Keywords: recycling, agrarian perspectives, urban technology, ecocyclical society, history, industrial ecology, agricultural science, agriculture, urban waste
Our finest gold: agrarian perspectives on urban technology from the mid-19th century to present-day ecocyclical society
This study examines how agricultural science, from the mid-19th century to present day, has maintained that urban technology should be designed in response to agricultural interests. Recycling of urban waste was regarded in the mid-19th century as a way of augmenting the fertility of the soil, while at the same time solving the sanitary problems of urban communities. By about 1900 this agrarian-scientific interest had cooled and water closets and non-processing sewerage systems eventually superseded recycling. In recent decades the idea of 'ecocyclical society' has achieved a broad impact in the bid to create a sustainable society. One finds that with recycling there has always been a gap between theory and practise, in that abstract arguments concerning the ecocycle and calculated benefits has run into technical and economic complications at the implementation stage.