty in the street. This is not the conclusion, but it is the implication, of Urban Recycling. . . . [T]his book is a great read for anyone inside or outside academia wondering what to do with that empty pop can.
— Randy Stoecker
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691050140
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/24/2000
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix
Chapter One: Urban Recycling: An Empirical Test of Sustainable Community Development Proposals 3
Sustainable Community Development 4
Recycling as a Case Study in Sustainable Community Development 7
The Rise of Recycling: "Why Waste a Resource?" 9
Contemporary Recycling Practices 22
The Chicago Region as a locale for Examining Recycling and Sustainable Community Development 27
Chapter Two: The Challenge to Achieve Sustainable Community Development: A Theoretical Framework 30
The Treadmill of Production as a Modern Political-Economic Model 30
Conflict, Power, and Dialectics: A Political Economic Perspective 35
Allocating Scarcity: A Central Parameter 40
Political Consciousness in the Managed Scarcity Synthesis 43
The Treadmill of Production and Recycling: Overt and Covert Conflicts 43
Limitations of Our Analysis 47
Chapter Three: Chicago's Municipally Based Recycling Program: Origins and Outcomes of a Corporate-Centered Approach 50
Who Is Riding the Tiger? The Alliance between the City of Chicago and Waste Management, Incorporated 50
Promises and Pitfalls of the Blue Bag Program 54
Early Problems with the Blue Bag: Miscalculating Start-up Costs and Recovery Rates 58
Occupational Safety Issues: Challenges and Responses 66
Reclaiming the MRRFs: Chicago's Attempt to Regain Control 72
Conclusion: The Blue Bag Program and the Three Es of Sustainable Community Development 74
Chapter Four: Community-Based Recycling: The Struggles of a Social Movement 78
Community-Based Recycling Centers 78
The Model for Community-Based Recycling Centers: The Resource Center 78
Replicating the Resource Center: Uptown Recycling, Incorporated 83
Limitations of the Community-Based Model 90
Social Movement Struggles in a Global Marketplace: The Demise of Community-Based Recycling? 94
Moving toward the Three Es: Assessing the Achievements of the Community-Based Centers 100
Community-Based Sustainable Development Enterprises: "Doing Good but Not Doing Well" 104
Chapter Five: Industrial Recycling Zones and Parks: Creating Alternative Recycling Models 107
Environmental Movements and Industrial Ecology: The Logic of Recycling Parks and Recycling Zones 107
Promises in Maywood 110
Reviving West Garfield Park: The Bethel New Life Story 118
Resistance to Innovations: DuPage County and Gary, Indiana 120
Planning for Industrial Recycling Zones: Is Ecological Modernization in Our Future? 124
Chapter Six: Social Linkage Programs: Recycling Practices in Evanston 132
Finding Alternatives: The Road to Locating the Three Es 132
Recycling Working as a Social Linkage: The Rise of the PIC Program in Evanston 132
Delinking the Evanston Program: The New "Bottom Line" Orientation to Local Recycling 142
Understanding the Dimensions of Variability in Recycling Programs 149
Searching for Sustainable Development: Do Technology and Scale Matter? 151
Chapter Seven: The Treadmill of Production: Toward a Political-Economic Grounding of Sustainable Community Development 156
Revisiting the Treadmill of Production 156
The Globalizing Treadmill 158
The State's Ambivalent Role in Managing the Treadmill 162
Grounding Sustainable Community Development in the Treadmill of Production 164
Conclusion: Relationships in the Treadmill 172
Chapter Eight: The Search for Sustainable Community Development: Final Notes and Thoughts 176
The Political Economy of Solid Waste Management 176
Critical Social Science: Power, Education, Community, and Politics 179
The Economic Geography of Waste: Generalizing beyond Chicago and beyond Recycling 195
Final Reflections 199
References 203
Index 217
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Recipe

"This book represents a ground-breaking attempt to understand an important emerging dimension of the American economy. It will have a considerable impact on the way social scientists understand sustainable development initiatives. . .The recent travails of New York City in trying to find a new home for its garbage suggest that the phenomena examined in this book have an enduring practical significance for most Americans in metropolitan areas."—Thomas Rudel, author of Situations and Strategies in American Land Use Planning

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