8. 12. 2023

‘Circular Economy of Wastewater’ chapter in O’Hare and Ram’s book on Circular Economies

Sosna, D. (2024) ‘Circular Economy of Wastewater: Recirculation, Spinning, and Rolling to the Future’ in P. O’Hare and D. Rams (eds), Circular Economies in an Unequal World: Waste, Renewal, and the Effects of Global Circularity, 153-171, New York, Bloomsbury. DOI: 10.5040/9781350296664.0011


This chapter explores practices and ideas associated with the recirculation of landfill leachate at Czech landfills to understand the relationship between the circle as an abstract ideal and the circle as an economic model with its imperfections. The recirculation is understood here as a kind of circular economy because it organises matter, energy, technology, and labour using the logic of circular movement. An ethnographic immersion into the world of landfills and actors dealing with the fluid circulating there enables the author to draw attention to the ways in which seemingly separate natural processes such as water cycle entwine with a humanmade world and its technologies. The fluid nature of leachate offers a unique opportunity to trace the connections and effects across scales. A mobilization of circular movement in landfill leachate treatment cuts costs for the waste management companies but externalizes harm to the organisms who come into direct contact with this polluting fluid at the landfills and other places that become recipients of potential harm. The author argues that circular economic arrangements create opportunities for the hypertrophy of the market and functions as a time-machine that postpones the solution of waste’s toxicity. He joins the scholarship that calls for a more balanced understanding of circular economy, which represents it not only as a promise for more sustainable futures but also a powerful vehicle for the unexpected consequences of circularity.

The whole book is open access here: