COMMENTARY

Sustainable Material and Waste Management

Seahorse installation from scrapped metal

By Biji-biji Initiative & Anisa Pinatih

Most people are constantly in need of more goods and services these days. Having just about everything a few taps away has made our consumption patterns become unhealthy. This also means more detrimental effects on the wellbeing of our planet. But ceasing to consume is impossible, so a more feasible solution is to reimagine consumption in a way that is beneficial to the people as well as to the planet.

Also read: Waste Management and Minimisation in Southeast Asia: An Overview

MATERIAL FLOW AND SUSTAINABILITY
The threat to the environment is not only from the exploitation of the non-renewable materials but also from the overuse of the renewable resources such as plastic, glass, cotton, wood, latex, charcoal and so on. The extraction, transportation and utilisation of these materials contribute to the increase of carbon emissions.

Advancement in technology and communication has allowed the world’s economy to grow increasingly connected so more materials are being consumed and transported over longer distances. Data released by UN Environment Programme in 2013 shows that material consumption is painstakingly high in Asia Pacific, compared to any other part of the world; and this is predicted to remain high in the next decade. The report[1] claims that Asia Pacific is the highest contributor of waste, at 23 per cent of the global disposal per 2019.

Substitution and recycling are not sufficient and will only delay ultimate depletion. Complete recycling of waste is almost impossible, especially for developing countries in Asia. Circular economy framework is an ideal solution but this is difficult to put into practice. Effective resource management will reduce raw material extraction so waste and energy consumption will also be minimised.


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ABOUT BIJI-BIJI INITIATIVE
Biji-biji Initiative is an impact-driven agency that aims to create a mindset change and behavioural shift towards sustainable living. We strive to inspire people into thinking and acting sustainably, collaboratively and constructively. Our journey began in 2013 when a group of four visionaries set out to change the sustainability scene in Malaysia through progressive ideas while changing the perceptions on how people see issues of waste and sustainability. The word Biji means seeds and at Biji-biji Initiative, our mission is to plant seeds for a better tomorrow.

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