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All societies produce waste, though its characteristics and what happens to it depend on cultural, economic and political factors at local, national and global scales. New business models, technological innovations and social enterprise have the potential to reduce waste. Policymakers have a key role to play in supporting these efforts by fostering better communication between stakeholders; through regulation that prioritises reuse and quality recycling; and by encouraging resource efficiency through education, research and manufacturing initiatives.
Waste nationally and globally is increasingly problematic and challenging to policymakers. It is a problem that is increasing in scale and scope. It matters to all of us for a series of reasons:
- There is simply so much waste. In a country with a small land area and a large population, the sheer bulk of waste is in and of itself a problem;
- As humans congregate in cities around the world, the production of waste has become highly concentrated and that creates particular challenges for its collection and disposal:
- Much waste is harmful. The scale of that harm has become global. It harms both humans and the other species with which we share the planet. That harm comes in many forms.