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No-waste 2023, gov’t, firms urged

by Jericho Zafra

AS International Zero Waste Month begins, an environmental group has called on various groups, including the government and private companies to shift to zero waste management  to combat climate challenges.

In a statement Monday, advocates for environmental justice Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific said experts had noticed an improvement in the world’s air quality in April 2020. 

Citing the effects of lockdowns imposed by national governments worldwide, GAIA reported that daily global carbon emissions plummeted by 17 percent starting in April 2020 compared to the same month in 2019.

However, the environmental group said despite seeing a “slight improvement,” this effect is “temporary.”

“Temporary, because fossil fuel industries, including big plastic producers, have not really moved nor changed ways,” said GAIA.

“As a derivative of the fossil fuel industry, plastic has a large carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle.”

According to the group, these firms are taking advantage of the trash and plastic pollution crisis by pushing for band-aid solutions. As a result, “governments influenced by these corporations are swaying in the wrong direction,” it said.

For this year’s International Zero Waste Month, with the theme “Zero Waste for Zero Emission,” GAIA noted that zero waste creates opportunities to address more significant climate concerns through science-based and proven waste management solutions.

The group will also organize a series of events discussing zero waste as a primary tool to achieve zero emissions and how waste-to-energy incineration is a “false solution” to climate challenges.

Here is the rundown of activities for this year’s International Zero Waste Month Celebration:

  • Refuse Single-Use Day India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, January 6)
  • Zero Waste Olympiad (Philippines, January 6)
  • Zero Waste Film Fest – Digital (Online, January 9-31) 
  • Davao People’s Forum on Alternatives for WtE Incineration (Philippines, January 9)
  • Launch of Zero Waste Journalist Network – Asia Pacific (Online, January 19)
  • Brand Audit and Waste Assessment (Philippines, January 25)
  • Media Briefing (Philippines, January 24)
  • International Zero Waste Cities Conference (Philippines, January 26-27)
  • Launch of Zero Waste Cities Network (Philippines, January 26)
  • Organics Fair (Philippines, January 26)
  • Zero-Waste Film Fest (India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam)
  • Zero Waste Tour (Philippines, January 28)
  • Waste Worker Appreciation Day (Philippines, January 28)
  • Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) Talk (Indonesia)
  • Campaign for Sustainable Glove Purchasing for Health Facilities (Southeast Asia) 
  • Clean-up and Waste Assessment and Brand Audit (Cambodia, India) 
  • Freedom in A Cup Fundraising Launch (Philippines) 
  • Launch of Zero Waste Schools, Cafes, and Clinics (Nepal)
  • Zero Waste Consulting Services (Nepal)
  • Lobbying with stakeholders (Cambodia, India, Philippines)
  • Kuha sa Tingi 2nd phase (Philippines)   
  • Street Play (India) 
  • Zero Waste and Burn Not Mobile Exhibition (Philippines)
  • Zero Waste Creative Actions (India) 
  • Zero Waste Documentary and Film Showing (Indonesia, India, Nepal, Vietnam)
  • Zero Waste Fair (Indonesia, Philippines) 
  • Zero Waste Fora in Schools (Philippines)
  • Zero Waste Interactive Exhibit (Philippines) 
  • Zero Waste March (Philippines) 
  • Zero Waste Sessions and Street Plays in Colleges and Schools (India)
  • Zero Waste Store Promo (Hong Kong)
  • Zero Waste Writing Competition (Indonesia) 

In a separate report from Nature Briefing, scientists revealed during the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, that global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were expected to have increased by 1 percent in 2022, tallying a new record of 37.5 billion tonnes of emissions. 

The country with the fastest-growing emissions is India, where increased coal and oil use are responsible for an estimated 6 percent increase from 2021 levels, it said.

If the current pattern holds in just nine years, according to scientists, humans may release enough CO2 into the atmosphere to raise Earth’s temperature by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Zero Waste Month began in the Philippines in 2012 but was made an official month-long celebration in 2014 after President Benigno Aquino III enacted Proclamation No. 760, setting January yearly as Zero Waste Month.

According to the proclamation, zero waste is a cause that advocates for the design and management of products and processes to systematically prevent and eliminate the amount and toxicity of waste and materials, as well as to conserve and recover all resources rather than discarding or burning them without consideration.

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