A message from Mal Williams, Zero Waste Wales on plastic and the Zero Waste mission. ILSR and Zero Waste Wales are two of the co-founders of the Zero Waste International Alliance.
Mal Williams, our friend and Zero Waste campaigner representing the Zero Waste International Trust, based in Cardiff, Wales, UK is updating William Shakespeare for modern times, “The fault is not in our stars, or China. But in ourselves.” In a response to a surge in alerts, opinions, videos against the ‘plastic plague’ and the way we simply discard this ubiquitous material, Mal wants us to keep our eyes on the prize: Recycling and zero waste worldwide is part of a change to a new world where we take great care of our habitat, not just one material as important as that material may be.
Mal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a recent statement on this subject from Mal:
I think it is really important that you members of the Zero Waste movement do not proliferate the myth that China has stopped buying plastics. China is still buying plastics and every other commodity.
What China has done –and it is absolutely great that it has done it – is to stop buying the crap that lazy waste/recycling collectors have been sending into the export market for years. China gave a fair warning that it would stop buying this illegally-exported, mixed material (waste by any other name) but the global waste industry and their partners in local government chose to ignore that warning. The industry should now pay the price of their wrong-headedness.
If they had listened to REAL RECYCLERS as long ago as the turn of the century they would have invested in collection systems that focused on collecting high quality materials. Instead they bullied their way into contracts that specified “business as usual” collection systems using, Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCV’s), Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and Mechanical-Biological Treatment (MBT) plants and incinerators because there is far more profit for them and their bankers in so doing.
Across the world the industry defended its collection methodology without a care for material quality. Now they’ve hit a brick wall and are blaming the Chinese -their biggest customer and the customer who, amongst others, enabled them to dump waste in the Asian arena at a cheaper cost than landfilling locally. Now, instead of going back to the drawing board these global polluters are trying to use China’s closedown to sell incineration.
“So-if we can’t landfill it and we can’t export it, we’ll have to burn it” is the pathetic clarion call from these criminals.
The truth is that two thirds of all waste is organic and should be returned to enhance our depleted soils and just about everything else is infinitely recyclable -or could be redesigned to be so – leaving a tiny fraction that probably should not exist at all in a sane world. Zero Waste means NOT CREATING WASTE -and it’s as simple as that. Humans create waste – humans can stop doing that.
The greatest resistance to recycling at the present time comes from these commercial profiteers. They even resist deposit return schemes because it might involve them accepting a slightly smaller profit margin. These guys have bought the politicians and only a massive upsurge of public interest will outweigh their lobbying. The plastics issue is just that – a big upsurge in opinion against plastics and the way we simply discard the material – but this prolific, thoughtless wasting applies to all materials and it occurs pre-consumer as well as post-consumer. So Zero Waste must focus on eliminating ALL waste -including waste of time and effort. It is the key to moving to a circular, sustainable economy/lifestyle.
Work in promoting Zero Waste is probably the most valuable work being carried out on this planet currently. Depleting soils and prolific consumerism is a deadly vortex as far as human survival is concerned. The UN-reported “50 harvests left” (due to soil depletion) and the increasingly rapid effects of global warming make waste a luxury we cannot afford and must eradicate.
But lets know who the opposition is and focus our venom there –it is definitely not China.
Zero Waste International Trust