Work in Waste: Technology, Infrastructure, Politics

Smita Srinivas and Saku Makinen have been studying the utility of different technology transfer waste processing and absorptive capacity frameworks to see whether Finnish waste technology firms can adapt to waste processing contexts outside of Finland. Former TCLab Program Manager  May Yu recently completed her thesis research studying the complexities of this process in Brazil. In the thesis "Protecting Local Livelihoods in Urban Sustainable Development: Environment-Employment Tradeoffs of Jardim Gramacho in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil", Yu raises some questions for how decentralized industrial issues in waste processing are often left out of the urban and regional planning context. Employment and health concerns make a suitable response urgent, and Yu's research shows us a way forward.

These concerns are shared by Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, India. Chintan has been involved in some important work with informal waste processing workers and the missing “Space for Waste” in spatial planning.

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But health technologies have indeed transformed the industry, allowed several developing countries immense gains in healthcare, and for most industrilizing economies, opportunity for patients and welfre states to buy into wider technology options.

See TCLab-related research on the health industry, where industrial policy plays a critical role in how cheap or expensive healthcare is. Read the award-winning book Market Menagerie by Smita Srinivas.

Srinivas, S. (forthcoming, 2017) “Evolutionary Demand, Innovation, Development” in D. Nathan, S. Sarkar, and M. Tewari (Eds). Upgrading and Innovation in Global Value Chains in Asia (Cambridge University Press);

"For most, the match ends when the Sun goes down, but in the Morro da Mineira favela, in Rio de Janeiro, play can continue long into the night, thanks to lights powered by the players themselves.

The six LED floodlights surrounding the field are powered by 200 kinetic tiles buried under the Astroturf, which capture the energy generated by the players' footsteps.

As players put weight on the tiles beneath the pitch, it causes electric-magnetic induction generators to kick in and generate electricity."

Image copyright PaveGen

 

 

 

This article argues that the technological innovation is a contextual process whose relevance should be assessed depending on the socio-economic condition it is embedded in. Without this, technology-led economic policies (of Catch-Up varieties) are unlikely to meet the needs of most people, especially in countries where innovation and poverty reside side by side. We analyze micro-level account of the cognitive and socio-economic context within which innovations arise and argue that a process of real importance is being sidelined: the ability to innovate under 'scarcity' conditions.

In 2016 two talks were given in the US's agricultural heartland, Iowa. Iowa is the hub for biotech research and economic development pressures in "new" manufacturing.

The talks were held in the Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and at the City and Community Planning program at the Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames.