In this chapter, I will explain the two theoretical frameworks that I applied to this research: effectiveness and governance networks. The rationale for choosing these two in particular will be given in later. I will then introduce the conceptual framework of ‘environmental effectiveness,’ as suggested by government (2000a, 2000b), in order to examine how environmentally effective nation’s solid waste management is in reducing the negative impacts of waste on the environment. This concept of environmental effectiveness makes it possible to overcome the limitation of the conventional analysis of effectiveness, which is focused on institutional performance. In detail, I will explain ‘governance networks,’ which is adopted to examine the regulatory structure, one determinant of environmental effectiveness, of waste management. It will be given after reviewing the research tradition of governance networks. Lastly, limitations of the frameworks will be suggested later.
Rationale for choice of frameworks & Environmental effectiveness
The conventional approach of regime theorists in the study of international relations, where the focus is on how an institution functions, seems similar to that of the main research stream studies on waste. US govt. (2000a, 2000b, 2001a, 2001b, 2009) proposed the framework of environmental effectiveness to examine the effectiveness of international environmental agreements, after criticizing this conventional approach of regime theorists. The main interest of regime theorists is on the institutional performance (i.e., institutional effectiveness) of the agreements. In her researches, however, a meaningful point was raised that institutional efficiency does not solve environmental problems that these international environmental agreements are designed for. An agreement could fall short of its goals, even if it has satisfactory institutional effectiveness, because environmental necessities can be put aside. The example of CLRTAP, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, (Kütting, 2000a) illustrates how the work of maintaining a high level of cooperation (institutional feasibility) amongst diverse actors, can sometimes deprioritizes the actual environmental concerns that brought them together in the first place.
Most studies on waste management are similarly focused on the execution of waste management; that is to say, why the management was introduced, how the management is implemented, who is engaged in it, and what the management accomplishes (Davies, 2008; Karousakis, 2009; Minervini, 2013; Karre, 2013; Corvellec and Hultman, 2013; Schouten, Martin and Tillotson, 2015; Gustafsson, Hjelmgren and Czarniawska, 2015). There is also a tendency to employ the comparative method to show the differences in performance, development, outcomes and obstacles in waste governance, between different countries (Campos, 2013; Taherzadeh and Rajendran, 2015).
In summary, there are many more studies paying attention to the function of waste management, than there are looking into its ‘efficiency’ in preventing negative impacts done to the environment by waste. Accordingly, current research cannot adequately answer the following questions, because they require a critical perspective on the environmental effectiveness of the present-day waste treatment situation: Is recycling the best method to treat waste from an environmental perspective? Is energy recovery a truly circular way to utilize resources? Why is it so difficult to advance reuse and waste prevention methods in, given that the two are considered the most desirable methods in the waste management hierarchy?
There are a few meaningful studies that explore the limitations of the current waste management system. These studies claim that waste management should commit to changing the current performance towards more environmentally desirable methods, such as reuse and waste prevention (Fagan, 2003; Arcadis Belgium 2010; Bell and Sweeting, 2013). For example, Bell and Sweeting argue that the current waste policy in Bristol, UK, put more economic burdens on households while it is in favor of business actors (Bell and Sweeting, 2013). They contend that the reason for this unfair policy stems from a policy framework that prefers recycling over waste reduction.
It seems, however, difficult to find research that examines how effective waste management is in solving environmental problems regarding waste, and how far waste management has advanced to achieve more control over waste and environmental problems. Thus, the concept of environmental effectiveness can be a useful tool to
examine the effectiveness of waste management in the bigger picture, as determined by the four factors (e.g., economic structures, time, science, and regulatory structures) it is made up of. In addition, this enables to figure out how the waste management reflects and uses these four determinants in the management process, in order to create a more environmentally effective approach in waste management.
Significant changes occur, altering the role of local governments that are traditionally responsible for waste disposal. Diverse actors, including global entities, national and local governments, private actors, and civil organizations are engaged in the production, transport and treatment of waste that influence the environmental, social, economic and political conditions of a nation (Davies, 2008; Bulkeley et al., 2006). Thus, waste governance does matter, since “waste issues are present in the discussion involving different spheres of governance (public, private and civil society sectors) at a variety scales from the local to the global (Davies, 2008: 18).” In this situation, Davies mentions the benefit of waste governance analyses, saying, “waste governance analyses would seek to understand how decisions are made in relations to waste matter,” (2008: 15). Decisions or policies are outcomes of complex interactions between actors and agencies in the decision making processes of waste governance. Based these explanations, this thesis applies the governance network analysis to examine waste governance as a regulatory structure.
The first reason for this choice, is that waste governance is not accomplished by a single actor, but rather over networks of cooperating actors across professions and differing levels of government, (Fagan, 2004; Davies, 2008). This form of waste governance occurs in most European countries, and this includes Norway. The analysis of multilevel governance could also be utilized to explain the present state of waste governance (Bulkeley et al., 2006), since the implementation of waste management in a European region is heavily affected and shaped by EU directives and national laws. Although multilevel governance emphasizes the different degree of levels ranging from international to regional level when analyzing waste governance, the approach of governance networks seems more suitable to explain the current waste governance that is formed and carried out based on discussion and cooperation amongst the different actors in the network (Davies, 2008).
The second reason is that governance network analysis can be a useful for discovering the hidden story of the policy-making processes between actors in waste governance. Theorists adapting the network approach assume that it takes a process of negotiations, conflicts, and cooperation to come up with improved waste policies and strategies (Fagan, 2004). Thus, the analysis of governance networks enables an understanding of the following aspects: what waste governance is composed of; what kinds of networks belong to it; how these networks shape waste policies and public practices on waste issues; and who manages this governance, and how.