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World marks first International Day of Zero Waste to promote circular economy and reduce pollution

The world has marked the first International Day of Zero Waste, in response to the worsening impacts of waste on human health, the economy and the environment. The day aims to encourage everyone to prevent and minimize waste and promote a societal shift towards a circular economy.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, stated that the waste crisis is undermining the Earth's ability to sustain life, costing the global economy billions of dollars each year. The International Day of Zero Waste calls upon all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, businesses, academia, communities, women, and youth, to engage in activities that raise awareness of zero-waste initiatives.


Picture: Kumaon Jagran

Humanity generates more than 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste annually, of which 45% is mismanaged. Without urgent action, this will rise to almost 4 billion tons by 2050. Waste comes in all forms and sizes, including plastics, debris from mining and construction sites, electronics, and food. It disproportionately impacts the poor, with up to 4 billion people lacking access to controlled disposal facilities.

Promoting zero-waste initiatives can help advance all the goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, and Sustainable Development Goal 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

In its resolution to establish the Day, the UN General Assembly underlined the potential of zero-waste initiatives and called upon all stakeholders to engage in "activities aimed at raising awareness of national, subnational, regional, and local zero-waste initiatives and their contribution to achieving sustainable development."

Türkiye, which put forward the resolution alongside 105 other countries, is among the leaders of the zero-waste movement. Türkiye launched its zero-waste project in 2017 under the leadership of Her Excellency Emine Erdoğan, the First Lady. On the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2022, the First Lady of Türkiye and the UN Secretary-General signed a goodwill document to extend the country's zero-waste project globally.

To mark the International Day of Zero Waste, businesses, governments, non-profits, and more are hosting events all over the world. These include community information sessions, e-waste and food collection drives, fashion shows, photo exhibitions, and conferences.

The President of the UN General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting in New York to provide a platform to exchange the experiences and success stories of Member States in developing and implementing solid waste management solutions and technologies.

UNEP, including through its One Planet Network and UN-Habitat, will undertake campaigns and concerted outreach efforts in the build-up to observations of International Day of Zero Waste on 30 March every year to continue rallying support and action on the importance of zero waste.

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