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5 Best Waste Management Practices And Innovations Across The Globe

Specific innovations in USA, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Columbia are gearing towards sustainable waste management. USA has an eco-friendly robotic machine in the Baltimore River, which is powered by the sun and river currents, and it cleans debris and waste from the river and deposits it in a dumpster barrage built into the machine

It must be noted that even though the following piece enlists commendable innovations in waste management, all these are very contextual and locality specific. An isomorphic mimicry of these practices may not be successful, unless adapted with indigenous knowledge.

1. Deposit-refund scheme for cans and drinking bottles in EU and UK is a commendable scheme for waste management, as it incentivizes the consumer to return the bottle or can for which he/she is compensated, and it reduces pressure on landfills, increasing the life cycle of the product. The deposit refund scheme if applied to all products will greatly increase the rate of recycling, and it is easily replicable across different localities and regions, as the mechanism remains the same.  

2. Kamikatsu in Japan is one of the role models when it comes to waste management, as they proclaim themselves to be a ‘zero-waste’ region by 2020. With recycling being the core of most of their operations, the residents segregate their waste into 34 categories. 80% of the waste is recycled in the region, while only 20% goes to landfills. There are no garbage trucks, so each resident has to wash, sort, and bring their trash to the recycling centre—which residents admit took some time getting used to. A worker oversees the sorting process at the centre, making sure trash goes into the right bins. Some used items are taken to businesses to be resold or repurposed into clothing, toys, and accessories.

3. Sweden has set a benchmark when it comes to waste management and recycling. About 99% of the waste in Sweden is recycled and only 1% goes to landfills. In fact, their landfills are so empty that apparently, Sweden has to import waste from other countries. Of the 4.4 million tons of household waste produced by the nation every year, 2.2 million are converted into energy by a process called waste-to-energy (WTE). Before this process starts, home and business owners filter and separate the waste into hazardous wastes and recyclable material, which are then sent to different waste-management systems, like incinerators and recycling, and a small amount to landfills. The furnaces in WTE plants are loaded with garbage, and then burnt to generate steam which is further used to spin turbines in order to produce electricity. The waste that is recycled is essentially used as a resource, converted into district heating, electricity, biogas, and biofertilizer.

4. The coastal town of Alappuzha, famous for its backwaters and intricate network of canals and lagoons, has found a spot in a United Nations (UN) report of five global cities that have successfully tackled solid waste management. Alappuzha, which has a population of 0.174 million and produces 58 tonnes of solid waste a day, has been implementing a project called Nirmala Bhavanam Nirmala Nagaram (Clean Homes Clean City) since November 2012. The city has adopted decentralised waste management and is pushing for 100 per cent segregation in all the 23 wards of the city. Moreover, as many as 80 per cent households now have biogas plants and decentralised composting system.

5. Specific innovations in USA, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Columbia are gearing towards sustainable waste management. USA has an eco-friendly robotic machine in the Baltimore River, which is powered by the sun and river currents, and it cleans debris and waste from the river and deposits it in a dumpster barrage built into the machine. Germany has a company which produces biodegradable leaf plates to curb plastic pollution. There are SmartBelly bins in Australia are ‘smart bins’ which segregate waste at the collection point and then compost and treat the waste as well, and connect individual bins to garbage collectors, streamlining the waste management process efficiently. Rosenbaum, a design studio in Brazil is encouraging people to use plastic waste to decorate and beautify their houses. Columbia has ECOBOT-vending machines, which give rewards such as movie tickets and vouchers and monetary compensation for every time someone deposits a plastic bottle or bottle caps. There is a need for diffusion of such technology to all places, given that these can be easily adaptable to localized scenarios.


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