Berkeley Talks


The global politics of waste

Ep. 81

"All waste is global," said Kate O'Neill, a professor in the the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, at a campus event in February. "What we throw away has value. What we throw away often travels the globe. And that's not just the things we know about like electronic wastes, but also plastics... and things like cars, used cars, secondhand cars, clothes, bikes — even discarded food — will actually travel to some other countries, someplace where it may or may not be used..."

O'Neill, author of the 2019 book Waste, gave a Feb. 5 lecture, sponsored by Berkeley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), about how the things we throw away go through entire lifecycles after we toss them. And she discusses how China's 2017 decision to stop importing paper and plastic scrap in the condition it had been has disrupted the global waste economy and changed how communities around the world recycle.

Read a transcript and listen on Berkeley News.

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