‘Modes of governing’ and solid waste management in Maui, Hawaii, USA

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Maui, Hawaii, USA is an island with sensitive ecosystems and sharply circumscribed spatial resources for waste disposal. Despite the State of Hawaii's preferences to the contrary, Maui remains heavily dependent on landfilling and to a lesser extent, landfill diversion techniques to manage its solid waste. This article examines the history of solid waste management on Maui through the lens of Bulkeley, Watson, and Hudson's (2007) ‘modes of governing’ framework for the analysis of environmental and infrastructural policy issues. This approach asks users to consider equally and simultaneously the structures, processes, technologies, and ultimately, multiplicities of governance activities. Based on an analysis of approximately 200 government, private firm, and news media documents, it is demonstrated that private firms played a very significant role in shaping solid waste management on Maui, and were able to introduce their own desired modes for governing solid waste management that supplanted the preferences of State and County entities. In making this addition to the original modes of governing framework, it is argued that differences in both legal authority over and functional proximity to the practices and processes of solid waste management on Maui spurred the deployment of and competition between multiple modes of governing solid waste management there, as well as the eventual entry of private firms into the solid waste management process. Ultimately, the fragmentation of solid waste management practices on Maui has resulted in a somewhat ambivalent outcome for the natural environment. As such, this study adds to growing literatures examining both solid waste management and environmental policy issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2169
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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