The United Nations have marked the 30th of March as the annual Day of Zero Waste. The purpose of this day? Address the global waste problem and encourage stakeholders on all levels – from youth to parliaments and from companies to academia – to clear their schedules for the day and work on solutions. In this article, you will learn about the waste problem and we share some quick tips to start eliminating waste.
The world is facing a waste problem of unprecedented proportions. According to the World Bank, global waste is projected to reach 3.40 billion tons by 2050, a 70% increase from 2016. In 2019 alone, the world generated 2.01 billion tons of municipal solid waste, and only 32% of that was recycled or composted. The rest ended up in landfills or was incinerated, contributing to air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil degradation. The magnitude of worldwide waste disposal is staggering, and it is clear that urgent action is needed to address this pressing issue.
We do already have ambitious goals in the shape of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goals 11 and 12. SDG 11 focuses on creating sustainable cities and communities, and reducing waste is a key aspect of achieving this goal. By reducing waste and promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12), we can create healthier, more livable cities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve natural resources. Eliminating waste also has economic benefits, as it can create new job opportunities in the recycling and composting industries. By taking action to reduce waste, we can contribute to a more sustainable future for all.
Now that it is clear we have to take action, we would like to share some quick tips to fight the waste problem. These apply on any level, from consumer to large companies:
Use reusable bags, containers, and bottles.
Bring your own bags when you go shopping, use refillable containers for your snacks and lunches, and carry a reusable water on the go.
Say no to single-use plastics.
Avoid plastic straws, utensils, and other single-use items. Instead, opt for reusable alternatives like metal or bamboo straws, silverware, and cloth napkins.
Reduce food waste.
Plan your meals ahead of time, shop for groceries mindfully, and compost food scraps. Composting not only reduces waste but also creates nutrient-rich soil for your plants.
Choose sustainable products.
Look for products made from recycled materials, buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste, and support companies that prioritize sustainability.
Adopting zero waste practices not only benefits the environment, but also has economic and health benefits. We believe meaningful transitions can only work if they are based on new, circular business cases. In other words: it has to pay off to make sustainable choices. And it can!
By reducing waste, we reduce our impact on the environment. Landfills and incinerators pollute the air and water and contribute to climate change. By reducing waste, we conserve natural resources and preserve habitats for wildlife.
Reducing waste also economic benefits. It saves money on disposal fees and creates jobs in the recycling and composting industries. Using sustainable products and practices, we can also reduce our energy and resource consumption.
Zero waste practices benefit our health. By reducing our exposure to harmful chemicals and pollutants, we can improve our indoor and outdoor air quality. Insights into wasteful products also help us make healthy choices.
The circular economy is an economic model that aims to minimize waste and promote sustainable resource use. It emphasizes the importance of keeping materials in use for as long as possible, through recycling, reuse, and refurbishment. The circular economy model differs from the traditional linear model, where materials are extracted, used, and then discarded. Zero waste is a key component of the circular economy, as it promotes the elimination of waste altogether. By adopting circular economy principles and promoting zero waste practices, we can create a more sustainable and resilient economy, reduce our impact on the environment, and ensure a better future for generations to come.
Digital product passports are one of the solutions to promote the circular economy and reduce waste. Cirmar’s C_passport® provides a transparent record of a product’s material use and impact, from its design to its end-of-life. By creating a digital product passport, companies can gain a better understanding of the environmental impact of their products, identify opportunities for improvement, and design products that are more durable and easier to recycle. This information can also help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions, and encourage them to choose products that have a lower environmental footprint. By using digital product passports, companies can contribute to a more circular economy, where products are designed with sustainability in mind, and waste is minimized through careful resource use and product design.