Towards Zero Waste Community
What is waste?
Waste is something that is rejected as useless. These are items that are either so badly designed that they can either be repaired, reused, re-sourced through composting, or safely recycled.
Wastes are also created when we dump various items together in a manner that they cannot be easily separated or in a manner that renders them useless even if they are separated. Much of our resources end up as wastes primarily because we do not separate them before discarding.
Example: When we throw in paper and toxic wastes with bio wastes the entire garbage becomes toxic. The bio wastes then cannot be composted because the compost would be poisonous. The paper cannot be recycled because it becomes wet and dirty for anyone to pick it up and send it to a recycler. Accumulated garbage along roadsides, in rivers and canals, and overflowing dustbins posing serious health and environmental hazards are common sights.
Types of wastes:
What is waste management?
The conventional methods of handling garbage is termed waste management. That is this approach sees all garbage generated as useless and then goes on to manage these wastes by devising technologies to collect it, transport it, bury it, dump it or burn it. Landfills, Incineration or burning of wastes, centralized composting and recycling are some of the ways of solid waste management.
How is garbage handled today?
Almost every society in the world struggles with the issue of efficient and safe waste management practices. Everywhere, the most common practice of waste processing has always been uncontrolled open dumping, a method which requires no investment and has very little operational costs. However such uncontrolled dumping leads to unhealthy impacts on the surrounding environment not to mention the ugly scenes of garbage heaps it creates.
Another processing technique used in cities is incineration or for that matter in the rural areas and often in cities is open burning. Incinerating or open burnings are by far the most hazardous among the many inefficient waste management practices. Valuable resources get needlessly burnt and do not provide any long-term solution to the solid waste crises that still remains. In fact incineration further worsens the crisis because resources like glass for instance, that may be reused are also burnt with all the other tonnage of waste. Such reusable resources just ended up as non-recoverable resources.
Landfills are those assigned places or holes in the ground where wastes are dumped. Low lying areas are usually selected for this purpose.
b) Open Burning or incineration
Conventional waste disposal relies significantly on burning garbage, in the open (common in India) or in machines. The machines are also used to burn the waste and these are known as incinerators.
Recycling is a process wherein previously discarded garbage is made into a new product.
Zero Waste Management is the solution.
The whole concept and approach to waste problems should be changed. The amount of waste is very little if we are careful and sensible enough when we discard things as useless. Here comes the concept of ¡§Zero Waste¡¨. It is a new approach that seeks to maximise recycling and minimise waste, and ensures that products are made and purchased to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace.
Opting for zero waste means we forgo the entire concept of ¡§waste.¡¨ There is nothing as waste. Zero waste works from this belief. Resources are used for creation of a product or commodity usually designed for time-bound use, after which the product is rendered useless and ends up as waste while the process of production also generates waste. Zero waste provides facilities like resource recovery, composting, and waste to wealth ideas to tackle the waste generated.
As world population and consumption seems to only escalate, all the one way systems of extracting resources, changing them into packages or products and then burying or burning them appear far from sustainable. The Zero Waste approach considers waste as the visible face of inefficiency. An efficient system should have sustainable movement of materials. This assumes that material would be consumed, material would change form, and finally material would become discards.
The pile of trash we produce throws up a range of raw materials for new products, exciting financial opportunities, and better jobs. Zero waste rechannelises the flow of resources through our societies with marked and substantial environmental, social and economic benefits. Walking the zero waste way has other added gains too. Considerable saving on water, energy, resources and landfill space makes it an optimum environmental and sustainable option.
And Zero Waste addresses increasing wastage of natural resources and depletion of environment through job creation and civic participation. Thus the zero waste approach shows how this far reaching environmental progress will be achieved by just impacting change at one single point: where and how we empty our bins.
How do we achieve zero waste goals?
The most obvious problems of today¡¦s waste management are:
Public co-operation and participation is the key to achieving zero waste goals. Zero waste management presupposes the involvement of the local community in its day-to-day processes. Hence forming people based organisation is the key here.
It is important to take environmental, health and economic issues to the common people and help them understand these issues better. Identify the local garbage related problems or issues that people from all walks of life could best relate to and use it to bring the people together.
It is also important that people see this from a positive angle, like creation of employment opportunities in a society. The households should be ready to bear a monthly cost which is minimal today where a child spends Rs. 10-20 on unhealthy foods in the form of fizzy drinks etc.
Need of Street beautifier
The name street beautifier is given to those people who are employed by the community to do door-to-door collection of wastes. This name also gives dignity to the job. In a not so large Tibetan community, one street beautifier will work for 4 hours every morning. He or She should be paid a monthly salary of Rs. 1500 which is subscribed by the community. He/she should also be able to augment his/her income by about Rs. 200 in a month by selling the recyclables wastes that are segregated from the garbage. The street beautifier should be equipped with one compartmentalised tricycle.
This new system requires that waste is not disposed onto the streets, or even into the public dustbins, and hence ensures
Two key components of zero waste management are
Segregation of waste at source is important. Each household should be educated on the need and method to separate wastes into organic and inorganic and to dispose them in the compartmentalised tricycle bin. Thus, the uncontaminated paper and other inorganic waste like plastic, metal and glass could be recovered and recycled.
The organic waste could be converted into manure through composting. However this needs a small plot of land to develop community composting, which can be discussed with the local Tibetan authority. The manure produced could be used for household vegetable garden.
However, in the process of segregation of waste, a third category of considerable amount of mixed waste will be found. This can not be composted nor recycled and should be transported to the dumping sites.
Things to consider before going ahead with the new system