Products of Change


Thu 30 Mar 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

International Day of Zero Waste | United Nations observes first global day of Zero Waste

The United Nations’ Environmental Programme has marked today (30 March) a brand-new one for the calendar – International Day of Zero Waste, a day which encourages everyone to prevent and minimize waste while driving a societal shift towards a circular economy. Jointly facilitated by the UNEP and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the day calls upon stakeholders – including governments, civil society, businesses, academia, communities, and more – to engage in activities that raise awareness of zero-waste initiatives. Around 45% of the more than 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste we generate annually is currently mismanaged. Without urgent action, this will rise to almost 4 billion tonnes by 2050. It’s the belief of the United Nations that by promoting zero-waste initiatives, advances on achieving the goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 11 – making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable - and SDG 12 – ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns – can be made. “The first International Day of Zero Waste is a real opportunity to build on local, regional, and national initiatives to foster environmentally sound waste management and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UNEP executive director, Inger Andersen. “We have the technical expertise and the drive to innovate. We have the knowledge – both scientific and indigenous knowledge – to find solutions to the waste crisis.” One team close the Products of Change community that has been taking strides to bring the subject of waste into the UK’s educational sector is the not-for-profit environmental action group, Wastebuster. With a mission to educate, inspire, and empower children to care for the environment Wastebuster has been providing schools and families with resources and tools that promote responsible production and consumption since 2006. Recent years have seen Wastebuster hit new levels of engagements through a roll-out of campaigns to bring school communities together to tackle waste. “I think it’s important children understand that when they throw something away, there is no such thing as ‘away’ – it is going to go somewhere,” says Katy Newnham, founder of Wastebuster. “But if children see waste as a potential resource, they are more likely to waste less. It is a way of seeing, thinking, living, and being that I think is aligned with appreciation, respect, and understanding that we must learn to live with the resources available to us as a species to survive. “This is why we promote the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, recover, and variations of it, to encourage children to start to think like this instinctively. This is what we tell them it is to be a ‘Wastebuster.’” The team at Wastebuster is now busy planning Water Week 2024, an initiative scheduled to run from 18th to 24th of May next year through which participants will be educated on the science of plastic waste and its link with water pollution, as well as tackling common misconceptions that can lead to plastic water pollution and the ways it can be prevented.