The environment is an issue that will only continue to grow in importance in the future, and as a result countries all over the world are paying more and more attention to waste and recycling and looking into ways to optimise the eco-friendliness of waste management. Although there have been many breakthroughs in waste management in recent times, changes have not been without opposition, with businesses and governments alike often complaining that implementing new measures are inconvenient and inefficient.

However, that’s no longer the case — innovative ideas and technological breakthroughs mean that there are many exciting trends coming up for the waste management industry that will benefit society and the environment alike.

Circular thinking

The traditional (and current) model when it comes to waste disposal is a linear one, generally following the make-use-dispose progression. And even the word ‘waste’ itself is problematic, as it has negative connotations implying that the material is no longer useful.

Instead, waste experts are increasingly advocating for reprocessing of waste rather than burying or burning, as it can be reconstituted back into raw materials for manufacturers. This goes beyond just recycling — it involves redefining what waste actually is. Already, many companies are integrating circular thinking when it comes to production into their manufacturing processes, meaning that they design goods that with easy disassembly and recycling in mind after they are no longer needed. Rather than seeing waste as something simply to be disposed of, it will mean that waste will become seen as a valuable resource. Used resources will no longer be going in one end of the supply chain and out the other, keeping costs down for businesses — as well as the environment. We might soon see a future where effective waste management means no waste at all.

A powerful alternative

With endless debate surrounding energy sources, one source of energy that people are increasingly turning to is waste. The industry is still in its infancy, but is receiving increasing attention from governments around the world who are thinking ahead when it comes to what to do once non-renewable energy sources are depleted. Examples of waste-to-energy models already in existence include transforming carbon-rich waste into biofuel and turning lower grade oils like cooking oil into biodiesel. The birth of these industries means that there are potentially hundreds and thousands of jobs waiting to be created all around the world, all while providing a more sustainable way to power the economy well into the future.

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