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Waste Management Outlook
In 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) projected that the Philippines will generate 16.6 million tons of waste in 2020. This figure did not yet take into account additional 280 tons daily of medical waste generated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Asia, with over 4.6 billion people and the largest waste generating continent, it is projected to generate 1.8 billion tons of waste in 2025.
Globally, 2.01 billion tons of waste is generated annually with at least 33% of that not managed in an environmentally safe manner. Rapid urbanization, population growth, and economic development will push global waste to increase by 70% over the next 30 years - to a staggering 3.40 billion tons of waste generated annually, according to the World Bank.
Waste management towards a sustainable future
It is hard to ignore waste; a most pervasive problem in our daily lives. It is even harder to look past the impacts of generating unnecessary waste - whether it is mounds of garbage piling onto dump sites and beaches, enormous amount of plastic that marine animals accidentally consume, pollution from industries and transportation in our air and water, or our daily, individual waste of plastic and take-out food containers, among many others.
Without changes to waste management, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. Without improvements, solid waste related emissions will likely increase to 2.6 billion tons of CO2-equivalent by 2050. Improving waste management will help cities become more resilient to extreme climate occurrences that cause flooding, damage infrastructure, and displace communities and their livelihoods.
Many actors are working and initiatives are being implemented to change our habits and behaviors. But the structure of our economy hinders us from truly seeing results. Our capitalist society is built on a linear economy based on the 'take-make-waste' model. This system, currently the dominant form of business and exchange, no longer works for businesses, people, and the environment because it is unsustainable - only took us almost 200 years to realize.
Now more than ever, we need an alternative to the traditional linear system that will allow us to treat the [waste] problem from the source instead of merely reacting. Circular economy, as it emerges, gains traction because it emphasizes sustainable development and aims to achieve economic, social, and environmental well-being through cleaner technology and business practices. It is about responsible production where businesses, which supply products and services, get the maximum life and value for the natural resources used to make them. It promotes a close-loop system in which raw materials, components, and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used, and waste is significantly reduced and eventually eliminated. A circular economy's ultimate goal is to design out waste.
A circular economy, therefore, has the potential to revolutionize the way we deal with waste and prevent further environmental degradation.
Embracing the circular economy-based waste management towards a sustainable future