19 November 2006

A Call for a Zero Waste Society

Prof Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, along with the left-centre think-tank, the IPPR, are both calling for a "zero waste" society.

Taxes would be applied to disposable products such as razors and cameras. People would be encouraged buy more lasting products. The study argues that consumers should learn to repair and reuse items rather than throwing them out, as well as recycling more. The think-tank report wants manufacturers to be compelled to design durable products that can be reused rather than throwaway plastic that will need regular, and profitable, replacement. More controversially, it recommends that councils should charge householders for taking away non-recyclable rubbish: Britons throw away more than 300 million tonnes of rubbish every year and recycle less than half of it.

'We have become an increasingly throwaway society, reliant on cheap, disposable and hard to recycle goods,' said Nick Pearce, the think-tank's director. 'Business needs to take greater responsibility for the whole life of a product.'
Everything we buy is, ultimately, made from materials which can be repaired, reused or recycled. In those cases where they cannot, products should be redesigned to fit into such a system.

As of 2001, 40% of local authorities in New Zealand have signed up to zero-waste policies. New Zealand is predicting the creation of 40,000 jobs over 10 years through converting local transfer stations to resource recovery centers, and through the resulting proliferation of reuse and recycling businesses.

Read up on this "citizen's agenda" for zero waste policies.

We need to have widespread distribution of these kinds of lists (of appliance repair, shoe repair, computer donations, lighting repair, places to exchange used furniture, etc).

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