With an unsustainable status quo inhibiting meaningful progress on waste management policies and regulations – such as the recognition of resource recovery processes as diversion solutions – policy makers and regulators must begin to look to a new paradigm that embraces the 3Rs while extracting maximum value from residual waste prior
While regulations, policies, and public education programmes have been adopted that rightly prioritize reduce, reuse and recycle, the new world of waste must embrace innovation by recognizing that treating waste as a resource represents meaningful diversion. Moreover, resource recovery creates an immense range of environmental and economic opportunities.
Now that government and industry seem to have come to an agreement on the need to reformulate products to prevent pollutants from ending up in the solid waste in the first place, so they must come together to amend the definition of waste to recognize its status as a renewable resource.
Only once garbage is seen for what it is – a resource – will waste policies begin to reflect the beneficial uses of materials otherwise lying unused in the ground. This new perspective will also facilitate an energy pricing regime that sets a progressive price for the renewable electricity generated from resource recovery technologies and processes, thereby making these facilities even more cost effective.
Jurisdictions that fail to take these reasonable steps face decades of ad hoc decisions that will only exacerbate the waste (landfill) crisis.
Our inability to move forward will leave future generations with the difficult choices that ours was unwilling or unable to make.