These companies will also need to invest in waste management, recovery and recycling systems in communities where they operate, he added. The UN chief urged countries, cities and local governments to develop and scale-up modern waste management systems, as well as policies that encourage re-using and recycling plastic bottles, ageing electronics and other items.
‘Trashing our only home’
The head of the UN’s urban development agency, UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, urged countries to be “waste wise”, including through finding value in reusing items before discarding them. “We are trashing our only home,” he said. “We’re spewing a torrent of waste and pollution that is affecting our environment, our economies, and our health.”
War on waste
Humanity currently generates more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, which includes plastics, textiles, rotting food, discarded electronics, and debris from mining and construction sites. The high-level meeting was held to raise awareness of the urgent need to transition to a “green” and circular economy that promotes sustainable production and consumption patterns. The move could save governments billions and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. “We need to urgently address the inefficiencies and inequalities in our agrifood systems to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable,” he said.
As the Secretary-General bluntly put it, we are basically “treating our planet like a garbage dump”, warning that the messy mountain will reach four billion tonnes by 2050.
The First Lady also highlighted the need for justice and equality when it comes to protecting the planet and combatting climate change.