Waste trade: the trading stock strategy

Waste Trade v.s Raw Material

Can we consider waste trade the best solution for waste recycling an for a sustainable future?

Waste elimination, reduction, and recycling programs are undermined by nations who manage waste by exporting it to other countries. It is particularly alarming to note that some nations who are promoting Zero Waste goals, are also exporting their waste to other countries. The main target for a correct waste recycling is the Raw Material use reduction.

That’s mean that:

  1. We have to reduce waste production
  2. We have to save energy while we’re recycling waste

In other words I can find a lot of good waste trading web site where I can buy scraps and sell scraps and secondary material:

  1. http://www.wastexchange.co.uk
  2. http://www.wastexchange.eu (Alternative address)
  3. http://www.borsarifiuti.com (Italian and European Market)

I will save a lot of money using these web sites because I will find new customers and suppliers using Internet. I knew people that earn a lot of money using wastexchange.eu portal. But if I decide to send waste to or buy waste from far countries I’m not doing a good job for our future. I will need a lot of energy as oil to move this waste, I will use tracks and ships, I will make a lot of pollution. At the end I will recycle waste but I will make a lot of other waste. Much less progress has been made on prevention of waste throughout the product life cycle, rather than dealing with it at the post-consumer waste stage. The EU is however now addressing the consumption agenda. As part of this process, the EC published a Communication on integrated product policy in June 2003 (European Commission, 2003). This sets out proposed actions to stimulate improvement in the environmental performance of products throughout the whole life cycle. The EC also intends to work with industry, business, and consumers to identify those products with the greatest potential for environmental improvement. The imperative for a new resource management approach is being driven by a series of existing and forthcoming EC Directives that will impose new waste recycling and recovery targets on the UE and restrict the landfilling of biodegradable waste. These requirements, which impact on both the private and public sectors, generally ratchet up over time. They create an inescapable need for change over the period to 2010 and beyond.

The Wuppertal Institute (European Commission, 2003) has calculated that the following amounts of waste are generated in producing everyday products: Toothbrush = 1.5kg Mobile phone = 75kg Personal Computer = 1,500kg Consumption of natural resources and the associated impacts on the environment can therefore be reduced by re-using or recycling products at the end of their lives and by designing them in a more eco-efficient way. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, it is estimated (European Commission, 2003) that recycling one tonne of paper saves 900kg of CO² equivalent, over the production of virgin paper. The corresponding figures for PET plastic and aluminium are 1,800kg and 9,100kg respectively. Not withstanding the above, academic research suggests that in some cases the overall impacts from recycling certain products make this a less sustainable option than utilising virgin materials to manufacture them, or recovering the energy locked up in them once their useful life is complete. These arguments gain support because in most cases there is no evidence to suggest that the general supply of non-renewable mineral resources is threatened by the quantities we are consuming. Analyses of this type are highly dependent on where the ‘boundaries’ are drawn, and in some cases fail to take account of the wider societal implications of materials consumption.

The keys to success are correcting market failures in the process chain, putting in place a strategic planning framework for resource management, and coordinating the various key sectors. Lifestyle and behaviour change is also a very major issue and coordinated action at a strategic level to research, develop and test effective approaches is needed. Government has a key role in creating the overall climate for resource management and its support for the type of approach outlined in the paper is vital. Without its leadership on this societal change agenda we fear that there will be substantial inertia, delay and inability to meet EU targets across many sectors. Further, what will be put in place will be an inefficient system that will take another 10-20 years to correct at a huge cost. Thus, the way forward is to lift one’s sights to a wider horizon and to the best means to deliver what is required. Adoption of these concepts would require the establishment of an integrated performance and monitoring framework to set targets for the various sectors and track their achievement.


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