Providing practical encouragement for recycling in industrial processes and at the consumer level.
The generation of waste must be prevented, and an emphasis put on the generation of byproducts that become ecologically safe and sound resources. If waste is already in existence, it should be disposed of at its source in an ecologically safe and sound manner ensuring that nothing is being stored that could, if an accident occurred, cause harm to the environment. If no assurance can be given that waste will not cause potentially significant adverse effects, then the activity that is generating the wastes should cease, or permission to undertake the generative process should not be granted.
An efficient and comprehensive waste collection system is essential to protect the health of the population. The entire waste management plan for a city or region depends on the standard of the collection service. A modern, well managed waste collection and transport system not only protects the general public from disease but is also safe and hygienic for everyone working in, or in connection with, the system. This includes waste generators; collection, transport and treatment personnel; children and scavengers; and, indirectly, all inhabitants of the city. Waste collection costs can account for half or even more of the total waste management budget. Good management is therefore beneficial in economic terms, as well as in environmental and health terms.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing and strengthening national capacity to reuse and recycle an increasing proportion of waste, notably waste water and solid waste.
Curitiba, the capital of the state of Parana in Brazil, has a campaign called "the garbage that is not garbage" ("lixo que nao e lixo"), aimed at cleaning up low income areas of the city and at the same time financing social programs for the poor. The programme pays residents of 32 areas of the city to cull their trash for recyclables. Additional profits are then earmarked for community improvements in the areas from which the recovered materials have come.
European industry has struggled for years to stop recyclable materials being seen as "waste" because of the extra regulatory burdens that governments can apply to waste streams, as opposed to commodities which have to be traded freely within the EU.