Ameria's Waste Crisis
If you think that America ranks in the top ten list of the most wasteful countries, then you are partly correct. However, you may be underestimating the magnitude of the problem. America is none other than the most wasteful country in the world. Yes, America is rank one when it comes to waste generation.
How Much America Really Wastes
The trouble does not end here with the number one rank. America is the biggest waster by far with a huge margin. The US accounts for just 4% of the total world population and is yet responsible for 12% of the total solid waste worldwide. These statistics were revealed by the global consulting and risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft.
In other words, America is generating more than its fair share of garbage. Each US citizen generates around 1700 pounds of solid waste each year. When translated to the entire US population, this implies a truly staggering 240 million tons of solid waste per annum.
If you think that China and India produce more waste than the US, then you are correct. But there is a big catch here. Both countries also have enormous populations that add up to 2.7 billion combined. The two countries account for a massive 27% of the total solid waste worldwide. But in the context of their colossal populations, the number is not as bad as what you would think. At least not as bad as how America is faring.
Although India and China have 8 times the US population, they are only generating twice as much garbage as America. Sadly, the US is the king of trash by far. Seen another way, the average US citizen generates over 3 times as much trash as the average Chinese citizen.
There is no doubt that garbage is a major problem around the world. The report estimated that the entire world generates more than 2 billion tons of solid waste each year. The waste is enough to fill over 820,000 Olympic swimming pools. Undoubtedly, America is not alone in generating waste, but it is the most prominent one in several ways.
Solid Waste and America
The authors of the report expressed their concerns with respect to Americans’ apathy towards reducing their waste footprint. The authors of the report not only analyzed the actual amounts of waste generated, but they also studied the measures that individual countries are taking to battle waste. These include the recycling rate, commitment to international environmental treaties, use of sustainable materials, disposal, and collection methods, as well as other key aspects.
Having taken all these facets into account, the authors stated that the US lags behind other industrialized nations in managing its waste footprint. For instance, the rate of solid waste recycling in the US stands at a meager 35% in comparison to the much more respectable 68% of Germany. The authors declared the US to be the only industrialized nation whose ability to recycle cannot possibly keep with its rate of waste generation. They blamed this on a lack of investment and political will.
In addition to its distinction of having the biggest prison population worldwide, the US is also now the biggest source of solid waste across the globe. The per capita waste generation of US citizens far outstrips average waste generation of other countries that rank high on this list.
How America is Solving the Solid Waste Problem
Despite all these startling figures, there is an environmental renaissance silently sweeping across the US. More and more US citizens are becoming aware of their negative impact on the environment and are taking countermeasures in this regard. Some of these measures include reducing waste and increasing how much you reuse and recycle. It is important to introspect, reconsider your environmental habits and set your priorities straight. Prioritizing waste reduction is necessary if we want a safe future and environment for our future generations.
Americans have started taking steps to reduce their waste footprint. The zero-waste concept was just a concept a few years back but is now becoming a key part of how business is done in the country. More and more consumers are choosing to support companies that have a strong commitment towards the environment, particularly waste reduction. The millennials and the younger generation are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of their buying decisions. Thus, they are choosing to buy from companies that show a firm resolve towards reducing waste and the adverse impact on the environment.
Even the political leadership has started to take note. In fact, they are now taking concrete actions. New York, San Diego, and San Francisco have joined hands to minimize the amount of trash going towards landfills. They are working towards making a zero-waste approach a reality by 2040. Although there have been a few setbacks, which is inevitable, municipal authorities have worked around these impediments and are closing in their zero-waste goal.
Several communities, towns and cities have now banned plastic bags and Styrofoam. Not too long ago, it was thought that modern life would be unlivable without these materials. But now it has become apparent that we all can do very well without them. It is heartening to note that an increasing number of brands are now eschewing plastics and highlighting sustainable and natural materials as the key part of their marketing strategy.
It is encouraging to see that there is now competition among brands to minimize synthetic materials and harmful materials like plastics. Brands are also advising consumers on how they can act to reduce their environmental impact and solid waste generation.
Far from being a liability and unnecessary expense as many feared, environmental responsibility and the zero-waste approach are now proving to be viable marketing strategies that brands can leverage to engage consumers and win their hearts and minds.