Waste production has increased with a significant impact on the environment as the world population continues to grow, contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. This year’s theme for the International Day of Zero Waste aims to raise awareness of the importance of zero waste and responsible consumption and production practices, and urban waste management contributing to achieving sustainable development. With only 55 percent of municipal solid waste managed in controlled facilities, adopting a zero-waste approach is crucial to prevent waste, promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, protect the environment, and enhance food security while improving human health and well-being.
Agriculture is an essential sector that sustains human life and provides food for the world’s population. However, agriculture activities generate significant waste, including animal manure, food scraps, and packaging materials. This waste can have negative environmental and health impacts if not managed correctly. It can pollute water bodies, emit greenhouse gases, and create breeding grounds for pests and diseases.
At the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, sustainable sound practices for minimizing and managing waste are being applied to reduce waste and promote sustainability in agriculture and for the globe as a whole through composting, recycling, reducing food waste, and sustainable packaging, conserving resources to promote a healthier planet.
In an exclusive interview with Wole Gregory, lead of the Youth Sustainable Waste Ecosystem Program(YSWEP) at IITA, he emphasizes how sustainable development goals in agriculture can be applied to achieve zero waste, “there is a need for restructuring in our mindsets when it comes to promoting zero-waste, the change does not need to start from the government, the change needs to start with us as individuals, addressing all forms of waste, including food loss, natural resource extraction, and electronic waste. Achieving zero waste is a crucial step, and we at IITA are all working together to minimize waste and its impact on the environment. By adopting a zero-waste approach, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations,” he said.
Adopting zero-waste practices is essential for protecting the environment, promoting food security, improving the health and well-being of communities worldwide, and creating a sustainable future. Humans can make a difference by adopting sustainable consumption habits, reusing and repairing products, and properly disposing of waste. While governments, industries, organizations such as IITA, and other stakeholders work together to create policies and systems that support a circular economy and reduce waste, individuals are encouraged to support zero-waste initiatives to achieve a zero-waste world.
Contributed by Jamila Mohammed-Audu