Adam Read On Waste & Wellbeing – bWW Essays
As part of our #WasteDialog around the 2016 Global Dialogue On Waste, we posed a question to visionaries and leaders in waste management. We will share their answers to how good waste management can improve well-being. Here’s the response from Adam Read, Ricardo-AEA’s Global Practice Director.
How will good waste management improve well-being?
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Good waste management is at the heart of social, community and ultimately personal well-being. Good resource management and recycling reduces our dependence on the environment and minimizes our pollution potential. In a circular economy this will create jobs and security as we recover value, materials and energy from our waste in ways that are safe and appropriate to the context in which we live. Our habits and practices will be passed on to our children and they will shepherd our planet through the good and bad times, ensuring we do not reap more than we can sow.
Having worked with informal pickers in Africa, Central America, Asia and Europe I see the value that can be derived from our wasteful societies. Harnessing this entrepreneurial spirit with better institutional arrangements, cost recovery and awareness can really have significant local benefits. It can help train children, improve community health and build the esteem of families.
If the developed world could embrace some of the passion for material value shown in the developing economies, and combine that with a fuller appreciation of why consumption is not always good for us, then we might start to turn the corner. We could have a world where local resources are harvested and reused locally, where closed loops are the norm and where people think twice before upgrading their gadgets to suit the latest fashion. We have some ways to go, but personal, community and social well-being is a powerful language for demonstrating the benefits of more sustainable waste management.
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