Monday, July 30, 2012

ATA 2012 Annual Conference Session: Let's Talk Trash!

By Abigail Dahlberg, German-English Environmental Translations

As the world starts to run short on raw materials, industry and policy-makers are increasingly looking to waste to bridge the gap. This state of affairs has sparked somewhat of an identity crisis for the waste management industry, which is now struggling to define when a waste becomes a secondary raw material. This is also reflected into the terminology that is now in use: Fewer and fewer texts refer to "garbage" (US English) or "rubbish". Instead, businesses prefer to put on a positive spin and refer to recycled raw materials or secondary raw materials.

Beyond the issues of what is and what is not a waste, new developments have also come thick and fast in the field of waste treatment technologies. In the industrialized world, the days of simply taking everything to the local dump are over. Europe and Japan are leading the way with ambitious targets to reduce the amount of waste consigned to landfill. This is bringing more sophisticated technologies to the fore, namely mechanical-biological treatment, waste-to-energy processes and other recycling techniques. The US is some distance behind, but is also slowly but surely taking steps towards embracing recycling.

Yet, staggering differences with regards to the recovery and disposal of waste remain around the globe. While residents in African countries are lucky if they have any sort of waste collection systems, homeowners in Germany have to sort their waste into any number of different bins. My presentation at the ATA Conference will address these issues and also provide an in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of different waste treatment systems.

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