As the climate crisis deepens, urgent action on all fronts is required to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
The waste sector offers cities around the world key opportunities to take the necessary action which will dramatically reduce emissions, strengthen resilience, and provide substantial public health and economic benefits.
A recently released report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) found that the global waste sector produces a third of anthropogenic methane emissions, whose reduction will deliver rapid benefits through avoided warming.
In fact, good waste management practices can reduce emissions in other sectors, delivering more than 100% emissions reductions.
Simultaneously, this approach, known as zero waste, can reduce flooding, deter disease transmission, improve soil health, and deliver economic opportunities. This report explains how zero waste is an essential part of any climate plan.
In order to keep global warming below 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement, and prevent catastrophic climate change, GAIA is urging global leaders to take urgent and bold action on zero waste by:
● Incorporating zero waste goals and policies into climate mitigation and adaptation plans
● Prioritising food waste prevention and single-use plastic ban
● Instituting separate collection and treatment of organic waste
● Investing in waste management systems, recycling, and composting capacity
● Establishing institutional frameworks and financial incentives for zero waste, including regulations, educational and outreach programmes, and subsidies for recycling and composting
Janez Potočnik, co-chair of the International Resource Panel of the UN Environment Programme and former European Commissioner for the Environment, said: “This report demonstrates the huge importance of aligning our waste systems with climate goals. It shows how cities are already working to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from waste while building climate resilience and creating livelihoods.
“It highlights the absolute necessity of reducing root sources of waste through changing our production and consumption patterns, using all the tools at our disposal to achieve the deep emissions reductions we need.”