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The Largest Environmental Movement: Recycling and Consumption Work in Sweden

Wheeler, Kathryn (2013) The Largest Environmental Movement: Recycling and Consumption Work in Sweden. Working Paper. Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation (CRESI) Working Paper 2013-02, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.

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By sorting their waste for recycling, Swedes are told that they are part of 'Sweden's largest environmental movement' (Avfall Sverige, 2008). Recycling in Sweden is understood as an environmental action by all parties within society (including consumers, municipalities, and producers) and the country is proud of its identity as a world-leader on environmental issues. The system for recycling in Sweden asks a lot of the consumer who must not only sort their waste into different fractions but transport it to the appropriate bring station. Yet the country achieves high rates of materials (33 per cent) and biological recycling (15 per cent) and they proudly proclaim to recycle 99 per cent of their waste, with their belief that incineration with energy recovery is a form of recycling (Avfall Sverige, 2012). This paper explores how recycling has developed as an everyday ethical practice, considering the role of different institutions in the promotion of recycling and responsible waste management. This paper has been developed as part of an ERC-funded project, 'Consumption Work and Societal Divisions of Labour', whose key aim is to demonstrate the role that consumers play in the labour process, using comparative methods. In the case of recycling, by sorting their waste, consumers play an integral role in the division of labour within waste management in Sweden and their role differs substantially to the role of consumers in England (the other country in which recycling consumption work has been explored, see Wheeler, 2013). This paper illustrates how the consumer is encouraged to perform this work, drawing attention to what the work actually comprises. It also uncovers the organisations that shape this distinctive system of provision and moral economy of recycling.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Consumption Work; Division of labour; Environmental Policy; Moral Economy; Recycling; Sweden
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2013 15:26
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 01:08

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