This essay analyses the history of the development of municipal recycling in the United States between 1970 and 1996 as a case of Ecological Modernisation. Using the framework of Ecological Modernisation Theory (EMT), the essay examines the predecessor institutions to modern recycling, showing how environmental policy and politics in the US in the 1970s stimulated a process that altered the technologies, institutions, and environmental impacts of waste management; affected the industrial use of resources; and created many policy and socio-technical innovations. The resulting discipline, integrated waste management, shows a modernised structure, new technology, and an almost completely new discourse, representing a clear break with pre-modernised systems. The essay begins by contesting conclusions from the work of Allen Schnaiberg, David Pellow and Adam Weinberg, and concludes with proposed feedback to EMT on the nature and locus of environmental change outside of EMT's core geographic areas of North-western Europe
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