Waste has until now mainly been a technical problem, matched by technical solutions in waste disposal, waste management, and recycling. But waste is a complex phenomenon that can only be fully understood by exploring cultural perceptions and social practices alongside the technical strategies for dealing with waste. A broader view helps us to focus more clearly on the political topicality of waste, for instance in the context of the fast-growing megacities. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that there has not yet been any systematic research into the social, legal, and political discussions about waste in the light of modern developments.
In the CAS project on "Waste in Environment and Society," researchers from eight different LMU faculties are working together to develop a new methodological approach, combining their multidisciplinary expertise into a common research framework that incorporates the praxis, norms, and context of waste. They explore where waste comes from, how it travels, which external factors and ethical taboos influence our understanding of waste, and the normative status of our reactions to discarded and unwanted things. Their analysis aims to open a new understanding both of the theory and practice of waste.