Approximately 21 million tons of office paper are absorbed by U.S. businesses, while every worker at each business discards 500 disposable cups annually. Further, the United States recycles the least amount of plastic out of all the countries with only 0.2 million tons being recovered out of 14.4. In addition, an estimation of 6.6 million plastic bags could be eliminated if the customers of the 1,100 dry cleaners utilized garment bags. Simply put, waste is a hazardous issue to more than just the environment. It endangers the economy by proving to be ruinous, expensive, and toxic. Businesses should adopt sustainable packaging to assist in a proactive society. Disposal, landfills, and garbage management is an economic crisis that needs to be faced, especially considering the boundless solutions, such as recycling, reusing, waste-to-energy facilities, and designing for disassembly.
In the past, garbage management and landfills were rarely acknowledged until they grew into a worldly crisis of limited space, pollution, global warming, and deforestation, thus awareness developed innovative solutions and organizations. In fact, before the 1950s the concepts of recycling and reusing were unheard of. From the 1950s to the 1960s, single-use items were a daily necessity. “Use it once and throw it away,” was an overused and destructive motto. Luckily, the first Earth Day commenced in 1962 due to the enormous effect of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. By the 1980s, recycling increased immensely, but so did the crisis of garbage management. Recycling in America, by Debi Kimball describes it rightfully “With every American producing an average of 3.5 pounds of garbage each day.” New inventive solutions are springing up, especially the improved alternative, designing for disassembly, which deliberately purposes to close the production loop and create long-lasting, reusable products of all kinds. In other words, products are being built with a futuristic view of being taken apart for repurposing. The U.S. is participating in this new and inventive solution along with 12 other countries. As Daniel Leone states, “According to the National Academy of Sciences, 94% of the stuff that is pulled out of the earth enters the waste stream within months.” (181)
A benefit of this method is it could stop the depletion of the earth’s materials and minerals. Designing for disassembly, which is also called green manufacturing, is not merely an idea, it is a multibillion-dollar business, that is presently growing into a revolutionary and eco-friendly solution. One example of its success is the green manufacturing of cars. BMW manufactures green cars that are 80% recyclable. Rudolf Probst, a spokesperson, learned to use fasteners instead of glue in the bumpers. There are still problems related to tires, glass, and plastic, which will be solved by thinking of the problems beforehand. In summary, new eco-friendly solutions are growing and developing everywhere, especially green manufacturing, which builds products with a futuristic view.
Business waste and not creating environmentally friendly packaging have always been growing issues. There have been solutions continually springing up and developing around the world, such as recycling, reusing, and green manufacturing. Landfills especially are depicted as the problem, but if the right and innovative solutions were put into practice, then, the world would be much more resourceful. Designing for disassembly has the potential to close the production loop and save resources, time, and money. In the end, there are thousands of creative opportunities to become an environmentally thoughtful and proactive economy.
Essay by: Lydia Stoddard
Palm Beach Atlantic University