VIKTOR PÁL – Pour Me a Cold One: A Cold War History of Beverage Containers
Funded by KONE Foundation, 74 200 €
Duration: 2018-2019-2020, 24 months
This project will compare the controversial environmental history of beverage containers in Cold War USA – home of free enterprise, democracy and the disposable can – with the land of command economy, communism and refillable bottles, the USSR. This research will interpret the complex environmental, technological, social and cultural discourses by environmentalists, industry, and policy makers. It will focus on the complex role of the State, which amidst conflicting interests was to legislate beverage container recycling laws.
Since the 1970s, disposable beverage containers became emblems of consumerism and waste, as well as significant contributors to the global environmental crisis. Even though, the environmental impact of disposable beverage containers is understood widely, only a handful of countries developed effective beverage container recycling programs in the past. While the scientific community in environmental-focused social sciences generally agree that liberalism and participatory democracy are essential for effective environmental legislation, the most common and effective efforts to enhance environmental quality have focused on enacting laws that decrease the autonomy of individual actors and increase the power of the state to prescribe suitable behaviours. It is therefore relevant to compare how recycling debates unfolded and systems developed in nations with different political approaches to environmental law.
The historical comparison of beverage container recycling in the USA and the USSR enables us to challenge academic consensus, that most often focus on negative aspects of authoritarian environmental policy, frequently positing the lack of democratic input into the decision-making process as a key factor.
As well, produced research results will be disseminated via open access platforms with the intensive use of social media, video-sharing and MOOC targeting global audience and Global South.