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Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

the industry has moved away from recycled inputs to

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Unformatted text preview: agement of both firm and supplier innovations; and implementation/adoption of the new, cleaner production technologies. Key participants in these processes are local community groups, domestic and international business interests, non-governmental organizations, regulatory agencies, bi- and multi-lateral aid agencies, and “green consumers.”54 In Southeast Asia, pulp firms are presently “among the most efficient in the world.”55 Wastes have been significantly lowered and two resources, water and chemicals, are being reduced and recovered. However, another key resource, fibrous raw materials, which had historically been reused, are no longer. “As the scale of production has increased . . . the industry has moved away from recycled inputs to greater reliance on virgin raw materials from native forests and tree plantations. . . . Perhaps the biggest Achilles heel of Southeast Asian pulp producers with regard to ecological modernisation is the criterion of dematerialisation.”56 Thus, despite significant gains in ecoefficiency brought about by technological improvements and social pressures, “resource conservation, one of the long-term objectives of ecological modernisation, thus remains in the distant future of Southeast Asian pulp industries.”57 This case identifies another issue that has not been adequately addressed by the practitioners of ecological modernization. “A further concern is the applicability of ecological modernisation theory to small- and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs], some of them government-owned. . . . In Southeast Asia’s pulp and paper industries, many SMEs are older, use poorer technology, and are more polluting. While it may make environmental sense to phase out some 232 CHAPTER SEVEN or many of such firms, doing so would have high social costs.” 58 Radicals would push this critique. If ecological modernization is only possible for large corporations, what does this mean for the accumulation of capital? Managerial critiques would, likewise, question the equity of a system that favors the largest producing groups over small-scale operators. Conce...
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