Thinking About Waste As a Resource

  • 2016/01/21     Dresden, Germany


    Waste is a debatable word. For many, it is a nuisance or a liability. In the newest addition to the Nexus Seminar Series on Monday 18 January 2016, UNU-FLORES Academic Officer for Waste Management, Prof. Dr. Hiroshan Hettiarachchi challenged this mindset. He argued that, on the contrary, waste is in fact rich, resourceful, and valuable.

    During his talk, Hettiarachchi pointed out that waste has become an issue in most communities thanks to the suboptimal management practices. When sustainable management practices gained popularity a couple of decades ago, it also started making a positive influence on waste management. As a result resource-recovery options are now highly encouraged compared to incineration and landfilling. While recovery of conveniently recyclable material – such as paper, plastics, glass, metal and so on – is on the rise, recovering biomass from waste is also gaining momentum. In addition to waste-compost, Hettiarrachchi pointed out that biochar and biocoal are good examples for new “waste-products” from biomass.


    This new perspective on waste and the products that are emerging from it are the driving motivation behind UNU-FLORES’s decision to look at managing waste resources in a nexus together with soil and water. Applying the Nexus Approach to natural resources management is relatively a new concept: it is promising but challenging. “Adding waste into this mix is even more challenging. Raising public awareness, positively influencing resource management policies, optimizing the existing sustainable recovery options, and looking for more innovative ways of recovery are perhaps the best next steps we should take to make the nexus work and deliver its intended purpose,” Hettiarachchi surmised.

    The Nexus Seminar No. 9 was the concluding seminar of the series for the Winter Term. UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden will again be joining forces to deliver thought provoking lectures and rigorous discussions on the Nexus Approach to environmental resources management in the 2016 Summer Term. Please look for information on the Summer Term line-up in the coming weeks.