Imagining Zero-Waste

By Sujata Koirala
Apr 18, 2022

Social media can easily persuade people to purchase anything by shoving them into their news feed. Making these purchases, we overlook the trash generated in packaging on the purchase of food, beverages, or any other commodity. We are engrossed and busy with work and family but we fail to recognize the environmental impact of our modern lifestyle.

While most people may not think much about waste, there are some of us who think about it. In fact, there are companies and organizations that have made it their business to figure out how to generate less, how to dispose of less, and how to define when we achieve some variation of a ‘Zero Waste’ goal.

Zero Waste refers to the conservation of resources through responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without incineration or discharges to land, water, or air which threaten environment and human health.

Zero waste may sound simple but it is a complex phenomenon. The idea is being developed and implemented in various sectors including waste management and treatment, mining, manufacturing, and urban development. The zero-waste concept has been embraced by policymakers because it stimulates sustainable production and consumption, optimum recycling and resource recovery.

Nepal has taken the goal to reach Net Zero Emissions by 2045 as part of their commitment towards a global goal. For that, many components need to be overviewed accordingly. Introducing the concept of zero waste can leverage the goal a little further. However, transforming high consuming big cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhara might be difficult in its first phase.

But it is essential to understand human behavior in the consumption of resources and generation of waste. ‘Zero Waste City’ design strategies are significantly influenced by lifestyle, values, and personal behavior. Raising awareness and educational programs to trigger behavior change are becoming increasingly important.

The sheer volume of waste is one of the prime concerns in zero waste cities. Therefore, introducing mechanisms to avoid, minimize or prevent the creation of waste is one of the key challenges for all urban cities. In zero waste city design, material flow of the city should be designed or controlled in a balanced way, considering sustainable design and product stewardship concepts.

Technology applied in waste management systems needs to be adaptable to the context of future volume reduction and resource recovery from waste. Policies and regulations have significantly influenced the development of waste management systems and cities should continue to use them.

Zero waste seems difficult but it is possible but it all starts with us. If we can imagine it, its attainable not impossible.

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