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Zero Waste - A proposal for waste management

Zero Waste - A proposal for waste management


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By Luz Maria Piza

The strength of our economy has traditionally been measured in terms of production and consumption. Our culture has an insatiable appetite for material goods, not wanting to recognize the costs and the consequences for the environment from the extraction of the resource, manufacture, distribution and the enormous waste created at each step, throughout its elaboration.

Around the world an awareness is emerging to eliminate garbage

The UN predicts that by 2025 the developed world will increase the generation of waste per capita five times. This will result in more hazardous waste buried, burned or shipped to Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The situation seems to have reached a dead end. Unless a miracle occurs and waste magically turns into economic resources. Precisely what the international Zero Waste movement has postulated since the late 1980s.

“Zero Waste” is actually the only viable path to conserving natural resources and I am very pleased to share with you, dear readers, my own experience about the “Zero Waste” program in Ontario, Canada; where my conviction to specialize in urban waste management was born.


Personally, when carrying out this clean practice, I was able to verify how this country, with a long winter and an importer of a large part of its consumer products, was so rich, while we with an abundant natural wealth were so poor! His attitude towards nature and zero waste makes that big difference between our economies and wealth. In our case, it is necessary to change the unconscious - or conscious - action of throwing away our natural and monetary resources for a new ecological culture of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Starting from the basics, it is necessary to consider that the “Zero Waste” programs must be implemented locally. Oakville was the first city in Canada to achieve this huge and worthwhile goal. By forbidding by law to remove organic matter from houses and making it compulsory to process it into compost, as well as to condition sinks with fruit and vegetable peel shredders - whose waters are also treated for reuse-; they managed to reduce 50% of the volume of their waste. Likewise, the remaining volume of inorganic waste is collected at night and under a schedule of days pre-established by the recyclers themselves, practices that leave, both, only 5% for the landfill, hence its name of landfill. It should be noted that each inhabitant of this population is obliged to deliver the waste to the collectors, perfectly clean and dry, because otherwise they would have to face expensive fines that oscillate around 200 dollars and as the programs are implemented in a manner local, it is easy to identify its origin.

In addition to the environmental cost that garbage represents for the population, its management causes a high economic and social expense for governments. Sanitary landfills and open dumps are large deposits of methane that emit gases and toxins into the atmosphere.

Incinerators also cause greenhouse gases, heavy metals, particles and carcinogenic dioxins; These facilities, landfills, and incinerators poison the air, water, and soil.

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is based on a new form of solid waste management at the local level, involving municipal governments, companies and civil society. It focuses on tackling the problem of waste from its source, not only in the treatment of garbage to be recycled, but also in the recovery of organic matter and a better design of products to improve their useful life.

This idea stems from the fact that the excessive growth of waste in our industrial society, increasingly consumerist, wasteful and producer of waste; it is endangering the ability of natural resources to provide for our needs and for immediate future generations, such as our children and grandchildren.

The “Zero Waste” movement

According to the Grass Roots Recycling Network: “Zero Waste” is a philosophy of life and a model principle for the 21st century. It includes "recycling", yes, but it also goes beyond this method, by giving a "global system" approach to the vast flow of resources and waste in human society. “Zero Waste” maximizes recycling, reduces waste, reduces consumption and guarantees that products are manufactured to be reused, repaired or recycled to return to nature or to the market ”.


In 1990, activists in the Philippines were already using the term “Zero Waste”; later, in 1995, one of the first formal policies in this regard emerged, when Canberra, Australia, promoted the “No waste by 2010” approach. Since 1995, the “Zero Waste” proposal has been pushed as a goal by governments in New Zealand; Denmark; Seattle, Washington; Del Norte County, California; San francisco California; Santa Cruz County, California; Edmonton, Alberta, Ottawa, Ontario; and Nova Scotia in Canada; likewise, a number of national and international companies adopted some of the “zero waste” principles. In Latin America, the City of Buenos Aires plans to put aside the transfer of its garbage indefinitely to other municipalities and replace it with a schedule of progressive abandonment of the dependency on the sanitary landfill towards a “Zero Waste” program by 2020.

On a practical level, “Zero Waste” redesigns the current unidirectional industrial system to turn it into a circular system based on the successful strategies of nature; questions poorly designed business systems that "use too many resources to make too few people more productive," also relying on toxic materials. It addresses, through job creation and citizen participation, the increasing waste of human resources and the deterioration of democracy; helps communities achieve an efficiently functioning local economy that promotes good jobs and offers a measure of self-sufficiency, aiming to eliminate waste rather than manage it

This program requires, of course, root changes to the way waste flows in our society. An industrial system that directs the recovery of waste instead of its elimination, involving all the actors and sectors of the problem.

How to get to Zero Waste from a community and social level?

Assuming that, only with disposal, recycling and composting systems based on reduction from its source. Properly planned, organized and, above all, supported and promoted by governments and local authorities, it is possible to achieve this new, sustainable and responsible way of handling waste.

It is important to recognize the decisive role of the authorities and producers in this way of handling waste, but also to admit our commitment as civil society. Carrying out decisions and conscious actions about the separation, and even from our consumption. Going back to the small, to the local market or the unprocessed products and after an idea of ​​this magnitude, of excess consumption and lack of responsibility, a good measure for the treatment of waste.

Delete or Recycle?

It is known to all that every day we are burning and burying paper, metals and plastics, that if they were recycled, the destruction of forests, the erosion of soils (erosion) and the depletion of mineral resources could be reduced. In general and from the perspective of the huge planet that we have, there is great concern and concern, but very little intention in this regard.

However, there are viable mechanisms and programs that, beyond the valuable will that one has at home, are destined to obtain macro results through the redesign of: industrial production, packaging systems with a longer useful life, the use of products recycled at different levels of participation.

Such is the case of “Zero Waste”, a practice that far from looking like a futuristic version, is already a reality that favors different populations in different parts of the world. Capable not only of considerably improving the environmental conditions of the communities, but also and without a doubt, of being a project that brings economic dividends to societies and generates jobs for its inhabitants.

Zero waste in Mexico.

The Environmental Education Organization A.C. and Metropolitana Compañía de Seguros, implemented the “zero waste” pilot program, transforming the garbage dumps into a clean and separated waste center with a recovery close to 90%.


*Director
Org. of Environmental Education, AC
www.romacondesa.org

Sources:
www.zerowaste.co.nz,
www.grrn.org/zerowaste,
www.EcoPortal.net,
www.targetzerocanada.org


Video: ZERO WASTE MANAGEMENT PROPOSED FOR KARIMUDDINPUR 2017 (July 2022).


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