Waste Minimisation – Role of Public, Private and Community Sector

waste-minisationWhen it comes to waste minimisation and moving material up the waste hierarchy you will find partisan advocates for the roles of the public, private and community sectors. Each will tell you the reasons why their sector’s approach is the best. The private sector will extol their virtues as the only ones capable of efficiently and effectively doing the job.  They rightly note that they are the providers on the front lines who actually recover the vast majority of material, that the private sector approach drives innovation and efficiency, and that if waste minimisation is to be sustainable this must include economic sustainability.

The community sector on the other hand will make a strong case to say that their model, because it commonly encompasses social, environmental, and economic outcomes, is able to leverage value from recovered materials to dig deeper into the waste stream, to optimise recovered material quality, and to maximise employment and local economic benefit.

Before recycling and composting were economically viable prospects, community sector organisations led the way, developing many of the techniques now widely used. They remain the leaders in marginal areas such as furniture reuse, running projects that deliver environmental outcomes while providing wider community benefits such as rehabilitation and training for marginalised groups.

Finally, in the public sector corner, advocates will point out that the profit-driven private sector will only ever recover those materials that are able to generate positive revenues, and so cannot maximise waste minimisation, while social outcomes are strictly a secondary consideration. The community sector, on the other hand, while encompassing non-monetary values and capable of effective action on a local scale, is not set up to deliver these benefits on a larger scale and can sometimes struggle to deliver consistent, professional levels of service.

The public sector can point to government’s role in legislating to promote consistent environmental and social outcomes, while councils are major providers and commissioners of recycling services and instrumental in shaping public perceptions around waste issues. The public sector often leads in directing activity towards non-monetary but otherwise valuable outcomes, and provides the framework and funding for equity of service levels.

So who is right? Each sector has good arguments in its favour, and each has its weaknesses. Does one approach carry the day?  Should we just mix and match according to our personal taste or based on what is convenient?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Maybe the issue is not “which approach is better?” but instead “how might the different models help us get to where we ultimately want to go?”

Smells Like Waste Minimisation

So where do we want to go?  What is the waste minimisation end game?

If we think about things from a zero waste perspective, the ideal is that we should move from linear processes of extraction, processing, consumption and disposal, to cyclical processes that mimic nature and that re-integrate materials into economic and natural systems.  This is the nirvana – where nothing is ‘thrown away’ because everything has a further beneficial use.  In other words what we have is not waste but resources.  Or to put it another way – everything has value.

Assuming that we continue to operate in an essentially capitalist system, value has to be translated into economic terms.  Imagine if every single thing that we now discard was worth enough money to motivate its recovery.  We would throw nothing away: why would we if there was money to be made from it?

So in a zero waste nirvana the private sector and the community sector would take care of recovery almost automatically.  There might evolve a community and private sector mix, with each occupying different niches depending on desired local outcomes. There would be no need for the public sector to intervene to promote waste minimisation.  All it would need to do would be to set some ground rules and monitor the industry to ensure a level playing field and appropriate health and safety.

Sectoral Healing

Returning to reality, we are a long way from that zero waste nirvana.  As things stand, a bunch of materials do have economic value, and are widely recycled. Another layer of materials have marginal value, and the remainder have no value in practical terms (or even a negative value in the case of hazardous wastes).

The suggested shift in perspective is most obvious in terms of how we think about the role of the public sector. To bring us closer to our goal, the public sector needs to intervene in the market to support those materials of marginal value so that they join the group that has genuine value.

Kerbside (or curbside) collection of certain materials, such as glass and lower value plastics, is an example of an activity that is in effect subsidised by public money. These subsidies enable the private sector to achieve environmental outcomes that we deem sufficiently worthwhile to fund.

However, the public sector should not just be plugging a gap in the market (as it largely does now), but be working towards largely doing itself out of a job. If we are to progress towards a cyclical economy, the role of the public sector should not be to subsidise marginal materials in perpetuity, but to progressively move them from marginal to genuinely economic, so that they no longer require support.

