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Article

Regional Cooperation in Waste Management: Examining Australia’s Experience with Inter-municipal Cooperative Partnerships

Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, School of Design and the Built Environment, Curtin University, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia
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Academic Editors: Kristof Van Assche and Monica Gruezmacher Rosas
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1578; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031578
Received: 26 November 2021 / Revised: 17 January 2022 / Accepted: 20 January 2022 / Published: 29 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy and Governance: Evolutionary Perspectives)
Effective governance and inter-organisational cooperation is key to progressing Australia’s journey toward the circular economy. At the local governance level, inter-municipal cooperative partnerships in waste management (‘IMC-WM’ partnerships) are a widespread phenomenon throughout Australia, and the world. This paper aims to analyse waste management in Australia through a governance perspective and inaugurate the scholarship on understanding the complex interactions between actors and institutions designed for regional cooperation. To this end, we explore the partnerships’ institutional characteristics, joint activity outputs and the internal relations observed between participants. Data were collected through a nationwide census survey of Australia’s IMC–WM partnerships and a short online questionnaire to the municipal policy actors (councillors, executives and council officers) who participate in them. The investigation observes that a diversity of innovative institutional responses has emerged in Australia. However, within these partnerships, a culture of competitiveness antithetical to sustainability is also detected. Despite competitive behaviours, the partnerships perform very well in cultivating goodwill, trust, reciprocity and other social capital values among their participants—as well as a strong appreciation of the complexity of municipal solid waste (MSW) policy and the virtues of regional cooperation. This dissonance in attitudes and engagement dynamics, it is suggested, can be explained by considering the cultural-cognitive influence of broader neoliberalist paradigms. As the first scholarly investigation into Australia’s experience with regional cooperation in waste management, this research reveals the macro-level structures and ascendent micro-institutional dynamics shaping the phenomenon. View Full-Text
Keywords: waste management; inter-municipal cooperation; inter-governmental relations; municipal solid waste; public administration; governance; regional engagement; governance paradigms; collaborative governance waste management; inter-municipal cooperation; inter-governmental relations; municipal solid waste; public administration; governance; regional engagement; governance paradigms; collaborative governance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tobin, S.; Zaman, A. Regional Cooperation in Waste Management: Examining Australia’s Experience with Inter-municipal Cooperative Partnerships. Sustainability 2022, 14, 1578. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031578

AMA Style

Tobin S, Zaman A. Regional Cooperation in Waste Management: Examining Australia’s Experience with Inter-municipal Cooperative Partnerships. Sustainability. 2022; 14(3):1578. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031578

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tobin, Steven, and Atiq Zaman. 2022. "Regional Cooperation in Waste Management: Examining Australia’s Experience with Inter-municipal Cooperative Partnerships" Sustainability 14, no. 3: 1578. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031578

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