UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lauded the leadership of the Turkish government and First Lady Emine Erdogan in combatting global waste, which he said is “making a mess of our world.”
“Humanity is treating our planet like a garbage dump. We are trashing our only home. We’re spewing a torrent of waste and pollution that is affecting our environment, our economies, and our health,” Guterres told the UN General Assembly as it commemorated the first Zero Waste Day on Thursday, part of an initiative led by the Turkish first lady.
“I want to recognise and salute the leadership of the government of Türkiye and First Lady Emine Erdogan on this vital issue,” added the UN chief.
In 2017, under the auspices of Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan, Türkiye launched the zero waste project to highlight the importance of eliminating waste in fighting the climate crisis.
The project has drawn international praise.
Last December, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on a zero waste initiative presented by Türkiye declaring March 30 as the International Day of Zero Waste.
READ MORE: UN adopts Türkiye’s ‘zero waste’ resolution
‘Waste is a killer’
According to the World Bank, an average of 0.74 kilogrammes of waste is produced daily per person worldwide. This value ranges from 0.11 to 4.54 kilogrammes. It is expected to add up to 3.88 billion tonnes annually by 2050.
As of 2022, an average of 82 percent of municipal waste is collected worldwide and 55 percent is sent to waste treatment facilities. Food loss and waste have significant environmental, social, and economic consequences.
Some 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions can be chalked up to the growing, transport and storage of food that is never used, which Guterres said is “an outrage” when 800 million people around the globe go hungry every year.
“Waste is a killer. Of people. Of our planet. Of our natural resources and ecosystems. Of economies, which lose billions each year from waste. And the gobs of garbage keep growing,” Guterres said.
“Garbage is laying waste to our planet. It’s time to fight back.”
The International Day of Zero Waste is jointly facilitated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
It has been established through a UN General Assembly resolution that followed other resolutions on waste, including the 2 March 2022 UN Environment Assembly’s commitment to advance a global agreement to end plastic pollution.