Upcoming event: Burning vs Zero Waste

Lisa Vonk Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Te Papa, Mahuki Level 2

Waste – is burning the best way to deal with it? Zero-waste expert Paul Connett discusses the downsides of incineration, and explores sustainable alternatives. A Q&A follows.

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In this talk Dr. Connett, a retired professor of chemistry and author of the book The Zero Waste Solution, will explain why neither incineration nor related thermal technologies are an appropriate or safe solution for waste management in NZ. Connett will explain why such techniques block the necessary shift from a linear to a circular economy. These techniques are extremely expensive, and create relatively few jobs or social benefits. They do not get rid of landfill because approximately 25% of the incoming waste ends up as a toxic ash or slag. High temperature processes cause the emission of highly toxic substances like toxic metals and dioxins. The latter are concentrated by grazing animals, chickens and fish which would threaten NZ’s agricultural and tourist industries. Compounding this emission problem is the fact that the bulk of these highly toxic substances will be emitted on the surface of very tiny particles called nanoparticles, particles so small they evade air pollution control. When they reach the lungs of local residents, the particles can easily pass through the lung membranes and reach every tissue in the body.  But even if this technology was made safe (and a place was found for the ash), it would not be a sensible approach. According to Connett, our task is “not to find better ways to destroy materials, but to stop making products and packaging that has to be destroyed.” A better approach to the waste problem will be outlined. The Zero Waste strategy will be described, including the ten practical steps to approach this goal. Communities using this approach have reached over 80% diversion from landfills without the need for expensive and problematic incineration and related thermal technologies.

This event is co-hosted with Te Papa.

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