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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Eight ways to overcome the waste pollution crisis

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First of 3 parts

Humanity generates between 2.1 billion and 2.3 billion tons of municipal solid waste a year.

When improperly managed, much of that refuse―from food and plastics to electronics and textiles―emits greenhouse gases or poisonous chemicals. This damages ecosystems, inflicts disease and threatens economic prosperity, disproportionately harming women and youth.

The world marked the International Day of Zero Waste on March 30.The observance, led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), highlights the importance of proper waste management. It also focuses on ways to rein in the conspicuous consumption that is feeding the waste crisis.

“Overconsumption is killing us. Humanity needs an intervention,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “On this Zero Waste Day, let’s pledge to end the destructive cycle of waste, once and for all.”

Here are eight ways to embrace a zero waste approach:

1. Food waste. Some 19 percent of food available to consumers is wasted annually despite 783 million people going hungry. Around 8 to 10 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of food that is ultimately squandered.

There are lots of ways to turn that tide. Municipalities can promote urban agriculture and use food waste in animal husbandry, farming, green-space maintenance and more. They can also fund food waste composting schemes, segregate food waste at source and ban food from dumpsites. Meanwhile, consumers can buy only what they need, embrace less appealing but perfectly edible fruits and vegetables, store food more wisely, use up leftovers, compost food scraps instead of throwing them away, and donate food before it goes bad, something made easier by a bevy of apps.

Recovery is already on the menu in some places. In Vallès Occidental, Spain, municipalities are redistributing surplus healthy food to the marginalized. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the non-profit organization No Hunger Food Bank works with the Adeta indigenous community to reduce post-harvest losses by recycling cassava peels into animal feed. UNEP News

(To be continued)

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