Sustainability is certainly one of the most fundamental sectors for nation-building and national growth, and having sustainability policies, or a sustainable living standard or a sustainable approach has become imperative not only to take care of our greater society but also for the overall well-being and upbringing for ourselves. Hence, implementation, exhibition, and overall achievement are very necessary.
The fast-growing concept of 3R’s in waste management, namely Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, is important for the conservation of 3e’s, namely Energy, Economy, and Environment. Management of building waste through recycling and re-use has been found as an effective way of managing waste due to energy, economic and environmental efficiency. The sustainable approach of development demands minimizing and utilizing waste materials are primarily by re-cycling and re-using. Management of waste in building applications has to be viewed within a wider context of environmental, economic, and social regards and needs multidisciplinary expertise in planning, engineering, and material management. Decision-making and action plans need to involve an interdisciplinary team of urban planners, economists, architects, and engineers. And, there are thousands of companies that are committed to transitioning to a more sustainable way of doing business.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) explained in a statement that each and every medal crafted for the 2020 Games will be made from metal obtained from recycled consumer electronics. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are made of recycled electronic devices including discarded laptops and smartphones. These electronics have been collected over the last two years in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of e-waste recycling. It’s all due to the recycling initiative called the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project. This was a landmark recycling initiative that ensured that each medal has been molded entirely from metal extracted from recycled consumer electronics. A report says, “A total of 78,985 tons of discarded devices were collected,” and the TOGOC statement reads, “a haul which included approximately 6.21 million used mobile phones, along with digital cameras, handheld games, and laptops, all of which were then classified, dismantled and melted down by highly trained contractors.”This means that the goal of collecting 30.3kg of gold, 4,100kg of silver, and 2,700kg of bronze was reached by the time the collection cycle closed on March 31, 2019. And, thus the Athletes bringing laurels for their country in the Tokyo 2020are presented with medals composed of these recycled electronic devices.
In the case of Nike that wanted an innovative and sustainable business model leading a zero-waste future started the production of sustainable shoes which are made from plastic bottles, and other material scraps – contributing towards their vision of a future where old materials create new shoes. Beyond Nike’s sustainable products, they have internal waste management practices that change how employees work. At the World Headquarters, their “Reusable Dishware Program” prompted employees to stop buying and bringing disposable lunch containers to work. The ideas they use for sustainability at the workplace are the elimination of non-recyclable coffee cups, hosting ‘plastic-free lunch days’ where employees don’t bring plastic to work, institute a program that encourages reusable dishware to reduce waste. Thus, with this one green program, Nike reduced single-use containers (cups and bottles) by 16,000 pounds per quarter – and waste per employee was down by 11.5% at year-end.
Arora Fibres brought the technology to India after tying up with Korean company Mijung, which specialized in converting PET bottles into polyester yarn. His factory in the industrial belt of Silvassa in Dadra & Nagar Haveli has the capacity to process 18,000 tonnes of plastic a year and he plans to increase that to 48,000 tonnes by next year. Arora says the environmental benefit of recycling discarded plastic bottles is enormous. “By recycling 10 billion PET bottles, one can save one million square yards of landfill space and eliminate 0.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Waste management company Hanjer Biotech Energies realized that when it started India’s first green power plant in Jalgaon in Maharashtra in 2021 by using a by-product of solid waste as fuel. The biomass power plant had been closed because of the unavailability of husk rice, the raw material for fuelling the plant, which pushed Hanjer to turn to refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from municipal solid waste to generate seven megawatts (MW) of green power. It plans to take over four to five closed biomass power plants in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan to generate around 40 MW of green power and then set up a green power plant in Surat, Gujarat that runs completely on fuel from solid waste. Usually, 20 to 30 percent of supporting fuel such as coal or oil is used along with RDF to generate power. The plant in Surat will use green fuel derived from waste from three of the company’s solid waste processing facilities in the state to generate 15 MW of power. The plant has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will earn carbon credits for Hanjer. “Of the total 9,100 tonnes of waste which we process, around 18 to 20 percent is green RDF. With the amount of green RDF produced after recycling the waste, we can run six 15 MW power plants,” says Irfan Furniturewala, Founder and Chairman of Hanjer.
Cerebra Integrated Technologies, a Bangalore-based InfoTech company sees big business in the mountains of e-waste in Bangalore which produces 200,000 tonnes of e-waste per year. The company plans to make millions by extracting metals such as gold and platinum from the e-waste piling up in the city. A mobile phone, for example, is made up of a combination of rare earth and precious metals: it contains 250 mg of silver, 24 mg of gold, and nine mg of palladium while a laptop has 1,000 mg of silver, 220 mg of gold and 500 grams of copper. Cerebra hopes to wrap up its Rs 110-crore acquisition of Singapore-based Cimelia Resource Recovery this year, as part of its plans to make its mark in the global e-waste business.
Sustainability is no longer confined to an ambitious vision statement but people are trying to turn it into an innovative business model that influences daily life implications. This does hold greater promise of a better future for the people and the planet.
The Policy Times Weekly Editorial
Mr. Akram Hoque,
The Policy Times