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A growing middle class has meant more disposable income; more spending has generated more waste, and that waste is more complex. This is increasingly recognised as unsustainable as natural resources are diminishing and ‘old’ infrastructure such as landfills are falling out of favour. At the same time, the general public is understanding - and experiencing - climate change more. Cities must tackle waste in a way that is socially, environmentally and economically viable. So what next?
Firstly, “No man is an island,” as Mie Johnson states. Municipalities can collaborate with - and incentivise - civil society and the private sector, and share learnings. And no two cities are the same. Swati Singh Sambyal showcases Ambikapur and much-vaunted Indore. Their diametrically opposite approaches, one multi-stakeholder, including women’s self-help groups, and the other capital-intensive and centralised, have both been successful - but it has taken years. Then, as Andrea Basilova stated, consumers need not be passive. If enough of us boycott a product, the manufacturer will not make it.
Secondly, data provides transparency for all stakeholders, not least producers, who can track and trace waste streams. Andrea has created a successful business on the back of this.
Thirdly, new policies such as extended producer responsibility will require manufacturers to invest in the ‘downstream’ system. Recycling is not a silver bullet, even if countries are introducing targets. Companies may well look to designing waste out as far as possible, tackling the ‘upstream’, as Swati calls it. Deposit return schemes have been re-introduced. It is now quite standard for city residents to pay in proportion to their waste. More recently, another incentive, paying according to how well you sort your waste, is taking off. Other levers include landfill taxes.
Transitions take time, but by combining policy, technology and education, and showcasing best practices, we can move the needle on circular and regenerative practices. We can also demonstrate the investment case and turn a cost centre into a revenue- and resource-generating one.
More on Sensoneo: Unique smart waste management solution delivering 60% reduction on CO2 emissions caused by the waste collection process, WOF EXPO interview with Andrea Basilova, Interview with Sensoneo Co-Founder Andrea Basilova, Startup Germany Tour, Forbes interview on waste as a business opportunity
SWATI SINGH SAMBYAL
Waste Management Specialist
UN Habitat India
Swati Singh Sambyal is a renowned researcher on resource management. Swati has worked in India and across the Global South on development issues concerning integrated waste and resource management. She has been a part of the National Geographic forum on the circular economy. Swati is trained at Swedish EPA, Stockholm and Norwegian EPA, Oslo on environmental governance and planning. She is presently a waste management specialist with UNHABITAT looking after projects in India and the Global South on plastics and landfill remediation. She was head of a municipal solid waste programme at New Delhi-based environment policy and advocacy organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), for 9 years.
Co-Founder and Head of Communications, Sensoneo
Andrea is co-founder of Sensoneo, a technology company that provides cities and businesses with data-driven waste management that leads to efficiency, transparency, and lower environmental footprint. Sensoneo has attracted cities and businesses around the world and the solution is installed in over 60 countries worldwide. The company has won several reputable competitions (Innovation World Cup Series 2019 in the category Smart Territories, Proptech Start-up Europe 2019, Deloitte Fast50 2021 Impact Stars), a member of Circular Slovakia, and a member of Proptech for Good. Thanks to Sensoneo, the innovations the company has brought to the market, and her experience with deploying projects in various countries, Andrea is perfectly oriented in diverse areas tackling waste management challenges such as digitization, sustainability, and smart cities.
Senior Project Manager
State of Green
Focusing on circular economy, clean air and waste management, Mie Johnson is Senior Project Manager at the Danish public-private partnership State of Green. Prior to this, Mie worked as Coordinator for communications and sustainability at the Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU). She holds a master’s degree in International Business Communication & Language from Copenhagen Business
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