World’s waste issues in focus at Lancaster event

A digger moves rubble on a giant pile of waste

Experts from around the world will assemble in Lancaster to address one of the planet’s most pressing issues – waste.

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) will host the Opening the Bin 3 event between June 15 and 17, welcoming researchers and industry practitioners to discuss a range of topics.

“Waste is something we encounter every day,” said conference organiser Dr Alison Stowell, of LUMS, one of the event organisers. “As individuals it is something that we come across in everyday activities such as cleaning our teeth, flushing the toilet, or undoing wrappers to eat – and yet even in these activities it is often invisible. For businesses, there are the issues of industrial waste or the disposal of surplus materials. Through this community, we are trying to make the invisible, visible.

“Waste research is a mirror into who we are – individually, as a team, organisationally, as a society, or as the world. Whatever we discard personally or industrially tells us something about some practice and process that is in place.”

More than 100 attendees took part in the previous two Opening the Bin events at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Participants in Lancaster will hear from global experts including keynote speakers Professor Josh Lepawsky, of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador; Associate Professor Trisia Farrelly, of Massey University, New Zealand; Associate Professor Manisha Anantharaman, of Saint Mary’s College of California; and Professor Patrik Zapata, of the University of Gothenburg.

They will also be joined by Kay Johnson MBE, of the Larder in Preston, who specialises in food that produces as little waste as possible. Kay will be hosting a pop-up food event for attendees. They will also visit Lancaster company Relic Plastics, who recycle and repurpose plastic waste into new products.

“As a School, LUMS is engaged with many of the issues that waste involves,” added Dr Stowell. “It fits with the areas of social justice, responsibility and sustainability that are central to our research agenda.

“This event brings together an interdisciplinary group of waste studies researchers to discuss those issues, and we have some brilliant speakers and participants.

“It is about thinking about the role waste has in the economy, culture, and society. That could be anything from the ethics around what we or our organisations discard, or theorising around waste, through to waste as a particular occupation, reuse management, recycling management or some of the broader themes around the circular economy.”

For more information on the event, visit

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