ILLEGAL WASTE TRANSPORT AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC: AN ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
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In late 2005 Czech authorities first began to discover substantial amounts of municipal waste illegally transported from Germany to the Czech Republic. The dumping of more than 30 000 tonnes of German waste in 'black dumps' throughout the Bohemian countryside raised social, economic, and political questions about how to mitigate the negative human health and environmental impacts and prevent dumping in the future. In addition to prompting practical policy questions, the situation challenges sociologists to theorise the causes, effects, and possible responses to the problem. This article draws on the environmental sociological Treadmill of Production (ToP) theory to examine the role of the state in managing the crisis. The author presents the history of the Bohemian illegal waste problem and then describes and analyses relevant waste management policies in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the European Union in the light of the ToP theory, which hypothesises that environmental degradation is caused primarily by institutional political-economic forces, and that the protection of environmental quality can be achieved only through structural reform. The dilemma of illegal waste shipment highlights the difficult role of the government, which must balance its responsibilities to protect environmental quality and human health and promote commerce and economic growth in an international context. Data from interviews and documentary analysis are used to describe the case study and test the ToP theory. The author concludes that while the ToP theory is useful for analysing the illegal waste issue by highlighting the structural character of the problem, some refinement of the theory may be necessary to better understand this case study.
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