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Put-or-Pay: Erasing the Impacts of Waste-To-Energy through Narratives of Sustainability in Honolulu

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Title:Put-or-Pay: Erasing the Impacts of Waste-To-Energy through Narratives of Sustainability in Honolulu
Authors:Chatterson, Nicole
Contributors:Padwe, Jonathan (advisor)
Anthropology (department)
Keywords:Cultural anthropology
Environmental studies
discards
discourse
Honolulu
show 3 moresustainability
waste-to-energy
zero waste
show less
Date Issued:Dec 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:The City and County of Honolulu (the City) claims to observe the U.S. EPA waste hierarchy, which positions waste reduction as the most effective strategy for managing waste and minimizing pollution. Source reduction precludes the generation of trash through policy, education, and consumer-culture interventions. However, the City primarily manages waste only after it has been generated through H-POWER, a $ 1 billion waste-to-energy (WTE) facility which burns waste to create and sell ‘clean energy’. H-POWER is owned by the City and operated by the multi-national corporation Covanta, which has contractually required the City to provide 800,000 tons of trash input annually to maintain revenue streams, which equal about $130 million/year.
This thesis explores the material and discursive tensions of H-POWER as a sustainable waste management solution. Situated in a critical discard studies framework, and using tools from critical discourse analysis, this work unpacks the WTE-as-sustainability narrative offered by the City and Covanta, suppresses the serious consideration of waste reduction as a management modality and uplifts a neoliberal, technocratic waste-as-commodity approach that (re)creates consumer culture ideologies. This narrative positions H-POWER as: 1) a local clean energy source, and 2) a better choice than landfills. Zero Waste advocates contest WTE on the grounds that: 1) WTE generates problematic levels of GHG emissions, which are misrepresented in industry narratives, 2) WTE reinforces upstream pollution by incentivizing the production of goods to become trash-fuel, and 3) WTE is an environmental health concern.
Description:M.A. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Pages/Duration:85 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/62094
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.A. - Anthropology


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