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World Environment Day 2014

5th June 2014 Posted by

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “small island developing states” or SIDS, nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising seas. How might this apply to the UK, and what relevance might this have for the waste and resource management sector?

Whether we talk about small islands, developing economies or developed nations, we share a common underlying problem: a growth model that is resource-hungry and consumption-driven and which is now recognized as being unsustainable. Small islands might have their particular vulnerabilities, but the UK is not immune to the challenge of climate change. It is noteworthy that while we are by no means a SIDS, the UK is the first country to have passed a Climate Change Act, with binding national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change.

The way in which we consume nature’s resources and manage our discards has a direct bearing on climate change, particularly at a time when per capita consumption and consequently our draw on the earth’s resources are steadily increasing.

At SITA UK, we have adopted the principle of a circular economy as our strategic business development goal. In a circular economy the role of waste management is to collect, treat and return secondary resources and recovered energy back into the cycle of production and consumption.

Recycling and energy recovery from waste not only help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also conserves virgin raw materials. Defra has estimated that recycling in the UK is already saving around 10-15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year (measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalents), equivalent to taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

A circular economy redefines the relationship between man and nature, inventing new economic models based on new values that are more respectful of our environment. World Environment Day is an annual reminder of the challenge we face in building a better and more sustainable future that balances economic growth and prosperity with environmental wellbeing. Our sector is at the forefront of this transformation.

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