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We need worldwide education on waste

Mike Cates

With at least 790 million tonnes of waste already having been dumped this year worldwide, it is no surprise that there are many imminent threats to the environment that we must watch out for.

The mark we leave on this planet is established from the point we purchase goods. As you’ll know, the cycle does not end with the buying and consumption of these goods; it goes on once people dispose of them. In fact, this gives birth to your biggest problem at hand: waste.

Since the industrial revolution, planet Earth has absorbed hit after hit as businesses plundered it to manufacture goods only to use and dispose of these goods. More waste is produced than organisations can effectively dispose of. Businesses across the world are directly responsible for this catastrophe.

As mass production came into play after the 1930s, the strategy of “planned obsolescence” was in full swing. It means that businesses produce goods that that will quickly become obsolete.

For how long did you use your last mobile phone? Chances are that, when the newest phone hits the shelves, people are geared to upgrade. We need to educate the public on how manufacturing businesses are contributing to increased waste:

● Producing low-quality goods that will break quickly

● Encouraging consumers to buy newer products because they are better than the last

● Nurturing a culture of “use and toss” by promoting new alternatives

● Manufacturing low-quality products to maximise profits

● Continued buying saves money for businesses in the long-term.

It is in our hands to educate the general population that all these goods need to be disposed of at some point, thus creating more waste when the next “cool thing” comes along.

People living in most first world countries don’t even realise that more than one-third of the world’s food is wasted? That’s approximately $1 trillion worth of food not eaten.

We dump most of the food in landfills as this is one of the most cost effective and somewhat effective methods at our disposal. While the majority of food waste comes from homes, hotels and restaurants also make an incredibly negative impact.

Hotels and restaurants hosting buffets is one of the reasons so much waste is produced. More often than not, there is plenty of food leftover which is simply dumped.

There is also excess food production. Producing at maximum capacity allows businesses to reduce overall costs. Excess production is sold at reduced prices to beat expiration dates. However, imagine how much food lies in supermarket shelves only to expire.

Educating hotel and restaurant owners to better plan their food production can be a start to help resolve this problem.

Businesses are under pressure to cut costs and increase profits. While giving in to governmental pressure to dispose of their waste using best practices, they still cut corners when they can. After all, why spend millions to recycle when it is cheaper to use a landfill?

Hazardous waste, by nature, cannot be recycled or reused. The best that businesses can do is treat the waste to reduce its impact on the environment.

Construction, dry-cleaning, textile manufacturing, pesticide production and vehicle maintenance are some of the biggest producers of hazardous waste. While it is clear that global manufacturing and consumerist lifestyle is not going to change in the near future, the implementation of strict regulations can help mitigate the effects of the waste created by businesses. This starts with educating those in our industry who resort to the above and then allowing the knowledge to trickle to other sectors.

Mike Cates is a franchisor for Jim’s Skip Bins

 

 

 

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