Waste is a fact, but it doesn’t have to be feared. We can tackle this through collection, sorting and processing.
The world has a trash problem. There’s too much waste and not enough effective management systems to deal with it. 2.1 billion tons of garbage is produced each year by the world’s population, an average of 4.4 pounds per person per day. Organic waste -- food we eat, horticultural waste -- makes up about half of all global solid waste, and paper and plastic about 27%¹.
Most of this waste is destined for landfills, but as we have seen on the nightly news and social media– a lot of it finds its way into the rivers, the ocean, washed up on beaches, littering parks and natural areas, as well as our urban communities. Our throwaway society, as well as a lack of waste management and recycling infrastructure, have contributed to this trash crisis. Particularly in emerging economies like Africa and Southeast Asia where rising middle-class incomes is fueling demand for more consumer-packaged goods, which in turn creates more waste.
Not one person, company or entity can solve this trash dilemma alone. Nor will one solution. It will take massive investments to scale waste management infrastructure and recycling solutions. The good news is that we are already seeing progress on technology advancements and funding mechanisms to accelerate projects. But the one simple thing that we can all do right now to help, is to pick up trash whenever you see it.
In 2018, Team Dow mobilized on this issue through the #PullingOurWeight campaign with over 5,000 employees at 50 clean-ups around the world collecting over 50,000 pounds of waste. The largest volunteer turn-out for a single cause in the company’s history.
In 2019 – WOW! 18,000 volunteers came together to participate in 175 clean-ups to collect over 175,000 pounds of waste. Clean-up events were large and small, with family, friends, customers, and suppliers working side-by-side with employees to clean-up a beach, a park, a nature preserve, a river, or a lake. International signature clean-ups were held in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Nariobi Kenya; and Rayong Thailand - with hundreds of volunteers in attendance.
This is Team Dow in action, a company that values leading with purpose and implementing with heart. Imagine the multiplier effect if we all worked to organize, join or support a clean-up event in 2020. Imagine a million pounds of waste collected. Possible? I think so. Download the #PullingOurWeight playbook to help you get started.
Waste is a fact, but it doesn’t have to be feared. We can tackle this through collection, sorting and processing. Dow is globally committed to the task. However, for the world to ultimately be rid of litter in the environment, we must all help do our part to properly dispose of waste, practice recycling and pick up litter wherever you see it.
Now is the time to do what is necessary.
As President Joe Biden took office yesterday, our nation faces critical and urgent issues: a global pandemic, extraordinary economic challenges and political unrest following the siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Yet, as one of his first acts in office, the President rejoined the Paris Agreement. While the U.S. has made substantial progress on CO2 emissions, this move signals to the rest of the world that the United States will once again engage and collaborate in reducing carbon emissions to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Its message also should be a reminder that, while our nation faces the immediate task of recovery, we must work for transformative change. Now is the time to act – act boldly, to move our nation toward a net-zero economy.