The problem of the month of July without plastic

The problems we face will not be solved by giving up plastic straws. Yes, every little action makes a difference; but these actions must be one piece of a bigger puzzle in which every council, government, business and community is building towards better overall waste management.

Every year, people from all over the world take part in July without plastic — a global movement that aims to help millions of people become part of the solution to plastic pollution. The campaign aims to create a platform for people to share ideas for minimizing plastic pollution; adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly habits and motivate people to be part of the solution.

I fully support these goals; and in no way do I want to undermine the movement. Reducing the amount of plastic produced, used and ending up in landfills and in our environments is undoubtedly a huge step in the right direction. Ocean plastic is indeed a major environmental problem — according to the World Economic Forumwe will have more kilograms of plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050, if current trends continue.

But the problems we face will not be solved by giving up plastic straws. Yes, every little action makes a difference; and we should all do everything we can to reduce our impact and our carbon footprint. But these actions must be one piece of a bigger puzzle in which every council, government, business and community is building towards better overall waste management.

Poor waste management is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean and other natural environments. It is everyone’s responsibility to reduce waste wherever possible and find environmentally friendly ways to keep waste out of the environment. But, when it comes to waste management infrastructure, the impact of the general public is limited; therefore, the “big ones” must intervene.

We also cannot ignore the effect of other wastes and pollutants; banning plastic is not the panacea to the global waste crisis. Even the World Economic Forum has admitted that “in trying to solve the problem of plastic pollution, we may have created another problem: we are replacing plastic with materials that have a carbon footprint up to three times higher. than the plastics themselves, some of which are not. even biodegradable in real conditions. Life cycle assessments have shown that single-use plastic straw has nearly half the energy demand of polylactic acid (PLA) and paper straws.

But it’s not all misfortune and pollution

Waste avoidance and better waste management are now priorities for many councils and municipalities around the world; and modern technology enables smart waste management solutions that reduce costs, meet community expectations and help protect the environment.

However, overall, most waste collection systems around the world still use outdated and inefficient methods, resulting in collections that are either long overdue, unnecessary, or non-existent. Additionally, poorly planned routes create other inefficiencies and increase the carbon footprint. So what is the solution ?

Internet of Things (IoT) technology can solve these problems and many more by creating more efficient waste management processes. For example, an IoT sensor can tell waste management teams when a trash can actually needs to be emptied. But in this article, we talk specifically about what smarter waste management can do to keep plastics and other waste from ending up where it shouldn’t be:

  • Smart waste management means waste is properly sorted, handled and turned into recyclable assets. And with more and more plastic products designed to be recyclable, not doing so is a huge missed opportunity.

  • Using real-time data to avoid bin overflow reduces environmental pollution.

  • Various intelligent processes can be integrated into an overall building management system, allowing additional automated control, analysis and reporting. By analyzing waste disposal patterns, managers will be able to identify “common culprits” that generate high volumes of waste. The data can also be used to set waste reduction targets.

  • By demonstrating greater transparency, cities, businesses and buildings will be able to demonstrate their ESG commitments and waste management improvements, ideally gaining buy-in (and budgets) for further reduction efforts. garbage.

Plastic is one of man’s greatest inventions. But all the benefits of this material are compromised if plastic waste pollutes our environment. The real issues are human behavior and inefficient waste management and recycling systems. If these issues are not addressed, all of our other efforts will have less impact. You can have a 100% recyclable product, but if it’s not properly separated and moved to the right place, it ends up in a landfill or somewhere it shouldn’t be.

I work for a technology company. So, to me, using smart waste management solutions – when accessible and achievable – makes the most sense. But, I’m still not going to use plastic straws.

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