Future-Proofing Capitalism

The Paradox of the Circular Economy

  • Thu 12 Dec 19

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Professor Alice Mah

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Linsey McGoey

Join the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation for an insightful open seminar with Professor Alice Mah

Alice Mah is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick and Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded project “Toxic Expertise: Environmental Justice and the Global Petrochemical Industry” (2015-2020).

Over the past decade, the circular economy has emerged as a dominant global sustainable business model, based on the aspirational idea of “zero waste” in industrial systems through recycling, reuse, and recovery. This talk argues that the circular economy offers something grander yet more nebulous than other corporate sustainability discourses: a technological fix to linear “take-make-waste” models of industrial growth, without actually giving up on growth. It focuses on the flagship example of the circular economy for plastics, which is backed by international legislation on waste management and recycling. 

Drawing on a range of corporate and policy sources, this talk examines two corporate strategies for “future-proofing” plastics markets: 1) containment of the circular economy discourse through technical input into industrial policies; and 2) proliferation of risky new chemical recycling technologies. The paradox of the circular economy is that it appears to offer a radical challenge to business as usual, yet it remains fundamentally rooted in unsustainable consumption.

This seminar is part of an open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation.

To find out more about the centre, visit our website.

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