Waste Utopias: Lessons from Socialist Europe for the Twenty-First Century


Zero waste programs of governments and corporations, as much as they claim to be unprecedented and innovative, have a precursor in socialist countries. This essay focuses on a social experiment in 1950s Hungary where waste collection and reuse campaigns became established as an integral part of the government’s planned economy, albeit for economic reasons rather than ecological ones. The challenges encountered during this program—including problems with subcontracting, unrealistic quotas, and waste oversupply—can offer lessons for us today.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/7543