Headline: Negotiating Visions of Waste: On the Ethics of Maintaining Waste Infrastructures

This chapter focuses on the maintenance of waste infrastructures in urban areas, arguing that waste infrastructures and their maintenance should be made more visible to allow for a more extensive, ethical engagement with waste. This contribution claims that cities need to approach the (re)design of municipal waste infrastructures through dynamic maintenance and reflexive repair, wherein waste, repair and maintenance are understood as discursive processes. Waste infrastructures and their maintenance are mostly invisible in daily interactions in cities in High-Income Countries, despite the diversities in waste practices, such as collection and processing. Invisibility is an intended outcome of the design and operation of these infrastructures, stemming from a nineteenth-century waste imaginary called ‘the tidy city’. Current municipal waste infrastructures are kept invisible, upholding beliefs and practices that disvalue waste. While visions have been proposed that challenge this disvalue, few of them have been able to materialise in stratified municipal waste management systems. This engagement is seen as a first step in challenging modern notions of dirt and waste. Visibility is a (new) design criterion for municipal waste infrastructures, a criterion that the authors relate to waste-affirming beliefs and practices, elaborating on anthropological perspectives on dirt and waste.

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Monographs and Edited Volumes

Alleblas, J., & Hofbauer, B. (2024). Negotiating Visions of Waste: On the Ethics of Maintaining Waste Infrastructures. In M. Coeckelbergh, & M. T. Young (Eds.), Maintenance and Philosophy of Technology: Keeping Things Going (pp. 279-305). Abingdon: Routledge.

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