Monday, May 23, 2016

Bottled Economy

Bottled Economy

With urbanisation of life and unlimited desires to fulfil better quality of life, we have increased the consumption of packed and bottled materials in our life day by day. The world waste is flooding with bottles, tins, packs, plastics, aluminium and other materials. Door to door collection of waste and its disposal is one of the major activities of the civic administrations all over the world.

The system of waste collection and disposal in Japan is unique. The waste management has been divided into four paths: refuse (generate less at the source), reduce (make as much as you want so that waste is reduced), reuse (use the waste for making new item out of it), recycle (use it as raw materials to recycle).

Some of the municipalities have tried a method of charging collection bag so that people generate less waste at the source. The household to buy a garbage bag by paying $10/bag. The civic collector van can accept only these bags. Some people oppose the system of buying the bags as they feel that garbage collection is the duty of the civic administration. Sometimes this may be the major agenda item in the elections.

People segregate their waste in Japan in 7 categories: Burnable (collected twice in a week on Tuesday and Friday); Plastics (collected on every Monday); Bins, Canes, Glasses, bottles (every Thursday); used paper and clothes (4th Wednesday); used articles, utensils, plates, battery, electrical waste, etc, (2n Wednesday); furniture, bicycle, cupboard, etc, (by appointment); other things (on call). The civic administration collects the waste through covered trucks and send them to the incinerators and recycling centres. For first five categories of waste, the citizen need not to pay to the waste collector but it is included in the tax. The average annual tax burden is approximately $130/head/annum. People are taxed differently as per their income slabs. Simply taking an example of bottle disposal incinerator, a unit installed for four of the municipalities (total 4 lakh people) will cost $50 million capital expenditure. The operating cost with a staff of 30 people will cost $4 million/annum.

Look at the cost of a plastic bottle of a glass of juice from it's generation to disposal. Canning, transporting, selling through malls and markets, purchased by using vehicles, stored into refrigerators, and disposed off in the bins, ultimately recycled by the incinerator at a heavy cost. A glass of juice may be costing more than $100-200 in the cycle.

I was thinking economics from two sides. Why should we spend such a high amount on the bottled life? If people live in a traditional way and make everything at home, and use organic material, the waste generated by the modern method of living will stop immediately. And the expenditure of the waste management will come down drastically.

But my mind was looking at the population and their stomach. How to feed them? We need employment and employment opportunities. $1 value juice bottle will end up with a GDP and economy size of $1 or little more. But the circulation of the product in the economy is making the GDP and Economy bigger, the size of $100-200. We are exploiting the natural resources without any check and control. The population without war and threat of life is increasing and the exploitation of natural resources is also increasing with higher pace.

How long should we continue with the present model of airing up the balloon? Better quality of life to billions at the cost of ecology? Global warming is heating up the atmosphere and if we don't control the heat of our life, one day entire mankind will cool down into the water of the rising sea level.

How long is the way of this bottled economy?

18 May 2016


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