Policy Challenges Presented by Environmental Problems
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The 21st century brings humanity such challenges as global warming and pollution, loss of biodiversity, lack of clean water and food, lack of energetic resources, exceeding solid and hazardous waste, public land use, etc. These are a few most common and urgent problems among numerous others that the human kind faces today. According to the researchers, already in 2030, people will have to produce 50% more food and 30% more clean water in order to survive, while continuing getting used to the climate changes, which will trigger a series of global events, which they call a “perfect storm” (Beddington, p. 1). The scientists have identified that these issues are interconnected; therefore, finding the solution for solving one of the problems will affect other problems as well. Using technology and research, the humanity has discovered that we can control these issues through a variety of regulations and policies, which help seeding an investment into the foundation of a greener, cleaner and richer future. Nevertheless, the action has to be taken by the researchers, as well as from the part of the masses and professional authorities.
Solid and hazardous waste, resulting from human activities, affect all aspects of human life, as well as life on the planet in general. Exceeding quantity of food, electronic, and industrial waste pose an issue of cleaning, recycling, synthesizing, and dumping different kinds of waste. In addition to the occurring planet contamination by the human activities and waste, different policies and waste management strategies compete with each other. Nevertheless, the mankind has separated two main perspectives that contribute to our understanding of the environmental challenge. Waste recycling and development of alternative energy strategies are the pinpoint solution of environmental awareness worldwide. Besides their competition with each other, these strategies of waste utilization have their advantages and drawbacks as well. The main task of the scientists in this sphere today is to settle an optimal environmental and social friendly policy, closely analyzing previous attempts of the researchers both on domestic and regional level, as well as regulations of a global scale.
Therefore, the paper will identify significant challenges the policymakers face while dealing with environmental issues, such as solid and hazardous waste and explain their pros and cons. As well as evaluate two outlook ways of undergoing environmental problem. A problem solving model for solid and hazardous waste will be suggested by analyzing the examples from already existing policies in different countries, and explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of the plan will be added.
Challenges facing policymakers
Each created solution policy for waste reduction and utilization has advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, one of the most problematic issues is that the newly declared policies, using newly declared by the Environmental Action Programmes (EAP) “new kinds of policy instruments which are less impositional (Richardson 1982), more market-based, more reliant on co-operative decision-making”, continue using the old models, which are less efficient, cheaper and outdated, state Rittberger and Richardson (2003, 575). The authors have tested the claim of replacing old policies and instruments by the new ones in practice of the Commission. Since the first EAP in 1972 in Paris, Community’s environmental policy takes place for defining goals and instruments for providing legislative measures to support the environmental balance by reducing pollution, clean the territories, raise environmental awareness, and control the natural resources (Rittberger & Richardson 2003, 576). The reason for the need to improve the regulations from “command and control” approach is climate hostile, economically inefficient and too broad. Meaning, command, and control approach takes too much responsibility resulting in the lack of variety to different regions allowing individual plants continue polluting the atmosphere. The lack of efficient competition on the market reduces the usage of innovative technology for pollution control (576).
Taking a look at the operational level of suggestions, the Commission has decided to reframe the policies and “reflect more strongly the principles of subsidiarity, sustainability, and deregulation” (587). User product and application charges of economic policy tools had been introduced in a more persistent way; therefore, the “command and control” approach becomes a new “market-based” instrument, which focuses on “getting the prices right” for setting the system of taxation and charges for pollution (588). Nevertheless, the “market-based” instrument does not work fully in practice as wished. The policymakers identified the realistic “hybrid category model”, which combines the features of the old model and the new generation economically advanced model into an approach based on planning using financial support mechanisms facing the development of regional management, rather than global scale on a testing project basis.
At the Fifth EAP, the Commission has identified a range of issues related to the waste management and developed a few ways of dealing with the issue. Ritterber and Richardon (2003) write that The Commission suggested “the legislation covering toxic and dangerous waste and other specific types of waste (for example, oil), the transfer of dangerous waste, waste management strategies, the incineration of waste, and so on” (591). The EAP emphasized the need to prevent waste and root the problem at source, rather than try to solve the problem after it occurs. They have identified majorly responsible manufacturers, who take an important role in the waste management process, suggesting the introduction of directive on waste automobiles, electric and electronic equipment. For the reason of inefficiency of such waste management solutions as taxation and charges, and shipping waste, the institution decides to proceed to approach reforms and suggests an innovative resolution of using waste as power, electric and electronic fuel.
