Zero waste victory in Argentina

Feature story - 25 November, 2005
After a campaign by Greenpeace in Argentina, the city of Buenos Aires has decided to tackle the thousands of tonnes of rubbish dumped in city landfills everyday. The city council has voted to move towards a policy of zero waste to tackle its wasteful habits.

Action to clean up a public park in Buenos Aries to promote recycling and a city policy of Zero Waste. Later the city council voted to adopt a Zero Waste policy.

Until now Buenos Aries has taken a common approach to waste, repeatedthe world over. Collect it and throw it in a big hole in the ground.That's 4-5000 tonnes of waste every day. Out of sight out of mind. Butthis shortsighted approach ignores many looming problems and sensiblesolutions to the issue of waste. The amounts of waste are continuallygrowing while the space to dispose of it is shrinking. A throw awayculture generates more waste every year and there is no incentive forproducers and consumers to reduce the amount of waste.

Only a drastic approach can tackle the mountains of waste being generated. Zero Waste is a radical approach to this problem. What might at first seems impossible is actually already being successfully implemented.

Zero Waste is a new concept being pioneered by leading corporations,municipalities, and now provincial and national governments. It entailsre-designing products and changing the way waste is handled, soproducts last longer, materials are recycled, or, in the case oforganics, composted. Waste can be designed out of the product cycle.Throwing away valuable material that can be reused is truly wasteful.

The immediate imperatives behind the drive for Zero Waste areenvironmental. There is a new awareness of the dangers to human healthof waste landfills and incinerators. Landfills are major producers ofgreenhouse gases like methane, and they pollute water tables.Incinerators produce greenhouse gases, and are a source of pollutantslike heavy metals. Zero Waste strikes at the cause of this pollution.

Buenos Aries joins cities like Canberra and Toronto, states like California and even countries like New Zealandin signing up to Zero Waste policies. Buenos Aries will start by reducethe use of landfills, increase recycling, ban incineration and formallyemploy people currently sorting waste in the street in to organisedcollection schemes.

Buenos Aries is the first Latin American city to adopt Zero Waste andwill hopefully act as a role model for other cities and countries inthe region facing similar waste problems. We'll be there to ensure thecity sticks to its commitments in the future.

More info:

La Legislatura trata hoy la Ley de Basura Cero

Basura Cero

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