It is almost impossible to calculate the exact amount of waste generated at a global scale by producers and consumers (Dicken, 2011). In this article, it is stated that in 2007, Americans threw out about 570 billion pounds of municipal solid waste.
“We live in a time of throw-away consumerism- a time when companies are producing one time use DVDs so that consumers don’t have to deal with the “hassle” of renting and returning. The waste stream grows in volume and toxicity because corporations continue to profit by producing seemingly useless products, and they are not pressured to prioritize recycling, reuse, or substitute less toxic alternatives in their ingredients.”
Packaging is the largest and most rapidly growing category of solid waste. More than 30% of municipal solid waste is packaging, and 40% of that waste is plastic. The throwaway consumer society is the major source of MSW, the trend is clear that “as countries get richer, the organic share decreases whereas the paper and plastic ones increase” (Dicken, 2011).
The waste industry has become a big business, and governments work with the industry to find places to dispose waste. We are less creative and committed to developing new technologies to reduce waste and devoting resources to these programs.
This article is very interesting since it focuses on the move towards “Zero Waste”, which is reducing the volume and the toxicity of our garbage. Zero Waste is a bold approach to waste management that looks at both the both the front end (production and design) and the back end (reuse and reprocessing) of material flow, and solutions to connect the two. I think this is a big challenge to companies and governments, but definitely a goal we can all benefit from.
View article: http://www.toxicsaction.org/problems-and-solutions/waste