Monday, 20 November 2017

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Waste management is raised to the global agenda

ISWA UN Photo Vantiy Valle

10.9.2015 – A three day conference wrapped up yesterday in Antwerp where the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) World Congress sought to raise global waste management to the global agenda. Held as the formal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is set in New York and momentum turns to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (Cop 21 Paris), the meeting is quite timely.

The 21st century is earmarked for its continuous population growth and the worldwide waste totals are enormous, with two billion tons of municipal solid waste per year and seven to ten billion tons of urban solid waste, which includes households, commerce and industry. In 2012, the developed countries were responsible for 50% of the total worldwide waste. However, the lessons learned will have to be transferred to the developing countries as their waste per capita rises as their economies develop. This trend is exhausting the already scarce raw materials and will have a significant impact on public health if the wants of today are not balanced with the needs of tomorrow.

GWMO1What are the needs of tomorrow? This is what the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and ISWA tackle in their newly launched Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO), presented at the World Congress by Tim Kasten, the Deputy Director of UNEP's Division of Environmental Policy Implementation.

According to Kasten, the 2030-agenda has to focus on a collective solution for global climate change, beginning with waste management as a starting point for sustainable development. Furthermore, Kasten stated that waste has to be considered a public health issue. The GWMO's research findings state that the cost of inaction to society exceeds the financial cost of proper waste management, which is quite important in the era of budget cuts. Controlling open dumping or burning of waste not only has a public health priority, but also an environmental priority as the released gasses pollute.

Therefore, enhancing and strengthening the political will to put waste in the top 3 of the global agenda is firmly pronounced in the GWMO. Kasten declared that waste management requires a coordinated approach: global availability and reliability of waste and resource data, because if we cannot measure it, we cannot manage it.” The aim of this World Congress and the GWMO is to centralize the importance of thinking out of the box and to reduce, reuse and recycle waste (3 R's) for the quality of a circular economy. As the Flemish chemical processing company DNCP puts it: It is a waste to waste your waste.”

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Related Links:

•   The International Solid Waste Association
•   United Nations Environmental Program
•   Global Waste Management Outlook

Photo Credits:

•   World Congress Event: Photo United Nations/Vanity Velle
•   Second: Global Waste Management Outlook

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