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Rethinking the world’s waste problems

Getting people to view waste as a valuable resource might not be an easy sell but it is key to building a truly sustainable planet. A radical rethink among individuals, companies and governments, isn’t just preferable, it is a must.

Take food and the additional pressures a growing global population is inevitably going to place on a planet already unable to feed all of its people. Around 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out and goes to waste every year. This is not sustainable.

And a new film premiering at Tribeca this month makes that clear. WASTED! the story of food waste shines a light on the devastation caused by food waste but more importantly it showcases the innovators finding the solutions which can help slowly turn this every day global disaster into a happy ending.

Wastewater is another prime polluter, wreaking havoc on ecosystems across the world.

“Over 80% of the world’s wastewater – and over 95% in some least developed countries – is released to the environment without treatment,” according to UNESCO.

What if it was viewed as valuable though? That is the argument being put forward in a new UN World Water report, Wastewater: The Untapped Resource.

“In a world where demands for freshwater are ever growing, and where limited water resources are increasingly stressed by over-abstraction, pollution and climate change, neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable in the context of a circular economy,” the report says. “As an essential component of a circular economy, wastewater use and by-product recovery can generate new business opportunities while helping finance improved sanitation services.”

Action is needed now across these and a host of other areas if the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN are to be met and life is to be sustained rather than wasted.


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