Waste and the dissipative metamorphosis of nature
Waste disposal is a fairly recent problem in the history of industrialized countries, albeit an extremely complex one. In this essay, the author reminds us that the origin of consumerism dates back to the 1930s and began to produce its fullest and more pervasive effects only from the 1950s onward, when new productive and social models came to the fore. Before those years there was a long-lasting phase when industrial capitalism coexisted with recycling practices, perpetuating models typical of preindustrial societies, where only a small part of waste ended in dumps. Organic materials were re-employed in agriculture. Other materials, such as clay, wood, lead, iron, stones, lime, wool and leather were re-employed for other purposes. As quantities produced increased and the materials products were made of changed, waste turned increasingly into a political problem calling for a social and collective solution.