TITLE: The Invisible Life of Waste: Development of an Ethnography-based Solution for Waste Management in Households

DURATION: November 2018 – October 2021

“Show me your garbage, and I will tell you who you are. Show me how much waste you produce, and I will tell you what kind of society you live in.” This is how Thomas Hylland Eriksen begins his book on waste (Søppel, 2011). In the Invisible Life of Waste project, we extend Eriksen’s idea by designing a study that will foreground the invisible life of waste as well as the range of people engaged in waste production and management – from consumers to sanitation workers.

The main goal of the project is to develop an innovative IT solution that will help detect and visualise the production of waste in households as well as promote waste reduction. The development of the solution will be based on people-centred and ethnography-based approaches and will begin with an analysis of waste management practices in six cities: Ljubljana (Slovenia), Graz (Austria), Trieste (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia), Oslo (Norway), and Dubai (UAE). The study will provide us with insights into the lifestyles of “invisible” actors – e.g. sanitation workers, labourers at landfills, and people working in recycling facilities – while also accounting for local attitudes to waste. In addition, the study will investigate waste as a relevant actor in global networks of production and consumption.