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Welcome to Unmaking Waste 2018, an international conference hosted by the China-Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, and the University of South Australia.

The world is now literally drowning in waste and suffering from its multiple, serious and often very long-term impacts. Many now regard the ‘waste problem’ as symbol, content and consequence of our unfolding environmental crisis. With a particular emphasis on redesigning systems, processes and products to ‘unmake’ this destructive waste, this conference is intended to challenge researchers, from every relevant discipline, to rethink what can be done about our global ‘consumption problem’ and its multiple effects. We invite you to join us for three enriching days of presentations and discussion.

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Over the last two decades, much effort has gone into developing strategies to reduce waste and emissions in products, systems and the urban environment. However, accelerating rates of consumption and discard have continued to undermine many of these efforts, whether they are couched in the language of the circular economy, ‘transition theory’ or ‘zero waste’. It is clear that we need new systems-based approaches to reduce rising levels of resource consumption and energy use in order to implement a more equitable and environmentally sustainable society and economy.

But we especially need to attain more sustainable levels of consumption. In fact, the problem of overconsumption is rarely addressed even in recent initiatives that promote the circular economy around the world, except perhaps as the expected outcome of more eco-efficient productive systems, or as part of making long overdue changes in global supply chains. Researchers from every relevant discipline are now invited to come together to develop new ways of understanding this fundamental problem, and other related issues, and how – through various forms of systemic change – more ‘circular’, and sustainable, forms of consumption might be realised.

Building upon the achievements of our first conference, Unmaking Waste: Transforming Production and Consumption in Time and Place (May 2015), Unmaking Waste 2018 will be focused on the problem of consumption itself, and its role in increasing emissions, resource depletion and environmental degradation. The following themes will be addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective:

  1. Eco-Design and Development:
    Designing, defining and managing objects, buildings, precincts and systems to reduce resource and energy use, and thus increase environmental and human well-being.
  2. Sustainable Consumption:
    Transforming behaviour, social practices, everyday consumption and service provision, including marketing, to better suit a resource-constrained, environmentally challenged world.
  3. Waste Minimization:
    Reducing waste and pollution at all scales, in all domains and activities, and in all places, and transforming this waste and pollution into states of greater value for reuse.
  4. Circular Economy:
    Optimizing social, material and economic relations and the value of goods and services to further the goals of the Circular Economy, including product and environment life-extension, reuse and repair.