GREENING HOW WE MAKE AND BUY THINGS (CITYPRENEURS SEOUL THEME 3)
#WasteManagement #ClimateAction #ProtectOurSpecies #BeatPollution #sustainablecity #tech4good #protectourplanet #sustainableliving #plasticfree #responsibleproduction #responsibleconsumption #circulareconomy #socialinnovators
Theme at a Glance
Plastic bottles, straws and grocery bags that wash up on beaches or fly around the sides of highways are some of the most visible signs that plastic is taking a toll on the environment. Even most clothing nowadays contains synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon – essentially thin plastic fibers – that shed tiny bits of plastic and ultimately end up in oceans where they can be ingested by fish and other seafood we eat.
All of these are symptoms of a deeper problem: our reliance on cheap, single-use products that we discard once we are done using them.
Each year, the world generates over 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste, of which ¼ is generated in East Asia. In fact, a new UN report states that Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) is currently the worst performing SDG in the Asia-Pacific region, and the region has made little or no progress in Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11). Trends in South Korea reflect the report's findings: the country is one of the biggest consumers of disposable products worldwide, accounting for 132 kilograms of plastic products per person a year. But that’s not all; the country hit record high levels of air pollution this past March, and a 2017 NASA study found that over half of the air pollution in South Korea consists of local emissions from industrial sites, power plants and vehicles.
If we do not take action, rapid urbanization, population growth and economic development will push global waste generation to increase by 70 percent over the next 30 years. Poor waste management endangers ecosystems by polluting the air, water and soil. It also puts a strain on the health of urban dwellers and the environment (find out if you live within our planet's means here).
But our efforts cannot end at recycling; given the current levels of global consumption and our overreliance on plastic, waste and pollution are currently the inevitable outcomes of product lifecycles. To save our planet, we need to fundamentally change our consumption and production practices, from the very first stage of product design all the way to the end of its lifecycle. This will allow us to create a system that meets our needs within our planetary boundaries and help cement sustainable urban habits.
Against this backdrop, the third theme for Citypreneurs Seoul 2019 is “Green Consumption & Production.” Under the framework of the Global Goals (UN SDGs), this theme calls for solutions to engage with the global supply chain from producers to consumers, so that they can adopt sustainable consumption choices and reduce their ecological footprints (SDG12). This includes mitigating the harm our current consumption and production habits place on marine environments (SDG14) and on ecosystems (SDG15) which will allow for the regeneration of natural resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.
Green Consumption & Production in Seoul
Sustainability by design offers opportunities to reshape the ways that we make and use things, changing the concept of waste to build capital instead of reducing it. Start-ups and businesses can play a crucial role in finding cost-effective solutions to quicken the sustainable transition of current consumption and production habits to ensure a circular economy.
Waste management is a pressing environmental issue for South Korea. The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and the Ministry of Environment are both aiming to reduce the country’s ecological footprint and turn the capital city into a plastic-free zone with its zero-plastic initiative. Alternative and more sustainable product designs, labelling and packaging options will have a chance to fill the market gap. Making use of unavoidable waste is also a part of efficient waste management. This includes reusing as much plastic as possible and reducing or eliminating the creation of new plastic. Knowledge sharing platforms and tools to monitor the use of products, packaging and food waste would br