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Origin of the term
Rise of packaging waste
Between the start of New York City waste collections in 1905 and 2005 there was a tenfold rise in "product waste" (packaging and old products), from 92 to 1,242 pounds (41.7 to 563.4 kilograms) per person per year. Containers and packaging now represent 32 percent of all municipal solid waste. Non-durable goods (products used less than three years) are 27 percent, and durable goods are 16 percent.
Food service disposable tableware waste
In 2002, Taiwan began taking action to reduce the use of disposable tableware at institutions and businesses, and to reduce the use of plastic bags. Yearly, the nation of 17.7 million people was producing 59,000 tonnes (58,000 long tons; 65,000 short tons) of disposable tableware waste and 105,000 tonnes (103,000 long tons; 116,000 short tons) of waste plastic bags, and increasing measures have been taken in the years since then to reduce the amount of waste. In 2013, Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) banned outright the use of disposable tableware in the nation's 968 schools, government agencies and hospitals. The ban is expected to eliminate 2,600 tonnes (2,600 long tons; 2,900 short tons) of waste like disposable cups yearly.
In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, laws banning use of disposable food and drink containers at large scale events have been enacted. Such a ban has been in place in Munich, Germany since 1991, applying to all city facilities and events. This includes events of all sizes, including very large ones (Christmas market, Auer-Dult Faire, Oktoberfest and Munich City Marathon). For small events of a few hundred people, the city has arranged for a corporation offer rental of crockery and dishwasher equipment. In part through this regulation, Munich reduced the waste generated by Oktoberfest, which attracts tens of thousands of people, from 11,000 metric tons in 1990 to 550 tons in 1999.
China produces about 57 billion pairs of single-use chopsticks yearly, of which half are exported. About 45 percent are made from trees – about 3.8 million of them – mainly cotton wood, birch, and spruce, the remainder being made from bamboo. Japan uses about 24 billion pairs of these disposables per year, and globally the use is about 80 billion pairs are thrown away by about 1.4 million people. Reusable chopsticks in restaurants have a lifespan of 130 meals. In Japan, with disposable ones costing about 2 cents and reusable ones costing typically $1.17, the reusables better the $2.60 breakeven cost. Campaigns in several countries to reduce this waste are beginning to have some effect.
"Planned obsolescence" is a manufacturing philosophy developed in the 1920s and 1930s, when mass production became popular. The goal is to make a product or part that will fail, or become less desirable over time or after a certain amount of use. Vance Packard, author of The Waste Makers, book published in 1960, called this "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals."
Christian church attitude
Pope Francis frequently speaks about a "throwaway culture" in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste. In his encyclical Laudato si', he discusses pollution, waste, the lack of recycling, and the destruction of the earth as symptoms of this throwaway culture.
Francis stated that in a throwaway culture, even human lives are seen as disposable. He also cited the dangers of this culture in connection with immigration, saying, "A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world."
- Products, Waste, And The End Of The Throwaway Society, Helen Spiegelman and Bill Sheehan, The Networker, http://www.sehn.org/Volume_10-2.html
- Env. Research Foundation (undated). Taiwan’s Plastics Ban.
- China Post. June 5, 2013. EPA to ban disposable cups from June 1.
- Pre-Waste EU. (undated). Ban on disposable food and drink containers at events in Munich, Germany (Pre-waste factsheet 99)
- New York Times. Reus Oct. 24, 2011. Disposable Chopsticks Strip Asian Forests. By Rachel Nuwer.
- Ecopedia. 2013. How Wooden Chopsticks Are Killing Nature. By Alastair Shaw.
- "US wastes half its food". Retrieved 2014-07-05.
- Vallely, Paul (June 28, 2015). "The Pope's Ecological Vow". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- Reno, R.R. (June 18, 2015). "The Return of Catholic Anti-Modernism". Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- "Pope Calls Abortion Evidence of Throwaway Culture". Retrieved 2014-01-13.
- "Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home (official English-language text of encyclical)". Retrieved June 18, 2015.
- "Pope calls for protection of unaccompanied child migrants". Retrieved 2014-07-22.
- How disposable chopsticks are made (video).
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