A transition towards a degrowth economy is necessary to tackle the related challenges of resource scarcity and waste accumulation. Degrowth pursues socio-economic wealth while reducing material flows and reusing waste in socially responsible and ecologically regenerative ways. As a concrete approach to realizing these ends, the concept of the circular economy has gathered political momentum. However, this model will have no impact on city-regions' ecological footprint unless it challenges the regulations that dismiss certain materials as waste in the first place. DECYCLE lays the groundwork for studying the regulatory frameworks that make it possible to revalue waste materials as a resource for city-regional development. It develops an approach termed 'institutional urban political ecology', which combines city-regions' regulatory, spatial, and ecological dimensions, usually studied separately. It interrogates the legal, spatial, and economic regulations that define waste streams' political responsibilities, geographies, and financial architecture. DECYCLE puts forward a new concept, the material valorization regime, to explain how these regulations govern the valorization of waste across multiple scales. It develops a distinct new method of 'enactment tracing' for critical urban research, which involves mapping actors engaged in defending and contesting regulations. DECYCLE comparatively analyzes how regulations valorize streams of construction, food, and heat waste in Hamburg, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna, and Milan. It also explains how transnational regulatory frameworks affect waste reduction at the city-regional scale. By theorizing the relationship between regulatory change and the urban metabolism in contemporary eco-capitalism, DECYCLE sets out to free urbanization from its dependency on the production of waste and raw materials. In so doing, it lays the foundations for future socio-spatial inquiry into the institutional basis of city-regional metabolisms.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme