Wastes caused by rapid population growth, new technologic developments, industrialization and excessive consumption threaten the future of the world. Environmentalist agencies and governments have taken solid steps to draw attention to this issue and made waste management more efficient during the recent years. As a product of these efforts, “zero waste” concept includes the processes of waste prevention, efficient use of resources and avoidance of waste generation. Zero Waste drives all humanity to be more conscious and responsible for a clean world.
“Zero Waste” is defined as a waste management philosophy that includes processes such as waste prevention, efficient use of resources, avoidance or minimization of waste generation, and in case of waste generation, collection, sorting and recycling of waste. Today, damages to the environment caused by wastes have brought certain species to the edge of extinction. According to a UN report, one million species of plants and animals are faced with the danger of extinction. The report of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) announced in Paris last year also states that humanity is harming and destroying its own sources of living and loss of fertile soils has increased. In summary, it is emphasized that alarm bells are ringing for mother nature.
Environment and waste management
Any increase in waste cause unfavourable situations, mainly in environmental as well as economical and social terms. This brings up the waste management issue into the agenda of nations, which enables the wastes to be turned into raw materials and reused, in other words recycled.
Management of environment, a part of global system, includes a series of processes aimed at ecological balance and rational use of resources. Prevention or minimization of waste generation constitutes the first stage of waste management. If reuse is not possible, recovery of energy following recycling would be the next step. However, if waste cannot be prevented despite these steps, disposal stage is performed, which includes the processes of burning or storing the wastes.
Acting as a facilitator of energy and cost savings by enabling disposal of wastes at the stage of generation, adoption of zero waste solutions by the industry as a whole and incorporating it into our daily routines is becoming a priority to bequeath a liveable world to future generations. Besides, researchers emphasize the need for savings to be brought down to the family level, as the smallest unit of society, and individuals.
Education for conscious generations
While scientists agree that human activities are the main source of all waste, they also believe that the first step to be taken for the reduction, reuse and recycling of wastes should be based on education. In this respect, it is emphasized that administrations must assume the great responsibility of creating an environmental awareness in individuals and raising more environmentally conscious generations.
“Resource management instead of waste management”
Having participated in the Zero Waste Forum in Istanbul last year, Paul Connett, the founder of Zero Waste Solution, also states that zero waste has become the agenda of the entire world. Connett says that zero waste exists together with industrial and social responsibility. Pointing out to the fact that processing stages must be redesigned in all industries, Paul Connett says: “Everyone can perform waste sorting spontaneously. We must focus on resource management instead of waste management.” Connett suggests the following practices in zero waste process:
“Source separation of the trash, door to door collection of the separated trash, composting, recycling, opening reuse, repair and community centres, introduction of waste reduction initiatives, implementation of economic incentives, establishment of research centres for sorting left-over waste materials, industrial responsibility, and establishment of temporary landfills.”
Since energy and raw materials can be obtained from waste materials today, zero waste concept seems to be promising for providing great success in leaving a more healthy environment to generations. Making resource management more efficient is likely to hold onto its top spot in the agenda of nations for a long time.
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