When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Green Or Gone

Latin America Joins Global Race To Score 'Zero Waste'

Activists in Colombia are working with public and private entities, offline and online, to reduce and recycle every ounce of solid waste produced.

Colombians separating the recyclables from non-recyclables at a Food Festival in Bogotá
Colombians separating the recyclables from non-recyclables at a Food Festival in Bogotá
Ingrith Gómez Morales

BOGOTÁ — The world has so far produced over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, of which 91% has not been recycled. Studies suggest our drinking water is already polluted with plastic particles. Meanwhile, people worldwide generate 1.9 billion tons of solid waste a year, 70% of which is sent to dumps, 19% recycled or recovered and 11%, turned into energy, according to Waste Atlas, an online map of global waste management.

These are alarming figures and recycling campaigns have taken off, largely led by European countries. At the same time, another initiative winning momentum worldwide, dubbed Zero Waste, seeks to curb waste production at its source and redefine trash as raw material, fit for reuse in economic production and ecological cycles. It is a reaction to the vast amounts of trash sent to landfills or burned every day, and to the environmental harm done by such a "traditional" approach.

Reduce, reuse, recycle...

Closer to home, data gathered by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Pan American Health Organization and the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, indicate that Latin Americans generate 0.63 kilograms of solid domestic waste per person each day.

Colombia is joining the Zero Waste initiative with its own project and NGO, Basura Cero Colombia, which director Sandra Pinzón says is driven by a shift toward a more responsible consumer culture. First launched a decade ago, it works today with public and private enterprises to bring about the implementation of the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle — in all their operations.

It's a holistic program on trash management that follows five strategic axes: Full project management, Zero Waste Alliance certification system (ICONTEC), environmental training and education programs, Eco events, and Eco marketing. It also works with several universities including Bogotá"s prestigious Pontifical Javeriana University, "to exchange know-how, and implement academic and research projects in the circular economy and integrated solid waste management (ISWM)," says its head of projects, Diego Romero.

Poverty stricken neighborhood lined with waste in Bogotá, Colombia — Photo: C64-92/Flickr

These collaborative pacts have now brought more than 20,000 Colombians into programs that are gradually creating a more sustainable society. The initiative has managed to cut solid waste production by 12,600 kilograms, mostly through the elimination of non-reusable items from household purchases. This followed models of circular economy and industrial ecology that allow bodies to implement reduction, reuse and waste exploitation strategies.

In the framework of such strategies, says Sandra Pinzón, official Zero Waste certification becomes a means by which organizations can analyze the life cycle of trash, reduce disposal risks and work on constant improvement through the four steps of "planning, doing, verification and action."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