In rural areas, ‘precycling’ (choosing not to acquire items that would need recycling or generate waste) and recycling for practical use enables entrepreneurship. Companies can also develop take-back schemes for products such as batteries and other electrical goods, or pay local people to return pre-sorted waste to them.
The broader challenge is to develop regional waste management strategies and to embed local processes within these to ensure sustainability.
This involves educating, training and raising awareness among local communities, small-scale businesses and entrepreneurs to develop and run local waste management initiatives that create livelihoods. It requires us to ensure that policy makers are equipped with the know-how to devise effective, long-term regional waste strategies Lastly, it requires us to create markets and infrastructure for products such as compost, energy and recycled material. Understanding the connections between waste, livelihoods and the environment, and integrating local and regional needs can make a big difference in tackling this pressing challenge.
Viewed from this holistic perspective, waste management begins to look less like an insurmountable problem and more like an opportunity for people and nature to benefit in equal measure.
What a waste it would be to miss that opportunity!