ABSTRACT

Municipal solid waste (MSW) systems are locally managed and at the same time, part of a global network that involves various actors, processes, and regulatory standards. Due to their fragmentation and global scope, many aspects of waste systems remain opaque, which complicates the monitoring and enforcement of environmental crimes. As many cities have started to explore technological approaches to make the movement of waste more transparent and traceable, this chapter compares different methods, their implications, and critiques. Considering the central role of consumption and waste in contemporary society, each approach to making the waste system legible is necessarily reductive and shaped by the assumptions and interests of the technology provider. An ethical approach to making waste systems legible requires not only attention to the implications for affected communities, but also the consideration of the assumptions and conditions of data collection, which so far have often ignored questions of justice.