Paper and cardboard are being replaced for wrapping and packaging by plastic and other materials which are almost indestructible and which, when discarded, damage the environment, unless collected for disposal. It is also increasingly acceptable to supply certain goods in non-returnable containers and to use non-returnable plastic cups, plates and cutlery for food. Any saving to the consumer in the initial cost of the product is likely to be offset by the higher indirect charges for waste disposal and by the damage to the environment.
Packaging is specifically designed to become instant waste. Packaging makes up more than a third of all household waste in Western countries. 42% of paper products used in the UK are used for packaging, and are thrown away.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.