Action Research in Waste Management: Application to Construction and Demolition Waste in the Stockholm Region

The action research methodology and several of its methods have previously been highlighted and described by the authors as a fitting and rigorous framework approach for complex waste management systems. This was in response to criticism of the ex ante selection of traditional empiric systems analysis tools to provide decision support and ‘sustainable improvement’ in such complex systems which often involve strong human and political factors. Several of the action research methods described have recently been utilized in a case study around mineral (aggregate) construction and demolition waste in the Stockholm region. These methods were integrated through a series of workshops and work areas undergone together with project members from several private and public sectors. Leaving the problem fuzzy (loosely defined) in the beginning; utilizing convergent interviewing, rich pictures and focus groups allowed the researchers and partner stakeholders to identify not one but several problem areas within the system of focus. Indicator creation and a dialectic processes were then used to identify qualitative and quantitative aspects of salience around these problem areas. These resulting indicators were strengthened through a process of verification. Each indicator was then analyzed by what was deemed to be appropriate and transparent means. It is argued that this approach may create better communication, transparency, and understanding by the stakeholders. These factors in turn allowing stronger stakeholder ownership of the process and assisting in more informed decisions and help to provide stability for desired change. However the process was not without its drawbacks such as intense communication and time requirements.

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