Waste: In­tro­duc­tion


Southern Innovator - - WASTE & RECYCLING -

The world’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion is be­com­ing ever more ur­ban. This tran­si­tion has the po­ten­tial to dra­mat­i­cally im­prove hu­man de­vel­op­ment while re­duc­ing the stress that we place on the world’s re­sources. But this is not a cer­tain out­come and will not hap­pen un­less peo­ple make rad­i­cal changes to the way in which they live their lives.

The prod­ucts and re­sources that peo­ple use to im­prove their liv­ing stan­dards also de­plete fi­nite re­sources and of­ten leave pol­lu­tion and toxic waste be­hind. It has be­come clear that the cur­rent ap­proach to man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts is waste­ful and gen­er­ates vast quan­ti­ties of refuse. And the cur­rent ap­proach to cre­at­ing energy, heav­ily de­pen­dent on burn­ing pol­lut­ing fos­sil fu­els, is con­tribut­ing to cli­mate change and harm­ing the planet. In short, things have to change, and dra­mat­i­cally.

How­ever, it is not a time to lose hope: the range of so­lu­tions to these chal­lenges is vast, and many in­no­va­tors and pioneers are de­vel­op­ing new ways to do things. Too few peo­ple re­al­ize it, but tap­ping geo­ther­mal re­sources could trans­form ac­cess to energy for many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. In East Africa, Kenya is in­vest­ing in geo­ther­mal energy and hopes to get 27 per cent of its elec­tric­ity from this source by 2031. The World Bank be­lieves that about 40 coun­tries world­wide have geo­ther­mal re­sources that could meet a very sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of their na­tional elec­tric­ity de­mand.

Is it pos­si­ble to earn an in­come in this green econ­omy, how­ever? Based on the ev­i­dence in the sto­ries pre­sented in this is­sue, the an­swer is yes. Tak­ing ur­ban waste as an ex­am­ple, it is forecast that global mu­nic­i­pal solid waste (MSW) re­cy­cling needs to in­crease 3.5-fold (UNEP) as the world con­tin­ues to ur­ban­ize. This could ei­ther be a dis­as­ter for liv­ing con­di­tions and the planet or an op­por­tu­nity to change views to­wards waste, see­ing it as a wealth-cre­at­ing op­por­tu­nity. Many are seiz­ing this waste “prob­lem” and cre­at­ing so­lu­tions.

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