At the same time new materials would be progressively targeted and brought through so that the range and quantity requiring disposal constantly shrinks.  This suggests a vital role for the public sector that encompasses research, funding for development of new technologies and processes, and setting appropriate policy and price structures (such as through taxes, levies, or product stewardship programmes).

Similarly, the community sector, because it is able to ‘dig deeper’ into the waste stream, has a unique and ongoing role to play in terms of being able to more effectively address those materials of marginal value as they begin to move up the hierarchy.  The community sector’s unique value is its ability to work at the frontiers.

Meanwhile, the private sector’s resources and creativity will be needed to enable efficient systems to be developed to manage collection, processing and recycling of materials that reach the threshold of economic viability – and to create new, more sustainable products that fit more readily into a waste minimising world.

In the end, then, perhaps the answer is to stop seeing the three models as being in competition. Instead, we should consciously be utilising the unique characteristics of each so that we can evolve our practices towards a future that is more functional and capable of delivering the circular economy that must eventuate if we are to sustain ourselves on this planet.

Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be viewed at this link

Wonderful Tips to Avoid Heat Loss from Your Home

Heat loss is a big problem to homeowners. It comes with various issues including a skyrocketing energy bill. Most of the heat is lost through the windows and doors. Luckily, there are some ideas that can help you improve insulation and lessen loss of heat. When choosing fixtures, timber doors and windows are a wonderful option for their amazing insulating properties. Additionally, here are 5 tips to avoid heat loss from your home.

Install curtains

Thick close fitting curtains and blinds will keep warm air inside your home. The curtains and blinds hit the colder window class and cools it down plus lessening draught. Consider installing a pelmet above your curtain rail to enhance thermal insulation more.

Blinds offer tremendous versatility and boost insulation in your home. These leave a smaller gap between slats where less heat escapes from. you can open the curtain and blinds to let the sun enter and close them in the night to lessen heat loss. Installing curtains is a wonderful idea to enhance the security of your home. These windows have hook shaped locks embedded in the window frame leaving them untouchable.

Choose an appropriate glass type

There are various kinds of glass offering different thermal efficiency. Luckily, modern double glazed windows have low emissivity coating. This means they can reflect heat back into your home. Therefore, they are a wonderful option because they offer better thermal insulation compared to plain glass with no coating.

Opt for double glazed windows

You should consider double glazed timber windows and doors in Melbourne to prevent heat loss. Single glazed options lose about 20 percent of the heat in your home. double glazed options have a gap between the panes of glass full of gas such as argon, xenon, and krypton, which is a poor conductor of heat. This helps to lessen chances of heat loss. A reliable company should offer slimmer glazing units for a contemporary and elegant appeal.

Use warm edge spacer bars

A perimeter spacer bar sits between 2 panes of glass holding them apart in double glazing. Spacer bars have desiccant for absorbing moisture that might be in the unit. It is made of aluminium for its high conductivity and ability to lose heat fast.

Keeping your home well insulated is a wonderful option.

Warm space bars made of pre desiccated structural foam help enhance the temperature in the internal edge of glass by up to 65 percent. This is better than the use of aluminium spacers. Additionally, warm spacer bars reduce noise by about 10 percent to keep your home quieter and warmer.

Consider draught proofing

These windows allow the breeze to move at acute angles along your house. Therefore, with curtains windows, you will catch side breezes inside your house.It is a wonderful idea to consider modern windows and door but you have to realise that there is a chance of your home getting draughty with time. Consider installing draught proofing to enjoy more energy efficiency, sound proofing, and no chance of draught in your interior.

Mind your style

Choosing the right colour for curtains windows is a personal decision. Therefore, always ensure to choose a colour that effortlessly reflects your style. Luckily, wooden windows offer a wide range of colour options. It is very important to consider the design you are seeking to achieve. Crisp white is a wonderful option if you want a simple but timeless appeal on your home

Final thought

There are various consideration when choosing the best windows for your home. Keeping your home well insulated is a wonderful option. It comes with a variety of benefits including enhancing the appeal of your home, lowering energy bills, increasing comfort in your interior, and making your home more attractive to prospective buyers. A wonderful trick is to opt for double glazed timber windows that help lessen heat loss.