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The Waste Problem

Esme van Herwijnen
By Esme van Herwijnen SRI Analyst October 2018
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The Waste Problem

From "Take, Make & Dispose" to a Circular Approach

From The World generates about 3.5 million tonnes of solid waste a day, a significant amount that is now becoming a major challenge. According to the World Bank, around 10 times more waste is produced now than a hundred years ago and this is expected to triple by the end of the century, exceeding 11 million tonnes per day. The scale of the problem is huge and plastic pollution in particular has become a serious threat to the oceans and marine biology. Whales washing up on beaches with their stomachs filled with plastic and turtles trapped in floating plastic debris are just some of the iconic images of our destructive relationship with waste. The waste we produce does not just affect marine animals; it also affects our soil, drinking water and human health.

In this Amity Insight we explore the issue of waste and how our economic model has led to the depletion of resources and an exponential increase in waste production. Instead, a different approach is needed and we will look at companies that are innovating and are part of the solution. Whilst every aspect of our economy generates waste, in this Insight we decided to have a close look at plastic waste and to examine three different sectors and their respective approaches to waste management: the textile industry, electronics and construction.

Minimising waste is not only the right thing to do; instead, it is a necessity as resources become scarce. Dealing with food waste, recycling textile fibres or recovering minerals from used electronics, all link back to the need to assess both the impact and dependency on natural capital. For investors, identifying those trends and understanding the risks of a linear model is likely to become even more important.

As always, we hope you enjoy reading this Insight, and welcome your feedback.

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