Supply and Demand and Global Supply Chain

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asked you to give some thought to a TMA02 question asked of students on a previous round of this course. We discussed the relevant ideas from the 'material lives' strand and came up with a structure for a plan, outlined below.

Rising affluence has been associated with a reduction in the production of waste emissions within the UK. However, the waste emissions associated with the total consumption of the UK have risen. Explain how both these statements can be true. In the light of your explanation, is current consumer society sustainable?

TMA02: Plan


Establish context and give definitions:

• Consumer Society: Society defined as much by how or what people purchase and use as by what they make or do; Sustainable: Ability to endure or continue into the long term.

Outline argument and structure: 

• seeming contradiction explained by the globalised production; overall more waste is produced; consumer society not sustainable.

 Main body:

1) Rising affluence=reduction in production of waste emissions within the UK.

• Evidence of rising affluence (figs 1 and 2 p. 111-12) • Table showing decrease in rubbish and increase in recycling between 1983/84 and 2006/07. (p117)

2) Rising affluence= increase in waste emissions associated with total consumption of UK.

• Global supply chain (p84). Supply and demand- Production moving abroad to meet demand at lower prices. • International disposal and recycling industry.  Emma Maersk (p119)

3) Is consumer society sustainable?

• No, see ecological debt day - UK compared to Africa (p138) • Recycling produces waste so not solution (Rubbish society CD) • Negative externalities not accounted for revaluing the environment might help? (p137)


Statements both true due to global supply chain

Consumer society not currently sustainable unless negative externalities taken into account
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