Every day the world’s population generates 3.5 million tonnes of waste. Around the year 2100 this mountain of waste has increased by 300% to around 11 million tonnes. Please note that is the amount PER DAY. Although still far away, a problem of unprecedented magnitude. Nevertheless the leading magazine Nature is seriously warning us: it is the eleventh hour.
Scientists Daniel Hoornweg, Perinaz Bhada-Tata and Chris Kennedy are clear: ‘drastic measures’ are needed, because otherwise the growing population and urbanization will make the mountain of waste invincible. On the basis of socio-economic and environmental indicators, these scientists have developed several scenarios. Their conclusions are food for thought.
According to the academic trio the global population will consist of 9.5 billion people in 2100, of which 80 % will live in cities. CO2 emissions will have reduced and wealth a bit more evenly distributed, but there will not be any sustainable growth. Waste production in China will grow to 1.4 million tonnes per day in 2025. Then India will take the lead, until in 2050 sub-Saharan Africa takes over. In 2100, sub-Saharan Africa alone will generate 3.4 million tonnes of waste PER DAY. This almost equals the amount of waste the total global population produces today. The biggest challenge therefore lies with the developing countries.
The scientist’s are pleading for strict regulations to limit the production of waste, but also realize that this is not easy. Inspiring examples from San Francisco and Kawasaki in Japan are put forward. There the amount of waste halved, mostly because of regulation!
In addition to reducing the production waste also reusing waste is in the spotlight. The innovative company We Beat The Mountain has managed to bring designer products from recycled materials on the market. Using plastic and PET bottles covers for laptops, iPad’s and smartphones have been developed. Several Dutch multinationals (Ballast Nedam, Van Gansewinkel, Essent ) have already shown interest. Sustainable products in a beautiful jacket, that's the future!
Like it or not, the fact is, the mountain of waste will continue to grow in the coming decades. Although we can influence the growth rate, the volume of waste will increase. Recycling is a must, but really it is high time for a circular economy, where a maximum reuse of both products and raw materials is the focus. But what does that mean in practice? How else can we deal with our waste on a large scale? How do we ensure that ultimately waste does not exist any longer? In January 2014, we will elaborate on this subject, so keep an eye on this blog!
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