Finding environmentally, economically and socially novice solution for dealing with solid waste becomes an extreme challenge for the governmental institutions and the policymakers, as it becomes a demanded resource, which raises funds and “contributes to the Millennium Development Goal” (Gutberlet, 2012, p. 19). This poses a challenge that the policymakers face when trying to deal with waste problem in creating a policy, which overlaps with another approach of dealing with the issue. Gutberlet (2012) gives an example of the action-oriented situation in Brazil where introduction of various environmentally friendly organizations is presented. Brazil’s policy aims at cleaning the solid waste, hazardous waste, electronic waste for recycling. Nevertheless, increasing demand for waste, as an alternative power, put recycling industries and civilians out of business. Gutberlet (2012) writes that, in Brazil, “the recent introduction of waste to energy technology is perceived as a threat to the recyclers’ livelihoods” (19). In addition, the policy regarding the reduction of landfills, incinerations, and recycling has become only optimal outcome for dealing with the waste. Despise the growing number of incineration facilities, their number on a global scale is still small due to the costly technology reasons, which poses a challenge globally. However, this trend is progressing fast all over the world. “The re-wrapped incineration technology is now sold under new names like energetic recycling, energy recovery or green energy production and is promoted as easy and immediate solution to the garbage dilemma and the growing demand for new energy sources”; writes Gutberlet (2012) in his article (23).
Angel and Rice (1996) disclose another object of policymakers’ negotiation. According to the authors, due to a rapid popularity increasing, it is possible that the deep ocean environments would become another place of waste disposal (915). Although, the depth of the ocean is not an acceptable option for waste disposal due to the consistency of waste contents, which can be harmful and pollute the ecosystem of the ocean, as well as the finite resources of the depth of the ocean. Even though, the majority of the scientists defend the idea that, on a large scale, waste dumping into the fields of the oceans would not have visible effects. The Law of the Sea Convention prevents pursuing such idea due to the possible variant of the large-scale pollution (Angel & Rice 1996, 915).
Perspectives of Understanding Environmental Challenge
Recycling and waste into energy transformation are two main perspectives that contribute to our understanding of the environmental challenge. These two perspectives are considered to be the trend around the world for waste management. The environmental policymakers are rendering their forces on recycling and alternative power constraint, supplying the research with money and necessary regulations for the perspective development and solving of the environmental problem.
First, recycling is one of the top priorities of focus for the policymakers. Nonetheless, due to a variety of reasons, many countries have to put this activity-based approach aside. Read, Phillips and Murphy state that “minimization is the top priority of the waste management hierarchy, yet […] minimization is not being given the necessary policy framework required for its successful development”. True, building the incineration facilities is costly and time consuming. For this reason, the policymakers and the society has to find other ways of dealing with solid waste. For instance, today, there exist a vast amount of environmental non-profit organizations, which collect the garbage voluntarily. Such organizations raise money from the masses for the salvation of the planet; collect for the building of the incineration facilities.
Renckens writes that “electronic waste has recently emerged as an environmental issue of growing concern”, underlying a new threat for the environment and a newly arisen challenge for policymakers (2008, 284). Nevertheless, not only the government creates the regulations regarding the environmental issues, but also the society takes part in helping out as well. According to Renckens (2008), the United Sates accounts for the one fourth of electronics use in the world. Due to the technological progress, which occurs at an amazing speed, old hardware and electronics create a great amount of waste, called the E-waste. In addition to trashing the landfills, some of the electronic materials cannot be reused, which certainly causes additional problems to the recycling process and waste management. Also, some of components of e-waste, such as cathode ray tubes, the displays, batteries, circuit boards, etc., contain glass, cannot be reused, or conduct harmful chemicals. Due to the lack of initiative in the US framework regulation concerning dealing with e-waste, the individuals-activists have decided to take responsibility for performing the regulatory void (287).
Also, selective garbage picking has become a survival strategy for underprivileged in many countries. In some countries, garbage is predisposed to the poor. For them, solid waste means resources, and recycling becomes a means of existence, a job. In such a way, people are motivated and are really committed to the idea of being provided with food, shelter, or money. Gutberlet writes “Community-driven, action oriented research implies “systematic inquiry, with the collaboration of those affected by the issue being studied, for purposes of education and taking action or effecting change”” (2012, 19). Attraction of the masses is beneficial for raising awareness among the society, as well as providing individuals of various social classes with double cause advantage: to clean the environment and earn for living.
Second priority perspective of understanding environmental challenge focuses on the transformation of waste into something useful, for instance, energy, electricity, reuse of materials, and use in every sphere of life. Getberlet (2012) writes “Participatory, sustainable waste management (PSWM) is defined as “solid waste recovery, reuse and recycling practices with organized and empowered recycling co-operatives supported with public policies, embedded in solidarity economy, targeting social equity and environmental sustainability”” (28). Reuse of utilized waste has many positive aspects. First of all, it is cheaper; therefore, usage of reworked materials is more economic. Second, it inquires the attribution of social resources, which is instructional, educational, and organized in a common goal of a clean environment. Getberlet (2012) states that “the concept combines social with environmental goals, by addressing livelihood concerns such as generating work and income, investing in human development and improving environmental health” (28).
