Waste governance and ecological identity in Maui, Hawaii, USA

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Abstract

Recent scholarship examining environmental governance and solid waste management (SWM) in Hawaii has demonstrated the complexities of managing refuse in a remote, ecologically sensitive archipelago. Despite decades of calls for intensive recycling, composting, incineration, and other non-landfill disposal technologies, most islands of Hawaii continue to rely on sanitary landfilling. On Maui, a minor bureaucratic scandal centered on landfill permitting triggered the formation of an ad hoc entity intended to change SWM once and for all – the Solid Waste Resources Advisory Committee (SWRAC). I mobilize scholarship on waste governance, and in particular the ‘modes of governing’ framework to interrogate the decision-making processes of the SWRAC, evaluate their outputs, and consider the reasons for their ultimately limited impact on SWM governance on Maui. Based on a close reading of SWRAC meeting minutes and documents, I identify several factors, including the lack of clear goals or targets for SWRAC activity; a flawed, consensus-oriented decision-making process; and a failure to contextualize SWM within the broader environmental and cultural terrain of Maui. Taken together, I contend that these three problem areas underline the significance of seriously incorporating and harmonizing competing conceptions of ecological identity into both the ‘modes of governing’ framework and the scholarship of environmental governance more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalGeoforum
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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