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12 june 2019

Zero waste: a vital goal for developing countries

Over two billion metric tons of solid waste is generated each year worldwide. This amount is set to increase by 70% by 2050, according to the World Bank. It is expected to almost double in countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, and even triple in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than ever, the goal of “zero waste” is crucial for these regions.

To mark Earth Day on April 22, 2019, experts from the International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development (IOCD) turned their attention to the concerning problem of waste in developing countries. 


They believe that we must rethink the idea of waste in light of a world with limited resources. Processing and reusing materials must become a sustainable practice in low- and middle-income countries, where waste management systems are often ineffective. 


“Waste is generally regarded as any material discarded because it is a by-product or a product that is no longer of use. It is associated with a lack of value […] this negative view has become inappropriate and a more positive approach is necessary to achieve sustainability,” highlight the members of the IOCD. 


Among the solutions developed to change the current model is the 3R Initiative (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), which looks to implement the circular economy. Created at the 2004 G8 summit, it has since been adopted by many countries, especially in Asia. 


While they praise this initiative, the IOCD’s experts believe that a real change in attitudes will only come about if all materials that have lost their original purpose are no longer viewed as waste but rather something left over to be reused —“post-trash,” as these experts call it.






© Richard B. Levine/Newscom/SIPA