Topic 4 Importance of preventing waste production

There are two cultural approaches (ways of thinking) about how to prevent waste production. According to the first approach, the production of waste is well prevented (or reduced) by producing goods in a more ecological way and using recyclable materials. Produced waste can be treated to give back materials and energy. Furthermore, the whole industry should apply the so-called “Triple Bottom Line”, which means that each company should produce aiming at three objectives at the same time:

1) economic prosperity

2) environmental quality

3) social equity

The second approach is called “Theory of New Growth”, and considers as a priority those actions that are aimed at modifying our way of thinking. According to this vision (New Growth Theory), even those processes, that are more sustainable than traditional ones from an environmental point of view, could lead to bad and paradoxical consequences. So, the focal point is another: we should profoundly change our conception of what “growth” means.

For example, the production of new cars, consuming lower quantities of fuel and generating lower emissions, could lead to a contradiction.  In fact, a technological evolution, leading to more environmentally friendly cars, could push owners to increase the use of such cars. And, finally, to produce more pollution. Should this happen, it would be paradoxical!

What do you think about this way of thinking?

Could we really have more pollution due to an increased use of more environment friendly goods?

So, an evolution of production systems (in accordance with the principles of the triple bottom line) must be combined with an intensive citizen education policy, so that citizens themselves can play a positive role as more responsible and “really aware” consumers. This is the only way to obtain significant environmental benefits.

After watching the video,

Write down a personal plan about how you could apply the “6 R’s” approach in your personal life.

List ways in which you can take both personal and professional responsibility and identify opportunities for preventing waste production and better manage the waste you produce.