Zero Waste: Fictional or Achievable Goal?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 4:10:00 PM - Wednesday, January 18, 2017 5:30:00 PM
Rm. 108, Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, North Building
Environment Seminar

HIH C. CHAO, Honorary Professor, Tunghai University, former Vice President of Tunghai University, Taiwan

Joint seminar: Global Taiwan Lecture Series & Environment Seminar Series


ABSTRACT: All countries, large or small, rich or poor, suffer waste problems to various degrees. If not properly dealt with, waste issues could impose heavy environmental burdens which not only hinder economic growth but also lead to social discomfort. A sound strategic approach for effective waste management therefore is critical to finding an economically viable and environmentally sound solution. Recently, a zero-waste concept has emerged worldwide as a new initiative to curtail the worsening waste problem. Realization of such a concept, however, necessitates the prevention and/or making the best use of the waste via workable mechanisms. Plausible measures include: waste minimization, waste reduction, reuse, recycle and recovery, cleaner production, eco-industrial networking, sustainable consumption and production, etc. The application of these measures, on the other hand, is case and location specific, requiring a careful consideration of many inter-related technical, regulatory, economic and social factors. This presentation will review the background and challenges of the waste problem, ways and means of planning and implementing a zero-waste society, paradigm shift from waste to resource management, innovation and partnership, and key elements of success or failure with discussion on the exemplary case of Taiwan. Zero waste: is it a fictional or achievable goal? This is an open question that we must address, to help build a sound foundation for pursuance of sustainability. 

BRIEF BIO: Prof. Chih C. Chao is a former Vice President of Tunghai University, Taiwan. Trained as a chemical and environmental engineer, Dr. Chao has a grave concern over the social and environmental impacts that are caused by un-thoughtful economic activities. Recently, he has worked extensively with natural and social scientists to search for and implement feasible approaches that will lead to establishment of sustainable low-carbon circular economic systems. Dr. Chao has over 40 years’ experience in North America, EU and Asia, covering a wide spectrum of sustainability driven issues, such as: green technology development and application, integrated waste/resource management, value-added waste/resource recycling, cleaner production, eco-industrial network development and implementation, cross-disciplinary global research, etc. His most recent focal interest is in facilitating the development of value-added zero-waste systems, with a goal of maximizing material and energy use efficiency and minimizing the natural resource exploitation, towards a low-carbon society.