Translating a Sustainability Experiment Across Contexts: A Case Study of Food Waste Management in Milan and the ACT




Wang, Shengnan

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Cities present both problems and solutions to sustainability challenges, including the issue of food waste. Urban households have received significant attention as they are one of the biggest contributors to such waste at the food consumption stage. Urban sustainability experiments are vital tools for cities to explore transitions towards more sustainable modes of production and consumption of food, especially when they are multiplied in other contexts, allowing broader sustainability goals to be achieved beyond local foci. Despite a growing body of literature on sustainability transitions focusing on how to ‘broaden’ and ‘upscale’ successful urban experiments, a comprehensive understanding of factors facilitating or obstructing the process of translating sustainability experiments has yet to be achieved. This thesis aims to address this knowledge gap by using two case studies to explore the opportunities and barriers involved in transferring a successful household food waste management strategy from one place to another. The city of Milan is used as the origin city in which the sustainability experiment was created and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the receptor city adopting the experiment. Interviews and surveys were conducted to examine the institutional, technical, financial and attitudinal opportunities and barriers in translating Milan’s experiment to the ACT. Possible ‘interactions’ between the ACT’s innovative niche experiments and Milan’s sustainability experiment are explored to understand the roles of existing innovative practices in contextualising an external experiment. Theoretically, the major finding is that existing local niche experiments play an important role alongside other, widely agreed factors in the process of contextualising external procedures. Practically, this thesis explores implications for future food waste management approaches in the ACT, concluding that the door-to-door separate food waste collection model and a combined solution (supporting existing innovative practices and implementing a centralised approach) to food waste processing might offer a preferred household food waste management method in future.






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