The Ideal of a Zero-Waste Humanity: Philosophical Reflections on the Demand for a Bio-Based Economy

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (2):353-374 (2015)
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In this paper we inquire into the fundamental assumptions that underpin the ideal of the Bio-Based Economy as it is currently developed . By interpreting the BBE from the philosophical perspective on economy developed by Georges Bataille, we demonstrate how the BBE is fully premised on a thinking of scarcity. As a result, the BBE exclusively frames economic problems in terms of efficient production, endeavoring to exclude a thinking of abundance and wastefulness. Our hypothesis is that this not only entails a number of internal tensions and inconsistencies with regard to the ideal of BBE, but ultimately undermines the ideal itself, by pushing purported regenerativity into a cataclysmic and terminal discharge. We here point to the strategies that the BBE employs in this exclusion, the fundamental assumptions regarding the relation between energy and economy that underpin this endeavor, as well as to the resulting inconsistencies and their catastrophic consequences. We finally argue for the introduction of the presently excluded question of abundance and wastefulness and explore the implications of such a question for the ideal of a zero-waste humanity


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Author Profiles

Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research
Jochem Zwier
Radboud University