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Asia-Pacific faces looming waste crisis

Update: March, 19/2013 - 08:28
People in HCM City exchange waste for gift on the fifth annual Waste Recycling Day last April. It's expected to raise awareness of the three Rs – reducing, reusing and recycling waste. VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — Delegations from more than 20 Asia-Pacific countries came together in Ha Noi yesterday to discuss practical policies for waste - an ever growing challenge in the region.

Addressing the opening day of the three-day forum yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, said the gathering was an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences and best practices of 3R policy formulation and implementation. He said he was sure Viet Nam would acquire valuable lessons from it.

Prasad Modak, president of the Mumbai-based Environmental Management Centre, said Asia had to deal with many problems and should create a regulatory framework.

More waste generated per capita (the continent produces about 700 million tonnes of garbage annually), emerging waste streams such as electronic waste and a variety of associated health risks are just a few of the problems he mentioned at the plenary session.

Municipal solid waste continues to be the largest waste stream and is still growing due to population growth, urbanisation and economic growth.

Modak said that the best approach would be to view waste disposal as a business opportunity, rather than an obligation.

A waste dump in the northern province of Bac Ninh. Delegates from more than 20 Asia-Pacific countries gathered in Ha Noi yesterday to discuss ways to deal with waste in the region, a mounting problem. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Lam

He and other speakers advocated the 3R approach, which called for reduction (that is, minimising waste) followed by reusing and recycling.

Ideally, this would establish a global circular economy in which the use of brand-new material was minimised and less waste was produced.

Doctor Heinz Schandl, from Australia's national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said that Asia also had to take into account the booming middle-income consumer class and its extremely high level of consumption.

"Lifestyles and consumption patterns of millions of consumers in Asia's developing countries are now converging with those of OECD countries," he said, suggesting that curbing consumption would also help reduce waste.

The countries participating in the forum will likely adopt the "Ha Noi 3R Declaration – Sustainable 3R Goals for Asia for 2013-23," which aims to provide a basis for Asian countries to voluntarily develop and implement 3R policies and programmes.

The basic idea of a 3R approach is a shift away from a mass consumption society to one that is based on a life-cycle, sound material flow society.

The 3Rs usually refers to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The 3Rs regional forum is an initiative launched by Japan in 2004. — VNS



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