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Failing to Site Hazardous Waste Facilities Voluntarily: Implications for the Production of Sustainable Goods

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ABSTRACT A current approach to the process of siting hazardous waste facilities is to seek 'willing host' communities that will not oppose but rather voluntarily accept risky facilities. Voluntary siting strategies have been put forward as the solution to hazardous waste location problems, and there have indeed been a small number of siting successes achieved voluntarily. This paper argues that, despite claims about voluntary processes, there are indications that few 'willing host' sites will be found in response to the many that are proposed. Instead, it suggests that the limited success of siting attempts, voluntary or otherwise, signals a new phase in hazardous waste management, a shift in focus from where to site a facility to whether a good is worth producing at all if its wastes are not siteable. A characteristic of this phase is the growing influence that the disposal potential of the generated waste can have on future management decisions to produce a good. In practice, siting failure may be one of the critical turning points on the road to sustainable production. It can accomplish what technology and environmental assessments have generally been unable to do: foresee the sustainability of a good. In this way, siteability can be seen as one indicator of sustainable production. A good can be considered sustainable if the wastes associated with its production are siteable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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