It does not matter to which part of the political spectrum one adheres, what religion they have or how much time they spend outdoors when considering the question of waste management. It is most likely quite clear to everyone that they prefer to breathe fresh air and live in a place that is clean and free from pollution.
Unfortunately, there are circles where it has become almost taboo to speak of matters concerning the environment in the same way people have become wary of talking about religion or the rights of the unborn child. The fear of being challenged or ridiculed nowadays might stop many from starting important discussions. Still, if we are to live in relative understanding and focus on progress instead of regression, then the 21st century needs to be one of reason and common sense.
The European Commission’s website notes that “in Europe, we currently use 16 tonnes of material per person per year, of which 6 tonnes become waste. Although the management of that waste continues to improve in the EU, the European economy currently still loses a significant amount of potential 'secondary raw materials' such as metals, wood, glass, paper, plastics […]. In 2010, total waste production in the EU amounted to 2,5 billion tons.” Also, it would seem that “just in terms of household waste alone, each person in Europe is currently producing, on average, half of tonne of such waste. Only 40 % of it is reused or recycled and in some countries, more than 80% still goes to landfill.”
Most of us have probably heard about the issues with plastics and other types of waste. They are filling the oceans and ending up in fish and in our drinking water. We are, I am sure, aware of how fast our own garbage bags fill up at home from only a few people. How much faster will landfills overflow from billions of people’s garbage? Truly it is a waste of resources and a tragic case of contamination. And, surely, we do not need a repeat of London’s 1858 Great Stink in order to move things along technologically and find a viable solution.
The world has been fighting the waste battle for a long time. Much of what we call progress depends on our ability to either make use or dispose of waste, as the sign of a developed society is a clean and healthy living environment. As such, no matter one’s worldview or background, it must be clear to them that a salubrious ecosystem is a priority.
Of course, even in this discussion, we must keep in mind that environmental protection should be seen as a necessity, and not be turned into an ideology, an agenda to be pushed for political reasons, or a religion. We must be careful to keep the balance scale steady in every discourse and with every policy
For now, Europe is doing a better job than other regions at trying to keep up with its own trash. The waste to energy initiative is a good place to start on the path toward a better future. However, a greater sense of urgency is needed when dealing with the matter. There must be concentrated efforts to fix the problem. And it is probably safe to say that such strives will come from the free market, the collaboration of international scientists and innovators, people with a vested interest in the process or those simply passionate about a clean environment. Seeing as how the future of our society’s health and prosperity rests on finding solutions to vital issues such as this one, it is paramount that we work together and not let ourselves get lost in petty distractions.