(The Gist of Science Reporter) Materials or energy, efficiency or sufficiency?   [APRIL-2018]


(The Gist of Science Reporter) Materials or energy, efficiency or sufficiency?

  [APRIL-2018]


Materials or energy, efficiency or sufficiency?

However, in the waste management hierarchy, combusting and recovering energy is good, but surely not the best option. It could well be a last resort. If resources are combusted and utilized for energy production, they end up eventually as irrecoverable heat and increase in entropy.

A short description of what is illustrated in Figure I will be apt here. While waste handling used to be an ‘end-of-pipe’, ‘after the event’ activity well into the 1990s, it now ends its rightful plate upstream of a product’s life-cycle. Redesigning products, dematerializing at the outset, trans-materializing whenever possible provides benefits to the raw material extraction stage of the life-cycle and perhaps also to the environmental footprint of the manufacturing unit. All burdens for ‘saving the world’ does not rest with the economy upstream. Consumers have a responsibility too- efficiency upstream has to be complemented by sufficiency downstream in the use phase. This is where ‘Reduce use’ figures right up in the hierarchy. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘There is sufficiency in this world for one’s need but not for one’s greed.’ Lastly, when all options seem difficult to adopt, one would ‘Relegate’ the wastes to landfills. (In countries like India, where land availability is not a concern, landfilling unfortunately cannot be easily discouraged.)

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