Rohevik forum will be held on 15th September 2016 in University of Life Sciences main building (Kreutzwaldi 1, Tartu).

Rohevik 2016: Zero-waste sharing society

Zero-waste sharing society?

This year Rohevik seeks inspiration on a zero-waste society and circular thinking. We shall look into the potential of building a thriving zero-waste society. Much of the Western world wastes energy, food and other resources. We often let useful things idle, we consume but do not fully utilize and struggle with degrading (ecosystem) services. The average EU citizen creates nearly half a tonne of waste annually, many even more. Annually, more than 2 billion tonnes of waste are dumped worldwide, and the consumer class is on the rise. Each year Europe currently loses around 600 million tonnes of materials contained in waste, which could potentially be recycled or re-used, with only 40% of European household waste being recycled. However, rising food demand, limited availability of arable land, energy poverty and increase of fresh water problems together with the impact of climate change constrain us to modify our linear economy. Europe’s economy needs to “close the loop”, an action which could bring a net savings of €600 billion - or 8% of annual turnover - for businesses in the EU and will boost job creation, with more than 170,000 direct jobs potentially being created in Europe by 2030. However, we could live in a society where resources are put into circular use with community sharing, recycling, up-cycling, re-using and value chain creation, with more meaningful social relations being created as well. Waste is only another term for ignorance.

Technology has freed us from direct dependence on the immediate surroundings and resources. We consume things which have their resource base on the other side of the globe, and we move if circumstances get inconvenient. This freedom is excellent, but it also disconnects us from the impacts of our actions. We no longer have to bear the consequences; our environmental footprints are hidden away in another city, another country or another continent. Institutional provisions and regulations take much of the responsibility from people while organizing our intertwined lives, and as a result people become more detached. Meaningful social relations increase attachment and inspire better resource management.

Europe´s recycling rate is 44%, which is very good but clearly shows much room for improvement towards circular thinking.

The forum is titled “A zero-waste sharing society” and takes place in Tartu on 15 September in the University of Life Sciences.

The idea is to pinpoint resilient ways of adapting and conducting our lifestyles in a way that has low impact but is high in personal and social benefits. With help from the speakers here and abroad, the overarching theme will be approached from three perspectives.

On behalf of the Rohevik team, Madis Tilga