The Goal of Zero-Waste
Ethical and Economical Recycling Practices
First, let me say that Santee Cooper is an excellent corporate citizen environmentally, especially with its waste streams. There are a multitude of projects around the company to make good use of “leftovers.” We are a recycling leader that takes great care to get value from waste such as metals, paper products, other various used equipment, and beneficial use of coal combustion residuals (CCRs), to name a few. (You can read more in our Winter 2018 PowerSource story on page 12.) The utility has a strong tie to the health of our lake system, which produces electricity from the dams.
Sustainable Development Goals
As the population continues to grow, new ideas and technology will be needed to help the U.S. and world cope with all the by-products and waste-products of living today. Understanding this problem is as simple as looking at what you personally leave behind, and mentally multiplying that by a billion or two. Citizens of the U.S. are at the top for consumption of all things, and the rest of the world wants the life we have. The growing problem of what to do with our plastics and organic matter desperately needs solutions. When you trace the breakdown of polymers in the world, all paths lead to the ocean, and we are just beginning to see those effects.
How You Can Contribute to Zero-Waste
Becoming aware of your personal usage and resulting waste is a good start. Educate yourself on the options for using waste materials. Try not to use the excuse that you are just one person in a world of billions, especially since a U.S. resident generates more per capita than most other citizens of the world. This USA Today article calculated annual U.S. waste per capita as 25.9 metric tons, or over 57,000 pounds per person each year. The U.S. recycles a lot of this (34% per the USA Today article). Check out the World Bank data here. A shout out to the young people of today, who seem to pay much more attention to this issue than their elders.
The state of South Carolina makes a superb effort to attract businesses that use recycled content, so there is a market for these materials. You can read about South Carolina recycling at the S.C. Department of Commerce’s website, and how Chantel Fryer, Anna Delage and others strive for solutions constantly.
We need new suggestions and initiatives to reduce waste of all kinds. Observe, think and study about what needs to happen. If you aren’t able to think past your reach, then just reduce,
reuse and recycle to do your part and always keep your waste out of the water.