Waste Governance – a mindset shift to achieving sustainability


We live in a time where human beings are better off than they have ever been, yet our natural systems are under stress and millions of people are suffering. Sufficient evidence and rationale support the imperative to alter our behaviour and embrace sustainable living practices. Yet, why do we hesitate to do so? And if we are indeed taking steps, are we progressing swiftly enough?

Achieving sustainability requires a fundamental mindset shift from governments, businesses and individuals alike. Given its intricate ties to sustainability, waste management assumes a pivotal role in fostering a more equitable and healthier environment. Consequently, addressing waste challenges becomes integral to crafting sustainable solutions.

To effect real change for the benefit of society, the environment and economies, significant shifts are required from the approach to both waste management and sustainability across all sectors of government, business and communities.

Economic models for sustainability

Two emergent economic trends spearheading the transition to a sustainable world are the circular economy and the donut economic models:

  • Circular economy model

The circular economy is a more widely known concept. It is an economic system and strategy to achieving sustainability.

It aims to change the way we produce, consume and dispose of goods and resources, in that its circular it seeks to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use for as long as possible, and regenerate natural systems. It is a model that incorporates resource efficiency, environmental impact, energy conservation, economic resilience, and cultural change.

  • Donut economic model

Donut economics is similar in that it advocates for economic systems that are regenerative and distributive by design. Developed by economist Kate Raworth it offers a new way of thinking about economics that aims to balance human needs with planetary boundaries, ensuring social justice and environmental sustainability.

Like the circular economy, it involves shifting from the linear “take-make-waste” model of traditional economics to one that promotes resource efficiency, recycling and the regeneration of natural capital. It also calls for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources to address social inequalities and ensures that everyone can thrive within planetary boundaries.

In theory, both models make sense. So why is it so hard to change and what do we need to do?

Prioritisation challenges

Unfortunately, waste is seldom prioritised as a focus area in public and private sector entities and even at an individual level unless mandated. In fact, how many of us take responsibility for the waste we create in our own homes? Yet, effective waste management is a significant contributor to protecting our planet now and for future generations.

Good waste governance

Kate Stubbs | Group Business Development and Marketing Director | Interwaste | mail me |

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