With less than 30 days to go before the world’s first Global Recycling Day on 18 March 2018, the President of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), Ranjit Baxi, is calling upon world leaders to take bold steps to demonstrate to their countries, and the global population as a whole, how the items we both discard and recycle have the power to combat climate change and – potentially – change the world in which we live.
Global Recycling Day, masterminded by Mr Baxi and supported by Dr Katharina Kummer Peiry, former Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, and Philippe Chalmin, Professor of Economic History at Paris-Dauphine University, introduces the public to its newly coined concept of a ‘Seventh Resource’.
The pre-existing six global resources – Water, Air, Oil, Natural Gas, Coal and Minerals – represent the foundation of humanity’s very existence. All food, sustenance and belongings ultimately come from these six elements. Today, the human race can’t survive without them. However, in 2017, humanity used a year’s worth of these natural resources in just seven months.
There are seven commitments Global Recycling Day is encouraging world leaders to make and promote in their countries to change the global mindset and attitude towards recycling.
These seven commitments are:
- Implement and strengthen international agreements that promote recycling, and negotiate new ones as needed
- Support and promote the sustainable trade of recyclable materials to ecologically sound companies across the globe
- Educate, from the grassroots up, the public on the critical necessity of recycling
- Agree to a common language of recycling (same definitions, same messages)
- Make recycling a community issue, supporting initiatives which help households and businesses provide Seventh Resource materials for repurposing
- Work with the industry to encourage ‘design for recycling’ in the reuse of materials – reducing waste and integrating ‘end-of-life’ functionality at the design stage
- Support innovation, research and initiatives that foster better recycling practices
Discussing the urgency for a new recycling mindset, Ranjit Baxi, said: “The Earth’s resources are finite; they are rapidly running out and once gone, they’ll be gone forever. A global mindset shift is required and the support of the world’s leaders is essential to promote, educate and implement uptake of the Seventh Resource.
“By rethinking what we throw away, we have the power to change the world. Yet, the power of recyclables is still not sufficiently recognised at a global level – it’s time this changed, for all ours and the planet’s sakes,” Baxi added.
Recycling supplies 40% of the world’s raw material needs, reducing the drain on resources, of which humans have consumed more in the last 50 years than in all previous history. Recycling helps combat climate change, saving over 700 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is enough to offset the entire annual emissions of the aviation industry. Recycling boosts local employment around the world, employing approximately 1.6 million people worldwide in the recyclables processing industry. The annual contribution of the global recycling industry towards GDP is projected to exceed $400 billion in the next ten years, presenting a huge financial opportunity for countries that are committed to the Seventh Resource.
Momentum is building and the inaugural Global Recycling Day will further increase it by spreading awareness at concurrent events in six cities around the world, online through a global petition at Change.org and digitally through #GlobalRecyclingDay.
About Global Recycling Day
Global Recycling Day is an initiative of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).
BIR is the global federation of the recycling industry, representing the interests of the global industry.
One of BIR’s key objectives is to promote recycling globally – showcasing its benefits to industry, policy makers and the wider community.
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of BIR (indeed 18th March is its 70th birthday), a landmark year in which to create a day which recognised the vital role recycling and the industry plays in protecting the planet.
The first ever Global Recycling Day will unite people across the world, highlighting the need to conserve our six primary resources (water, air, coal, oil, natural gas and minerals) and celebrating the power of the newly termed “Seventh Resource”- the goods we recycle every day. The new initiative is the brain child of Ranjit Baxi, who announced his vision for a day dedicated to recycling at the inauguration of his Presidency at BIR’s 2015 Dubai Convention.
Global Recycling Day will be a day of action, aimed at building a global approach towards recycling, calling on world leaders, international businesses, communities and individuals to make seven clear commitments in their approach to recycling. Consumers are also being asked to ask themselves some key questions about recycling, to think of it in a new way.
Support for Global Recycling Day
Dr. Thérèse Coffey MP
“Everyone has a responsibility to think about the waste they produce and to recycle as much as they can. In the United Kingdom we have made great progress in increasing out recycling rate, which now stands at over 44%. Global Recycling Day is a reminder to us all of the difference we can make to protect our environment by disposing of our rubbish responsibly and is an opportunity to make sure that we are recycling all that we can. If in doubt you can check what you can recycle legally on recyclenow.com.”
Dr Therese Coffey MP is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom.
United Nations Assistant Secretary General Nikhil Seth
“I am pleased to celebrate and share in recognizing the importance of the world’s first Global Recycling Day, acknowledging recycling as crucial to realizing the sustainable development agenda. At the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), we recognize that changing attitudes and mindsets is crucial to achieving the Future We Want by 2030. Sustainable development and the targets included in the 2030 Agenda will only be achieved if we as individuals, communities and societies change our everyday habits, actions and consumption and production patterns.
“I strongly believe that Global Recycling Day will be instrumental in raising the awareness needed to amplify our recycling practices. Changing our mindsets so as to see recyclables and waste as valuable resources, will allow us to mend, repair and reuse materials that we otherwise would dispose of. By reconsidering what we throw away, we put the planet first and put the lives of people and future generations at the top of our priorities. Efficient recycling processes and practices can support the mitigation of dangerous climate change, generate jobs and local employment, help create sustainable cities and communities and can preserve our natural resources supporting our efforts towards more peaceful, just and sustainable societies.
“Whilst we often think of recycling as a local issue, Global Recycling Day helps us to elevate this important challenge to the global level, encouraging us to strengthen our commitments and develop new, dynamic and energetic partnerships across communities and cultures, and between governments and industries.
“Ultimately, our consumption and production patterns are in our hands, and our habits can impact and inspire our daily lives, and those of our children, families, friends and colleagues. In the spirit of the 2030 Agenda, I strongly encourage our partnership in stepping up our efforts to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; together we can make a difference and help realize our vision for a more sustainable future.”
Nikhil Seth is Executive Director at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Dr Yaakov Garb
“We must reduce consumption levels and design goods using less and more readily recyclable materials. But, realistically, the flow of waste will continue to be large, and the huge volume of products already in circulation will reach the end of its useful life. Global Recycling Day emphasizes the urgency of increasing the scale, quality and legitimacy of recycling: a critical environmental service to capture and process this material in a way that is equitable, efficient, and safe.”
Dr Garb is Lecturer at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Project Director at Towards Sustainable Management of E-Waste in Palestine, and based in Israel. You can read his full testimonial in the Global Recycling Day Manifesto.
Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FTSE FIEAust CPEng
“Recycling waste is the first step in closing resource loop. Currently what is seen as ‘waste’ can be reformed into a resource for green manufacturing, therefore creating environmental, social and economic value. This event is fantastic in raising awareness about what is the right thing to do in the face of the mounting waste challenge.”
Professor Sahajwalla is ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT@UNSW) at the University of South Wales in Australia. You can read more on her groundbreaking work here.
Source: Bureau of International Recycling