Zero Waste Through Waste Separation at Source

A simple act that can have such a huge impact to our earth

One university student examines the silvery sheen of the recycled roof, crafted from Tetra Pak’s used beverage cartons; her face holds an equally amused and curious expression.

        “I never realized that something nice can be made out of waste,” she says.

That’s right: most people are still perplexed that a useful product can actually be made from something as dirty as waste—no doubt shaped by the memory of the sight of landfills or, on a smaller scale, of watching residential tukang sampah (garbage man) pulling his carriage around, leaving behind a putrid smell as he walks past.

        But, trust us, beauty can still bloom from such “dirty” thing as waste—the Recycled Roof is case in point.

But first, separate!

Recovered Materials

The only reason why waste is dirty or disgusting in most people’s eyes is that WE made it like that. Everything is scrambled together—our biodegradables along with our non-biodegradables—up to the point that the recyclables are no longer, well, recyclable. Instead of being recycled or reused, it’ll end up useless in landfills or worse, in the stomach of an innocent whale.

  Unfortunately, only 10 – 15% of the waste collected gets recycled while the rest are simply landfilled. When we separate our waste, we’ll make the recovery of recyclables easier and thus gives the things that we previously dispose of so nonchalantly in the waste bin a second life.  In fact, a circular economy model proposes that there are no such thing as waste—it’s recovered materials that can be reused, repaired, repurposed, and recycled over and over again. So definitely NO single-use!

 A glass bottle can be reused as another glass bottle, a used soft drink can may be back on the shelf in no time after it has been recycled, and a Tetra Pak’s used beverage carton can have a three-fold result once it’s gone through the recycling process: the paper layer can be recycled back into paper (called the closed-loop recycling), while the plastic and aluminum foil layers, in our case, we transform into our compost bin and roof (open-loop). And technically, once the product has reached the end of its lifespan then it can still be broken down and be recycled back.

Now that’s what we call sustainable.

Reduce – Separate

And YOU can help in making it happen simply by separating your waste at home. Put aside your kitchen waste and return back to earth (or by using a compost bin); then put aside your plastic/glass bottles, your used beverage cartons, your empty bottle of detergent, your soft drink cans, your used paper, your parking receipts, your magazines, your cereal packaging, and let it be recycled or upcycled into something useful once again.

   Being responsible with our waste – like practicing Waste Separation at Source – is a great way to achieve zero waste to landfill, however it’s also important to Reduce buying unnecessary products when you know that there is a reusable alternative such as a water tumbler as an alternative to plastic bottles, your own shopping bag to replace plastic bag, or shopping at a zero waste shop as opposed to a regular shop. Even if it’s not available near you, make sure the packaging you buy is recyclable or from recycled materials.

    Once we’ve done all that, then we separate our recovered materials.

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