Waste prevention is deemed as the most effective way of waste management. After all, if there is no waste in the first place, there is no need to deal with it. So what have European countries done to nip it in the bud?
Non merci! — France reducing printed advertising materials
Advertising materials are often printed in bulk quantities. Their function is temporary and they are discarded soon afterwards. How can we reduce such waste?
The French environmental department has designed a “NO junk mail” sticker. Households are welcome to stick it on their mailbox so as to make their standpoint clear. The more popular the sticker, the more it could serve as a reminder to companies that handing out printed advertising materials for promotion is not as effective and well-received as before; they should find new means (e.g. Apps) that do not generate solid waste.
Suggested questions/ activities
- Do you think this kind of anti-junk mail campaign will work in Hong Kong? Why or why not?
- Which types of printed advertising materials do you normally receive the most?
- Design a “NO junk mail” sticker for Hong Kong.
Fewer phone chargers — The EU universal smartphone charger
Curiosity seems to be human nature. It is why so many people replace their smartphones once the contact ends. But what about phone chargers? Compared with phones, they seldom have new functions and their outlook is far from important. People dump them mostly because they are incompatible with their new smartphones of a different brand. So what could be done to reduce such waste?
The EU has proposed an universal, interchangeable phone charger to be introduced in Europe. So far 14 smartphone manufacturers have agreed to the proposal, which is also backed by the European Parliament by majority vote. Now it only awaits the consent of the Council of Ministers to become a law. It is expected that the interchangeable charger will be on the market by 2017.
Given that chargers are interchangeable and will be reused much more often, some phone manufacturers even consider changing the product packaging design so that consumers will have the option to buy phones alone without chargers. The anticipated results? Fewer new chargers and waste prevention in the end!