The need to shift waste management priority by preventing waste at its source has been put forward by an expert at an international forum held in Bahrain. The process of ‘cleaner production’ was the keynote address topic at the recently concluded Waste Management Forum 2011. “Waste that is not produced does not need to be transported, does not need to be treated, does not reduce resources, does not cause nuisance or hinder and does not negatively affect the environment,” according to UNESCO-IHE Associate Professor Maarten Siebel.
Prof Siebel, from The Netherlands, was addressing an audience of experts, students and visiting speakers at the country’s first of its kind forum. He said:
“Improving waste management is the priority of any government for economic, environmental, social, public health and quality of life reasons and ‘cleaner production’ leads to this. Cleaner production relates to preventing waste at its source and focuses on reducing the material needs.”
He added “It reduces the toxicity of the materials used, reuses a product – as much as possible – in its original form and questions whether a product is really needed. It also uses durability of products, which is increasing life time.”
He explained that Cleaner Production is the approach in which processes and activities are carried out such that the environmental impact thereof is as low as possible.
It includes issues of sustainability, process optimization, resource recovery, life cycle thinking, prevention etc.
Cleaner production can be initiated by intervening into the production as well as the consumption phases, pointed out Prof. Siebel.
At the consumption level, the options are source separation, composing and disposal, he said. “Whereas in the production level, it is improving material use efficiency and recycling,” he added.
Prof. Siebel pointed out that ‘cleaner production’ drives the change from ‘waste elimination’ into ‘material value’ thinking and focuses on improving material and energy efficiency.
“It grew from a tool to reduce industrial waste to a concept to reduce negative impacts in the environmental, social and economic arena, each of which is relevant for waste management,” he said.
Prof Siebel concluded by reminding that cleaner production is the key in transitioning from managing waste to managing resources.
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