This model has its pillars. The first pillar suggests the idea of giving the freedom to organize and govern waste management by addressing social and political contexts. On this level, it is crucial to involve the civilians, governmental, and non-governmental organizations into the decision-making process through democratic transparency. Second pillar focuses on the economic annd collective issues by setting the goals and calculating the possible outcomes, and identifying the model variant for economic development. The author (Getberlet 2012) writes that “economy brings social justice issues and values, such as cooperation, redistribution and reciprocity, into the economy” (28). The last pillar is about managing the decisive processes of the stakeholders in order to approve or cancel the waste management model. It suggests that the actors of the decision-making process should share the responsibilities for taking actions in developing the waste management model (28). Such policy has shown great results on the example of Brazil waste management regulation system, which engages the collective approach for resolving a problem faced by the society in general.
Waste Management Policy Recommendation
One of the suggestions for solving the problem of solid and hazardous waste would be to recommend a policy, based on the history of scientific research in this field, analyzing the successful and failed attempts. In today’s world, the most recommended waste management trends are recycling and waste into energy transformation. Despite these two are considered the most optimal and environmentally friendly options, they also have unfortunate disadvantages, which bring destruction, pollution, etc.
On my personal opinion, there is no one perfect way of dealing with a problem of a global scale. Therefore, my suggestion would be to provide a complex of socially and economically based models of waste prevention and management. First of all, according to the suggestions of the EAP Commission, the policymakers have to strengthen already existing regulations and policies, such as taxation and charges for irresponsible recycling, for instance (Richardson 1982). Such approach should be especially reinforced for the factories, industries, big manufactures, which provide the majority of waste. In addition to responsible recycling, the waste into energy transformation would follow. This approach requires budgeting, which is a worthy investment from the part of the government, as well as from the fund raising environmental organizations. Another suggestion for the big industries is issuing a regulation regarding transferring onto a waste free production, meaning that each and every manufacturer would have to utilize the waste of the production. Such approach would result in small amounts of industrial solid and hazardous waste, which will ease the problem of dealing it.
In addition to strengthening already existing policies, I would suggest my own action-based policy. All the waste, which does not fall under any category of recycling, transformation, reuse, or utilization, would be collected into a non-fireproof container and released into the depth of space. The fast movement of the rocket will create friction with the atmosphere and will burn the waste container out in such a way freeing the planet from non-reusable materials. Further research and budgeting would be suggested, nevertheless, this idea deserves attention for close analysis.
The benefits of my recommendation are multidimensional. First, such approach strikes from all directions at the same time and, therefore, assures better results. It includes the range of all the aspects of waste management from the simplest and smallest, to the most complex and global. In addition, the space dumping theory is innovative and realistic in theory. Also, it will solve the problem for lack of space for landfills or ocean depth dumps. Even such a powerful and complex solution, which, in theory, would work out perfectly, nevertheless, will be put down by its drawbacks on practice. The complex form of my approach has also drawbacks. First, the chosen range is too broad. My complex management system is too broad to be able to work, implying too many elements. The country will not be able to follow the completion of all the terms of the policies, as well as assign responsible managers in each state in addition to each city, which will follow into the second reason of absurdity of my approach. Building a special waste delivering shuttle, which deploys the waste into outer space, and burns the disposal in the reaction with the oxygen in the atmosphere, will not find enough funding to be able to work.
Human activities result in a variety of issues, such as global warming, pollution, and public land use, resulting in lack of food, clean water, lack of energetic resources, and exceeding solid and hazardous waste. In the 21st century, with the use of technological advancements, human beings have started to produce vast amounts of solid, hazardous, and electronic waste. Fortunately, we have found the ways to reverse harmful implications of daily life of a human by administering regulations and policies, which discipline the various stages of waste management. Each created solution policy for waste reduction and utilization has advantages and disadvantages. Finding new environmentally economically and socially legitimate ways to solve the problem of waste management becomes more and more challenging for the governmental institutions and the policymakers. For this reason, EAP Commission identifies functional and non-functional aspects of policy and reforms them by mixing old ways and introducing novel up-to-date ones. In any case, the EAP Commission works constantly on amelioration of the regulations and self-control.
Among the regulations, the responsible control model is needed to make sure that the regulations are not violated and the society contributes to keeping the planet clean, recycling of waste material in order to use it again. The responsible control model results in lesser waste amount, transforming it into alternative power and alternative sources of fuel from waste. Many of these regulations pose problems due to the lack of their organization, or lack of punishment. Nonetheless, the policies work less effectively due to overlapping of their approaches among themselves, which results in a failure to grasp the goal of the initial purpose. Among a variety of perspectives that contribute to our understanding of the environmental challenge, recycling and waste into energy transformation are two main trends, which are supported and developed through the world. Also, basing on the experience from previous models of waste management, I have created my own complex model, which implied all aspects of regulations. I critically analyzed positive and negative sides of my model, providing clear explanations regarding the suggestions. Further investigation of the topic and more realistic and detailed model development is necessary for further environmental research.