UCL Global


Circulations of Zero Waste

This project focuses on developing plans and processes to reduce waste in Lonon and Paris. Part of the Cities partnership Programme.

15 September 2022

Within a broad call for energy transitions in our contemporary lifeworld, waste has emerged as a significant category in terms of framing legitimate theoretical as well as practical concerns, capturing public imagination through policy promises such as zero waste programmes.

While zero-waste has allowed the positioning of ‘new’ waste management spearheaded by ‘circular’ models more centrally within the broader spectrum of sustainability, questions still persist around how easy it is to adopt a zero-waste principle to organise the entire life cycle of solid waste. As a result, zero waste often ends up becoming frustratingly imprecise and emptied of its meaning when applied empirically. Recognising the need for subjecting zero waste programmes to more detailed analysis and critique, this collaboration proposes a comparative study of zero waste programmes across the cities of London and Paris.

Even though London and Paris might seem similar or, at best, nominally different in their contexts as global cities, this comparative gesture is important as it offers a concrete exemplification that draws out the specificity of the two cases. It is quite well established that London and Paris have different waste streams and circumstances, requiring them to pursue specific waste management solutions. In asking what precisely do zero waste programmes tell about global cities such as London and Paris’s uneven geographies of waste production and disposal, this collaboration is an effort to bring academic research on zero waste into a more explicit conversation with policy approaches to zero waste programmes, acknowledging the significance of both in the way we have come to understand (zero) waste.



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