Continuing our Leadership for Waste Prevention

Last week, BAN joined a dedicated group to lead the way into a future with less waste.

We supported waste prevention by participating in the United Nations Basel Convention’s Fourth Expert Working Group on environmentally sound management.

Waste prevention means not creating the waste in the first place, instead of trying to figure out how to safely dispose or recycle the stuff once we’re stuck with it. It’s thinking upstream, where the waste is created, rather than downstream, where the waste is disposed of.

This means designing only products we really need with end-of-life in mind – by asking, “how will this one day be trashed or recycled?” Usually, a question like this leads to making longer-lasting products and switching out toxic components for more benign ones, or even better, reusable or recyclable parts.

Although the Basel Convention focuses on regulating toxic waste trade, it actually affirms that the most effective way to protect people from toxic waste is to not create the waste in the first place. Makes sense.

Back in 2011, at the Basel Convention’s Conference of the Parties 10 (COP10), we helped delegates adopt the Cartagena Declaration on the Prevention, Minimization, and Recovery of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes. You can read the 4-page declaration here if you’re intrigued.

With the Cartagena Declaration, 183 countries committed to actively promoting and implementing effective strategies to prevent and minimize the production of waste. We believe that putting Cartagena into action is crucial because it prioritizes waste prevention over waste management – meaning there will be less waste to dispose of.

Last week’s meeting was just one step towards this goal. And the goal of a future without waste.

At the meeting, we joined delegates from around the world in developing a clear action plan for implementing the wonderful waste prevention and minimization principles in the Cartagena Declaration.

Already, BAN has co-chaired the creation of a short manual on prevention.

At the meeting, we discussed how to organize and create a larger guidance document – a “waste prevention 101” – complete with practical strategies for reducing waste, including case studies and resources. Everyone successfully agreed on a plan for pulling together strategies and tools to help all countries put waste prevention into practice.

It was an excellent meeting of the minds and we’re looking forward to pitching in even more as the plan and 101 guide takes shape.