S02E09: Urban Waste Management

A growing middle class has meant more disposable income; more spending has generated more waste, and that waste is more complex. This is increasingly recognised as unsustainable as natural resources are diminishing and ‘old’ infrastructure such as landfills are falling out of favour. At the same time, the general public is understanding - and experiencing - climate change more. Cities must tackle waste in a way that is socially, environmentally and economically viable. So what next?Firstly, “No man is an island,” as Mie Johnson states. Municipalities can collaborate with - and incentivise - civil society and the private sector, and share learnings. And no two cities are the same. Swati Singh Sambyal showcases Ambikapur and much-vaunted Indore. Their diametrically opposite approaches, one multi-stakeholder, including women’s self-help groups,  and the other capital-intensive and centralised, have both been successful - but it has taken years. Then, as Andrea Basilova stated, consumers need not be passive. If enough of us boycott a product, the manufacturer will not make it.Secondly, data provides transparency for all stakeholders, not least producers, who can track and trace waste streams. Andrea has created a successful business on the back of this.Thirdly, new policies such as extended producer responsibility will require manufacturers to invest in the ‘downstream’ system. Recycling is not a silver bullet, even if countries are introducing targets. Companies may well look to designing waste out as far as possible, tackling the ‘upstream’, as Swati calls it. Deposit return schemes have been re-introduced.  It is now quite standard for city residents to pay in proportion to their waste. More recently, another incentive, paying according to how well you sort your waste, is taking off. Other levers include landfill taxes.Transitions take time, but by combining policy, technology and education, and showcasing best practices, we can move the needle on circular and regenerative practices. We can also demonstrate the investment case and turn a cost centre into a revenue- and resource-generating one.

Om Podcasten

The world needs to shift to a new paradigm, but what is stopping us and how can we do this? In 2015, 193 world leaders signed up to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable world by the year 2030. We have the technology, we have the people and if we have the money but can we make this target? Romi Sumaria and Aarti Shah explore some of the biggest challenges that we face to meet these goals, share the real stories of what is being done on the ground and speak to inspiring individuals and organisations that are leading the way in delivering impact.