2018 has been quite the year in the exciting world of waste management. I jest but as a species we really are on track to drown in our own waste while eating that last Avo on toast washed down with a skinny flat white.
Thanks to the National Geographic, this was the year we all figured out plastic was not so great. It was also the year China said "You know what, Developed World? We are done taking all your "recyclables". You go figure it out". And in that moment we all realised that while we felt awesome separating our plastic from glass, without China paying for it, there is no recycling market. So in Melbourne and Sydney, container loads of our recyclables accumulate while the Government figures out what to do.
In addition to that, last week the EU announced the phasing out of landfills by 2030 and with that an expansion of what is known as "EPR" – Extended Product Responsibility. Basically, if you make it, you take it back after the consumer is done with it.
"A new component is the landfill reduction target. This sets minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility schemes for products such as packaging, for which a recycling target of 65% is foreseen by 2025 and of 70% by 2030. Across the waste spectrum, by 2030 the law obliges all EU countries to ensure that all waste suitable for recycling or other recovery, in particular in municipal waste, does not go to landfill. What’s more, manufacturers of products covered by the schemes must take responsibility for their proper disposal as well as contribute to the cost. The waste package also encourages the use of recyclable and reusable packaging".
The initial focus is packaging but the next obvious step is the product itself. And that my friends, in a world of plastic is going to demand some serious product redesign.
Related to this is a book I am slowly working my way through called Sapiens, a great, if not disturbing read about the history of us. What is astonishing is how we have managed to really cock up the earth in such a short period time.
200,000 years ago – First Sapiens rocked up
70,000 – Homo Sapiens figured out imagination
40,000 – First indigenous folks landed in Australia
12,000 – Agricultural Revolution
5,000 – Writing invented – yay us
Up until this point, the planet is looking pretty sweet. Then 200 years ago, we fire up the Industrial Revolution which was great if you were the boss but fairly sucky for everyone else.
After 200,000 years of living in tune with our planet, we take just 200 years to take us to the brink. It's remarkable. The most "intelligent" species could easily wipe itself out in short order.
And on that happy note, if you're looking for a fantastic dystopian drama, check out A Handmaid's Tale. Season Two is a cracker with the Colonies looking a lot like where we are heading.
OK, that post went kind of everywhere. More focus next time.