From 21 to 29 November is the European Week for Waste Reduction

Il tema della settimana, volta a promuovere la realizzazione di azioni di sensibilizzazione sulla corretta riduzione dei rifiuti, è la dematerializzazione.

Our planet has become a huge garbage bin. Over 5,000 billion plastic debris, for a total weight of 269,000 tonnes, float the world’s oceans. Industrialised countries’ landfills are still the most spread system for waste disposal. However, we produce radioactive waste we do not know how to dispose that will maintain high radioactivity levels for hundreds of years.


Fishermen prepare to fish, amidst floating garbage off the shore of Manila Bay during World Oceans Day in Paranaque, Metro Manila June 8, 2013. The U.N. officially designated June 8th each year as World Oceans Day, in December 2008.     REUTERS/Erik De Castro (PHILIPPINES - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX10G3C
Floating plastic waste off the Manila bay, nelle Philippines, Erik De Castro Reuters


We produce about 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste each year. In particular, waste of electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) has registered a significant increase. According to the UN, between 20 and 50 million tonnes of WEEE are produced every year, which are particularly hazardous and difficult to dispose.


If it’s true that, as French writer Georges Duhamel said, “each civilisation has the garbage it deserves”, we are doomed, unless a decisive trend reversal is carried out.


In order to highlight the importance of this problem, from 21 to 29 November the European Week for Waste Reduction (SERR) is celebrated. The event has been established by the European Commission under the LIFE+ Programme, aiming to raise the awareness of institutions and public opinion on strategies and waste prevention policies outlined by the EU.


Landfills are still widely used by industrialised countries


The 2015 theme is the “dematerialization”, which stands for using less or no material to deliver the same level of functionality to the user.  This principle allows producing less waste and, by consequence, effectively managing available resources, whilst reducing linked costs.


Practical examples of dematerialization are documents digitalisation; process and communication computerisation, which lead to a significant costs reduction; and sharing goods and services, such as car sharing.


car sharing
Car sharing is an example of dematerialization. It reduces costs and resources needed.


It is possible to reduce waste in numerous fields, only by following 3 basic principles: reduce, recycle, reuse. An example for companies is packaging reduction and materials optimisation. Dematerialization can be put into practice even in the domestic field.


We all have been piling up a great amount of more or less useless objects for years. In this case what suits best is decluttering, i.e. getting rid of old, worthless things. This process allows reorganising spaces and improving the quality of life, whilst avoiding creating new waste. Creative recycling can give new life to unused objects, and donating things could be useful to others.


Waste reduction is strictly linked to climate change. As a matter of fact, sustainable development is strongly related to energy and natural resources production and management.


Decluttering means getting rid of old, useless things


In 2014, 27 countries joined the European Week, by taking 12,000 actions aimed to reduce waste. It is possible to taking part in the EWWR, which aims to engage an increasing number of public authorities, associations, NGOs, businesses, and educational establishments, by subscribing within 6 November.

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